The final sprint 

Between three countries, airport disasters, sad goodbyes, beautiful visits, frantic packing, lovely gifts, math midterm exams and a mile long to-do list, it really was a marathon done at sprint speed. 

Mihir arrived and we went straight to the Chambon’s – the wonderful family I’d met when I’d first got here. We had a lovely dinner there, I’m glad I got to see them again. 

Next morning it was a trip to Rome. Hail airport mess number 1. We’d checked in with an hour to spare and all was good, but then the security line was crazy and it took 50 minutes to get through and they didn’t let us board our flight. So we watched our flight take off. Lots of running around between Alitalia and Air France and the confusing systems finally got us two seats on the afternooon flight. So door to door we took 14 hours to reach our hostel in Rome. 

Never mind though. Here’s some photos, not going to go into all the details of everything because that’s worth a post itself! 

I did some amount of the time out myself which was fun. Mihir and I did some things togethe.  Obviously we drank lots of wine and ate many pizzas. Frank from work lived in Rome a few years, so he’s given me a pretty good list of places to visit. Made for a good culinary experience! 

My favourite area was probably the squares in trastevere – young, lively, arty ans bustling with festive energy. Of all the monuments, it was the baths of Caracalla which I was most enamoured by. It’s just astounding, the scale at which the romans built everything – it’s all spaces for giants! 

Of course one airport mess wasn’t enough. We were supposed to return Tuesday evening and I’d go to work Wednesday. But lo and behold Tuesday morning reveals that are tickets are for WEDNESDAY EVENING. And being all saints day, the end of a long European weekend, not one airline had a spot available. Had to call in work and tell them I’d be missing Wednesday. 

Got an extra day in Rome though! No complaints there. 

Thursday started great – I reached my desk to find this: 

A little plant from Delphine as a gift! 

Over Thursday and Friday at work I had to squeeze in Sanex, Palmolive, cottage and some noreva. Not bad for a finish. 
We all went out for lunch together from work on Thursday. They treated me! I didn’t expect that but was so nice 🙂 big group Italian meal. In the evening was my ‘pot de depart’. I’d brought bhel and kaju katli and prosecco from Rome. Everybody to my surprise LOVED bhel (frank had asked for it, but otherwise it’s not usually a taste-for-Europe). 

Was awesome because Corrine was there! (She was meant to not be there since she was going to be freelancing elsewhere). And Muriel came even though she IS freelancing elsewhere. She brought me an awesome gift box of oils and teas and extracts since she observed that I like cooking. Raison pure also had a gift for me – a very pretty cream and brown sling purse. This apparently was the ‘official agency gift’ but there was other gifts that everyone had pooled together to buy. 

And indeed – Friday afternoon after a second round of wine at lunchtime, I got a big collection of little gifts. 

An awesome book that’s a discussion between a mathematician and a musicien on ‘creation’ – they know me well! 

A little French broach like the kind Corrine is always wearing. 

A snow globe and a keychain Eiffel Tower. And cat magnets 😀

A box set of book-chocolates. They really know me! 

Corrine painted me a bag! 

But all the laughs and hugs and gifts and goodbyes and so-touching speeches…lots of smiles but it was also so sad. I might come back, but it’ll never quite be the same. It’s only Sunday and I already miss it. 

I packed up my apartment Friday evening. And somewhere around 3 am I was sitting on the floor with suitcases around me and almost bare walls and not a soul awake as I did what frank told me he was sure I wouldn’t do cause I’m too corporate – I cried. Probably also the lack of sleep but it’s also the first time in my life I moved out from somewhere. Ever. And I’m not happy to say goodbye to my little studio with the skylight and window seat and walls of memories. I wish I could keep it forever. And my landlord told me he might demolish it to reincorporate it into his house :(. 

Saturday pretty much all I did was sit at the window and study math. Was my second midterm for the course (thank you Harvard, FABULOUS TIMING, two times now). Mihir and I did go to a really good crêperie for lunch, but that’s the only ‘getting out’ I did. 

Study pack study pack. I gave my exam between 1.30 and 4 am. Short nap. And then it was all FITTHISTOWELINTHEBAGTOO and then bags tumbling down stairs and in the elevator and bumping across the compound to the uber van that was late. I packed my whole life into 4.0 bags. And now they’re under me on this 292 tonne mass thats levitating in the air. 

Oh about that. Of course I couldn’t have a normal airport experience. That would be blasphemy. We walked in through the door at check in desk 12 and needed to walk to check in desk 15. But they didn’t let us since there was some unattended bag they found. So exited airport, walked outside, and got back in from a door near fifteen. Checked in our bags with a mild glitch and I was thinking ‘there. Finally. All the madness. But it’s done. We made it. All systems go. Now just wait and board’. But of course not. Why would life be that easy. 

We start walking to security. And they’ve closed everything past check in desk 14 (aka desks 13-1, security, immigration etc) and evacuated thanks to that stupid unattended bag. So all of Paris flying out of Charles the gaulles 2C for this morning stood at the army baraccades around checkin 14-16 for one hour while we waited for police and bomb squads and god knows who else. All airport entrances were sealed and I was thinking ‘really? Really? Am I NOT desservent of five minutes of peace at a lounge or cafe before I go?’ And of course by the time they began to let people through, our flight was already underway boarding. 

So we ran through immigration and security. Me with two bags two pillows and a coat in hand (ran out of suitcase space). Ran all the way to the gate. Down the stairs to the bus up the stairs and finally, finally, in our seats. 

So here I am, glass of wine adding to my droopy eyes, 35000 feet in the air, headed back to Bombay. 

This might sound completely crazy, actually not might – it does – but I’m scared I have no idea who I am anymore in Bombay. I’m not a whole new person or anything that drastic, but something changed in the whole working-living in Europe-living alone-travelling solo-supporting myself on my own income (except rent)-making decisions independent of older people’s decisions-washing your own bathroom and scheduling laundry runs-being in a whole new world-talking French for four months straight so that I forgot how to say ‘au revoir’ in Gujarati (my mother tongue) that makes me feel like I won’t…fit in …in my life at ‘home’. It feels like a distant hotel or memory that I’m returning to. 

But who knows. Many adventures to come! Here’s hoping my final airport stop passes without hitch. 

For the last time (I think) on this blog. 



PS – that’s the consumed alcohol collection. Also had a pretty impressive consumed paper stack for four months