Almost three weeks have gone by in Grenoble and I am beginning to feel settled and quite at home. For the first two weeks, it was rainy and overcast all the time and I was beginning to associate this place with rain. The weather is getting better by the day and I hope it will stay sunny. Last evening, I caught a glimpse of my favorite mountain range here, the Belledonnes, and the light from the setting sun made the snow and clouds look like light pink cotton candy. I have heard from a friend, that it looks even better in winter when the mountains are blanketed in snow.
Speaking about friends, I am beginning to form friendships here and also made acquaintances with some very interesting folks whom I met by chance. Among these are the guy who runs one of the tabacs stores (tobacco/newspaper etc.) with his brother, in the city. I had stopped by to pick up a calling card and troubled him a lot with all my questions, since he was the first person I met in the city who spoke English! He gave me directions on so many topics and was kidding that I was officially at the tourist office. Now, whenever I need a card I stop by the store - he remembers me and I flaunt some of my French, which is still really very little :P
Then there was this teacher I met at the burger place who just happened to share the table with me since all the others were taken and we had a very interesting discussion about languages and France. She told me that she never stops at the fast food joint but that she was very happy she did cause she got to meet me :D That reminds me- I should contact her and see if she wants to meet up sometime.
During the first few days here, I would visit the grocery store very often, I have been quite fascinated with the food (now, you can imagine me returning home very fat). I got to know this security guard at the store who is very funny. I was passing by when he was spraying himself with perfume outside a store (they have a perfume stand outside the store and anyone can go try some). He asked me to try it and I did. Then I had one of my first multilingual conversations here. He was talking in French and of course, I spoke in English, and somehow we managed to understand each other. He is from Algeria and from what I understood he really likes the color of my skin (now maybe I interpreted that incorrectly :P). So, whenever I visit the store just before it is closing I meet him and we exchange some funny conversation. BTW, the name of the store is Geants- its Giants, so I feel quite at home..lol
Then, the taxi driver who drove me from Geneva airport, happens to be a electrical engineer working on embedded systems and was working as a driver to save up for a bike. He was very nice to talk to during the drive to Grenoble and we also ended up meeting in the city once. Well, I guess I can say that its a small town.
At the apartment complex, I don't know many people yet. There is an Indian couple and they have a baby, but I can't speak much with the wife since they are from the south and she does not speak English or Hindi. They know a Bengali couple that come to visit them and so I run into them quite often. These are the only Indian contacts I have here. I will not make any comments on the number of Indians...cause I remember only too clearly what happened last time I did so at UMBC and I don't want any of you spinning this to your liking. Its funny but at xrce, currently there is no other Indian. I have meet French (obviously), Greek, Hungarian, Brazilian, Israeli, Spanish, and so many other nationalities at xrce but I am the lone Indian :)
Yeah and while we are at it -some ambassador I am for my country..I mean I have people thoroughly confused about my nationality-think abt it- they know I visiting from America and have a French first name and Portuguese last name and Indian face! Well I don't go into details about my middle name :P Anyway, I have to tell people- yes infact it is my real name! And they are very curious to know about India and many have visited India too. Sometimes, I meet people who love Indian classical music and dance and you can only imagine my plight and there confusion about my knowlegde about the Ustads. Anyway, I have had very interesting chats with people- one who has trekked in Ladakh and some who have eaten spicy food when they interned at MS (they love tandoori and palak paneer ofcourse) and one guy actually visited Lonavala to learn yoga and will be going back to Leh this summer. All have fond memories of India and some not so fond ones too...what with all the spicy food and stories of being cheated by taxiwallas :P Oh one guy, he loves Maggi noodles and said he tried looking for it everywhere but never found it. Can you imagine that, our love for Maggi is shared globally?? :D
I am having a good time at work, lots of new things to learn and so little time. The work environment is very nice and people really know how to enjoy life here. Sometimes there are going away get-togethers and they server wine, beer, cider etc. I can't imagine this at work anywhere else I have been. There is cafeteria where you can often find people in groups chatting away over tea and some people cook their lunch in there. There are pots and pans and the basic condiments for all to use. I love the idea! I have not tried cooking in there cause I have a different routing altogether. The girl who I share my office with introduced me to a bakery about 15 mins away from work and often we go together. We get something to eat and then take a walk around the lake there while we jabber about so many things. She is from Hungary and from our discussions, it seems like it is not very different from India. I really enjoy our talks and its somewhat uncanny how we share so many common experiences and thoughts. I got inspired to blog after seeing her blog.
There is so much more to tell you guys but its getting late and I'll post again soon!
Leave me comments so I'll know you are reading...au revoir!