Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Inauguration Day

Obama’s Big Day turned DC into the biggest party town ever! I trudged out on the morning of Jan. 20, 2009 at 6 am and walked 2 hours to be near the Smithsonian under one of the many big TV screen spread out over the National Mall. I continued to stand in the freezing cold for the next 6 hours. My feet couldn't bear it much longer so in between I warmed up inside one of the museums, which was resembling more like Nizamuddin railway station with people sprawled out on the floor and resting their weary feet in all directions… but what a beautiful morning it was! People were in such high spirits that in spite of bad organization in certain places, everyone was remarkably tolerant and civil towards each other. The best part was talking to complete strangers from all over the world (a lot of French people for some reason) and joking about the weather and the politicians on the TV.
I don’t want to sound cheesy but one of the reasons I, like so many others, found a personal attachment to Obama’s message of Hope. It may seem vague and ambiguous but it’s a great thing to put your mind towards when everything is spiraling down.

End of Couch Surfing, As I Know It!

Well I planned to formally sublet my friend’s apt. but as I have learnt time and again – things NEVER happen according to plan. So stop making them and enjoy life now. I can’t begin to emphasize that over and over but it’s hard to heed your own advice sometimes. My friend broke up with his girlfriend and moved back to his place. Naturally, I wanted to give him his space back. I looked for other sublets but everything was booked for the Inauguration weekend and there was nothing available before Feb. 1 so technically, I needed a place to crash for 3 weeks – plus I was starting my new job at the end of the month. I managed to find shelter in two of my friends’ places – a couple who generously opened up their big home – and another friend in his small one-bedroom apt. There were all good friends of mine but for different reasons, I wondered if my stay would change the dynamics of our friendship. Needless to say, I think I had an impact on both the homes, and our friendships. And unless I am mistaken, it was a positive one.
In between, I went off to Ottawa for a few days to get my new visa and visited my Aunt and Uncle. It was freezing cold but I always love spending time with my extended family – besides the home cooked food, the warmth and sense of humor that comes with common history.
Now, I have finally moved into my own place in a group house with 3 other women. Again, having my own space with my own loo and closet is something I will always appreciate.

Joining the Workforce

One of the many, many things that have transpired since the elections has been the good news that I am now gainfully employed. After nearly a decade as a journalist, I went over to the Dark Side and have become a communications consultant… ironically, as part of a special project on the financial crises! The same thing that got me unemployed got me employed again. I was pretty much ready to pack my bags and move back to India when I got the offer a little before Christmas. What a way to end the year – an Annus Horribilis, indeed.
As I go back to the routine of waking up, getting dressed, taking the bus/train/cab to work, and interacting with others in another environment, I appreciate it far more than I could imagine. Talk of stimulus packages and rising unemployment and yesterday I found myself the task of counseling a friend who was laid off. I gave her all the sage advice I accumulated during my journey – but everyone has their own story to tell.
Is fortune smiling on me finally? I don’t know. When people say I have handled myself really well, I can say perhaps I just didn’t have public breakdowns. Or perhaps I had a wonderful support structure. Or perhaps, like any situation I had never been exposed to before, I just didn’t know any better but to live and try.