My private performer

He sat in a small alcove at Torre Norde of the Placa Espanya. With his geared cycle behind him, a small mic and amplifier fitted into his soundhole and his guitar cover lying open in front of him, all he did was sit on his tiny stool and play.

He didnt get much of a notice, except people passing by would always slow down to listen to a snatch of what he was playing or to empty their change/coin purse of 5 and 10 euro cents.

Funny though, he really didnt look like he needed the money. He had a long aquiline face, with an appropriately placed french beard, clean cut looks, black sweater with a warm black scarf around his neck, a great pair of glasses and shoes. No, he really didnt look like he needed the money.

I sat on the steps in front of him, tired of carrying around the tiny bit of groceries I bought in a hurry. Walking all the way around town with them in your backpack, has got to be the most surefire way of getting a killing neck/nape/back ache. I was more than happy to set them down and sit for a moment’s rest.

I wasnt expecting an outstanding performance, but I got one. One song, and then another – each one bested the one before. He noticed me, I clapped after each – grinning madly from ear to ear. I tried to take a video – covertly – without thrusting a lens into his face. I sort of  succeeded, capturing the legs of all the other tourists walking by, in the process.

I stopped the recording after a bit of one song, to stop worrying about whether my memory card was filling up, and then, he began.

The one song, I probably was waiting for since I got to spain. It filled the small cupola and alcove with notes that were oh-so-strong and yet had a sense of gentle longing about them. The sounds bounced back and forth between the red brick walls and the curves of the columns  – just like they bounced inside my inner ear and my cranium. I dont know what they hit on their way, but they were resplendent. I kept trying to correlate his fingers on the fretboard with what I was hearing. I gave up after exactly 30 seconds of doing this. I was not there to study and understand, heck, I do that all the time! I closed my eyes, held my bag closer to me and just listened. The closest approximation of what it sounded like is the song on this page called ‘Dont you care’ by Los del Norte. A deeper, stronger, more sad version of this.

I left a small note in english (sadly) and 5 euros in his cover. I knew he didnt need the money at all, but I felt his performance earned it.

Walking back from my flamenco evening, with colours and the staccato of heels on wooden floors in my head, I bumped into the very same guitarist with his set of rambunctious and extremely genial friends. We unsuccessfully tried to talk in broken english and fast spanish. It only ended up in perplexed looks, wide grins, lots of hand movements. Alise from Panama, stepped in after a particularly long spanish sentence and translated the whole thing in perfect english! I was most pleased and relieved. I was a local celebrity among his friends – the girl who stayed to listen to him play and left a note! He was most pleased and invitations to join for a drink came from all directions! There was no way of saying no and heck, I had nothing better to do anyway!

“La Carboneria located in the twisty alleyways in front of the Cathedral offers free Flamenco shows nightly at 11PM” is all what wikitravel has to say about the place we went to; which is quite a pity. It is one of the most quaint, interesting, awesome places to hang around in Sevilla. Carboneria, used to be the place where coal was hoarded and sold. The signs remain, small sooty corners in walls, covered up with plaster, paintings and posters. Beneath a small chimney sat a small piano where a small, non-descript man was clearly enjoying himself. Further inside was a small picnic area, filled with benches and people with tinto de verano, sangria or their poison of choice. A small elevated table stood towards the centre of the room with 3 chairs, which hosted a small, intimate but forceful flamenco performance.

The evening passed discussing poetry, philosophy, neurons, music, rhythms and in the same vein –  tissue slicing, microtomes, paraffin embedding, brain slices, staining and Ramon Y Cajal. My kind of crowd, totally.

I walked back to my hostel a happier, slightly giddy, grinning backpacker.

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Melt

I was here today morning. I had to take a friend with her mother along. I didnt want to go in, I hesistated, dilly-dallied, waited.. maybe it wont be as good, I thought. Maybe all I’ll get there are the bitter 90% ones that I can eat once – but have to have a dialogue in my head about how good it is for my health to actually keep eating it.

She opened the door. An old wooden frame with clean glass pane. From within came a warm, tempting zephyr of simmering coacoa. My frontal cortex shut itself down and in I went.

A tiny corridor, with chocolates on display, where ever I turned. Slabs, crumbles, tiny bricks, smooth balls, dusted with coacoa powder, glazed with sticky caramel; all in – nougat, amandes, caramel croquant, noir, vanille, blanc avec le fruits rouge and the eternal classic – lait.

No, I told myself. Ive spent a lot today. Maybe next time, maybe next weekend. I should deserve such things.

I was offered help – did I want to buy something? I mumbled an excuse, said I was waiting for my friend to finish.

The more I stood in that corner, the more overpowering the scent became. My head felt like a warzone. I had too many loud voices in my head, each vying for attention.

Thats it!

Excusez-moi? Si vous êtes libre, je aimerais bien prendre quelques petite morceaux…
  • White with red fruits
  • Classic milk
  • Crunchy caramel
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Fleurs de Sel (Flowers of salt)

I grudgingly shared the white with the friends, consoling myself that white chocolate isnt chocolate at all. Folded everything else and stuffed the packet deep into my bag.

I ran back home, carefully opened the waxed paper packet, peeled the ‘Blondel’ sticker, stuck my nose in it and took a deep life-giving breath.

Gingerly I opened the individually packed tiny thin slabs and took a tiny bite and let it sit on my tongue…

Test number 1.

Normal chocolate -> melting -> liquefying ->… mmmm…. -> !! what the!! ->… chilli!!! .-> cayenne pepper… -> *loud moan* -> flopped back on my futon with my eyes closed….. -> let the rest make its way down my throat along with copious amounts of wetness..

Test number 2.

Normal chocolate.. -> slightly darker that I like it -> inching its way to the sides of my tongue -> *HOLY CRAP!* moment -> tiny granules of salt sitting on my tastebuds -> melting like firefly flickers only to meld with the normal dark chocolate -> Oh…. my….*breath escalating* -> Silently having an epicurian orgasm…

Amen.

Un anno

img_08582

Its been a year already!

*shuffles to find my old sheaffers black ink pen*

Things learnt in the year 2008 –

1. There is such a thing as too much alcohol. Hangover is a very real consequence of a night-full of fun.

2. Pilates is a surprisingly good workout, sans the usual huffing-puffing and perspiration

3. Being hestitant gets you nowhere. It can also be misinterpreted as indecision, which is pretty immature. (so is hesitation.. to begin with…)

4. A mug of steaming soup and slices of rustic bread make for a great dinner. (Never knew my tummy could fill up so fast with so little)

5. One needs to keep their eyes open to notice everyday phenomena. Its usually where the elusive bird of singular discoveries lurks.

6. A new language can only be learnt when it is spoken as much and as frequently as possible, with as many random strangers are possible! (Speaking bad ungrammatical french, or rather trying to speak french than english, has opened more doors for me than a sweet smile!)

7. It takes a split second to judge someone – so do some nifty boot-exchanging and walk in your new heels before you are swift to bring down the gavel.

8. It also takes just a split second (or even just an unconscious action or lack of it) for a bond to break. No matter how long it took and how beautifully it flowered, it is never too difficult to snap the bare threads on an already strained camaraderie.

9. It isnt a crime to preen! To look presentable and proper, is the most basic of  social skills. A wardrobe overall is exactly what was needed – and what I got myself.

10. Home isnt a set of people – it isnt even a place. Its a set of circumstances that happened at a certain place and time. All we do, is try to go back to that point in space and time, when things were perfect for us; when we felt our best, when everything was alright with the world – when we were “at home”.

The end of summer is depressing.

The days get shorter, leaves get less green, water gets colder….

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Sometimes, it just feels like someone is pulling the rug from underneath your feet..

Not with a fast whip, but so imperceptibly slowly, that you dont feel it at all.

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I cant seem to stand fools gladly these days. Ofcourse, “fools”, judged to be so by my own standards and “stand” = can’t wait to run out on them.

Is this what is called being snooty? high-handed? maybe difficult?

Or solitary, a loner, a recluse.. a misanthrope…

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My earworm – the haunting ‘Inertia Creeps’ by Massive Attack.

Should I be worried?

Pictures with/of/for People

If one would look at all the pictures I took during my trip to Perigord, Les Ezyies and such, a stark lack of human forms would be apparent.

I consciously avoid people pictures. Mostly because I hate being in front of the lens, and thus, wouldnt want to subject anyone else to that caliber of torture.

Inanimate objects are a safer alternative, for an abysmally amateur “picture-taking-person” like me.

But occasionally, in times of weakness … it feels like Im waiting forever, for someone to come and take a picture of me. My soul and form laid bare for everyone to see and having no regrets, of how it turned out.

Recent studies in rodents have suggested that….

“These studies have relied heavily on….

“Neurodevelopmental disorders typically have complex phenotypes…

“Evidence from several brain regions suggest…

“The purpose of the this study is…

“Using electrophysiological techniques in embryonic and early postnatal cortex…

*Does an Eureka-moment-dance, hoping for a shower… nay, even a drop will do*

The Perfect Patch

Someone.. Anyone.. please tell me one way to keep my cool, everytime my patch clamping setup fails to deliver – not because of my own incompetence.. but because of some other dirty pig of a human’s incompetence.

P.S: On the same vein – I never knew keeping one’s “cool” could be so difficult when it is 3 degrees outside.

P.P.S: Ive got to stop living weekend to weekend. Its screwing my already non-existent sleep cycles.

P.P.P.S: I wish I could have written a nice, happy post about how beautiful lausanne is (which it, undoubtedly is) and how nice and friendly and helpful the people are (which they, ofcourse are); how amazing and uber-cool the work in my lab is (its the stuff of dreams, I say!) and how living alone is the best thing that could have happened to me (which, as a matter of fact, it is)… But I didnt, and such is life.

P.P.P.P.S: Excuse me, while I go and worry more about how I will carry my new microwave up the hill to my studio apartment and when to buy the next stash of groceries.