Friday, October 29, 2010

Where is it???

As is not uncommon when moving and then unpacking, stuff gets lost. And after unpacking all my things and looking everywhere I just cannot find my cell phone charger. You could not imagine loosing your charger? Me either, until it happens.

In Brazil we can easily explain such happenings: it's all because of Saci-pererê. This little fellow from Brazilian folklore is responsible for all the little mischief that happens in our lives. Too much salt came out of the salter? Saci did it. Something you were sure was in one place reappears somewhere else? Definitely the work of Saci. And especially if things go missing, Saci loves to hide things.
Saci is a very politically incorrect character. A young one-legged black man that is always smoking a pipe and loves to play pranks on people. Depending on where in Brazil you come from he can be nicer or spookier, but overall not a bad guy at heart. There are even groups that advocate that he actually exists! If you want to learn more about the legend wikipedia can help, click here).

Well, the only thing Saci did not count on is that I'm not much of a phone person (mostly email and skype fulfills my needs) and therefore the lost charger was not a big deal for 2 weeks. I figured I would find it as some point! But he really did a good job hiding it! Now that A. is coming over for the weekend and we need to coordinate meeting each other around midnight it would definitely help to have a phone... Maybe it is time to give in and buy a replacement...

Thursday, October 28, 2010


After living off a suitcase for a while it definitely feels nice to have clothes in the wardrobe! I was counting the time I have not had a permanent place to live and the result surprised me: 7 months! Or, more specifically, ever since I left Raleigh to spend some months in Rio. You could argue that I did have a place in Rio, but knowing that it was only for a few months did not make it feel much like home.

Now, let me explain the constraints of our move. First, we did not want to take furniture and other bigger stuff with us mostly because it was not good furniture, costs of moving are high, and we had no idea of what our respective living arrangements would be like in Europe. So that left us with the option of sending boxes by mail (at about US$200 per big box) or fitting it into the suitcases we were allowed to carry. By luck 2 friends going to London offered to take 2 suitcases with our stuff and I had a friend there that was very nice to accept to keep them indefinitely. I ended up shipping 3 boxes to the university in Norway and the rest was carried on our backs.

The luggage allowance on the plane depends on the type of ticket bought. For me it was 64kgs from the US to Brazil, and 20kg from Brazil-India-Oslo. For A. it was 20kgs USA-Brazil-India-Paris. (The lower allowance reflects the extra cheap tickets we got.) This means that I took an extra suitcase that I stored at my mom's place in Brazil. And from Rio on we were left with 40kgs in total! Not much... So all the saris from the wedding in India are still at my MIL, together with salwar kameez, sandals, and some crafts.

So what did I unpack?
- 3 boxes I sent by mail to Norway. They stayed in my office from March until this week, when a PhD student offered to help me move them to my apartment in Oslo. Mostly clothes and shoes that made no sense to carry around the world.
- 2 suitcases from London: I flew there one weekend, slept at my friend's and then lugged them by train (no luggage restrictions) to Paris, where A. met me at the train station and we hauled them to his apartment. This haul was huge, including a staircase up the hill where the university is, each with a 50lbs (~25kg) suitcase in tow. They contained most of our winter clothes, as well as some house decoration stuff (A. was less than happy to see what he had broken his back for were some "trinkets").
- 1 suitcase I brought from Brazil-India: mostly Summer clothes that are definitely too thin for the current Norwegian weather...

Ah, it was a lot of work... And it feels great to have it be over!!!
And maybe I've learned not to skimp on moving costs...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Travel for work

As a PhD student I (almost) always took some extra days after conferences to explore interesting surroundings. And as I had a trip planned to Indonesia for some meetings I was hoping to do just that. Well, welcome to professional life!

First, I don't really have accumulated vacations yet and therefore it is hard to justify the extra days on the basis of work to do (trying to explain that I needed to work from Bali for a few days didn't work...). Then, the few extra hours of free time I had were indiscriminately filled with more meetings!! And this included even the weekend!

So, yes, I went to Indonesia but no, I did not see much around me besides the hotels I stayed at, the research center where most meetings were held and the cottage where the weekend meeting took place. Well, the cottage had a great view and we even got to go hiking one day!

The view and Mt Salak as the background.

But I think I've learned some positives as well. First, since I was there for meetings with "locals" I guess I also got to try some things that tourists don't really experience. Like local food, lot's of local fruit, some local nightlife and local people too! Again, food! All those coffee breaks and lunches definitely introduced me to a variety of Indonesian delicacies and boy are they good!

So not too bad, just left me with the definite intention of going back and experiencing more of a very interesting country!


Time flies!!
And now I live in Oslo. I moved here after coming back from Indonesia last week and really like it so far. I am living in an apartment with 3 Norwegians (which will hopefully expedite my learning of the language). Oslo is not that big (600 thousand) and quite spread out for European standards. It is also quite old, which makes it very interesting. I live between the Vigeland park and the royal palace, which is a very nice area (as you can see from the neighborhood pic below).

It takes me 10 minutes to walk to the train station and from there it takes 30 min to get to Ås (where work is) and then 5 min biking from the station. Not bad. And the views of the Oslo Fjord still amaze me, especially now when I see the sun rising over the mountains from the train every morning.

It is was all so sweet and simple... Well, it isn't. The apartment I am living in now is not the one I should've moved into. That apartment is currently under renovations, and, as most renovations, it is way past delivery date. So when I was supposed to move in and the new apartment wasn't ready my new roommates offered me to move into their old apartment for the time being. The new and the current place are only about 7 blocks apart, so the neighborhood won't change. But just the thought of repacking everything that I finally unpacked after 7 months is quite tiring... Let's see how it goes!