Wednesday, May 28, 2014
I have really nice colleagues, both in the Vienna office and in my immediate team, which is distributed over several countries (that do not, however, include Austria). One of my Bulgarian colleagues crocheted this cute little bunny for me and gave it to me yesterday. So kind of her! We had once talked about DIYing and she had told me that crocheting little animals was a hobby of hers. Mind you, I always spoil my colleagues abroad with Austrian sweets, wine and other goodies, but I really appreciate this handmade gift more than any shop-bought one. Now I want to name my little friend here and thought to appeal to your creativity as well. I was thinking of a Bulgarian (or at least Slavic) name, but couldn't think of any that fits my new friend. Any ideas?
Sunday, May 25, 2014
I've been on the market for a nice and functional backpack for quite some time. Ideally, I would have liked a leather one that doubles as a handbag as well and had my eyes peeled for such a speciment for quite some time, but the perfect one never materialised. Yesterday, I spotted something quite different and yet so right: a "Hawaian"-patterned Herschel supply backbag with laptop pocket. I liked!
Thursday, May 22, 2014
It is days like this when I fall in love with my hometown all over again. Vienna in summer = fantastic. Due to the fact that we don't have a canteen, my colleagues and I always go out for lunch and try to find a sunny spot to soak up some vitamin D. Basking in the sunshine, we always agree that it "feels as if we were on holiday". Today we had lunch on Judenplatz, where several restaurants are located and I bullied M.C. into taking a picture of me in my new dress and statement necklace:
A (male) colleague remarked this morning if I didn't have to work any more what with all the "diamonds" around my neck. Well, getting there. Slowly. I love this comfortable dress with pockets even if it looks a bit unflattering at the top in the picture below. If you are into cotton dresses and don't want to spend a fortune, head to COS while they still have it in stock. As the Gazelle (whom I miss sorely as my lunchbreak partner in crime, by the way) used to say: navy suits everyone:
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
The Power of Words or Offline>Online
I know that I have gradually reduced the number of "philosophical" and personal posts here over the years. There are many reasons for that: partly for lack of time (it is sometimes quicker to just post a picture of a nice sight or recent haul), partly as things once said and carved into the online slate stick around pretty much forever (and believe me, I have written some things here that I wish I hadn't) and ultimately because I know most of my readers in person and it would be a bit awkward to "overshare" at times.
Be that as it may, here goes. I have recently thought a lot about the power of the written word and the chain reactions they sometimess trigger, in particular when exchanged online and worst of all written on a flimsy touchpad that generates brevity and typos alike. We tend to take written things as gospel, be it harsh and mostly unfair criticism (hello, anonymous haters leaving acerbic remarks in YouTube videos or blogposts that you would never dare say to the recipient's face), be it pseudo-scientific, ill-researched articles, or adjectives that make a person seem way more attractive physcially or psychologically than they actually are (yep, online dating profiles and yep, first hand knowledge here). On the rare occasions that I take out my beloved fountain pen to write a birthday card or letter, I enjoy the sensual act of writing on paper and having to pay more attention to what I am writing as I don't have a backspace key to delete a word.
Like digital photography, where everybody gets trigger happy (and I am guilty as charged of this crime as the frequency of my Instagram posts more than proves), digital everything lends itself to verbal diarrhea without due reflection with some people just waiting to pounce on others' remarks to tear them apart. A hastily added smiley face doesn't always mitigate the damage either. There's truth in the saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all" since bitching can be so...entertaining and liberating at times. Now that our phones have become as smart, if not smarter than our computers, it's easy to forget that you can still use them to make a call and get your message across less ambiguously than if you had packaged it into an e-mail, IM or text.
What somebody intends tongue-in-cheek or as lighthearted banter might make somebody else very upset and stare at the apparently "poisonous" sentence for hours. The "sender" might long have forgotten dropping their little bombshell, while the recipient is still trying to make sense of the mess and reassemble the little pieces.
This is not to say that no kind words can be exchanged online. Far from it. I was upset after receiving a little virtual bombshell and therefore really grateful for M.C.'s and Amica's kind words of courage. The power of words goes both ways.
Monday, May 19, 2014
A Girly Weekend in Munich
This past weekend I visited a lovely friend & colleague in Munich. If the pseudonym "l'Italiana" weren't already taken on this blog, it would also perfectly apply to her since she was born to Italian parents in Munich. I got to know her better while she spent 3 months on rotation in Vienna, same as I spent a quarter in Sydney back in 2011. As we got along so well and I showed her some of my favourite spots in Vienna, we decided I would spend a weekend in Munich soon. Well, the soon didn't really happen due to both of our (well, mostly mine) travelling, but I finally made it. Since her flat is on the small side and doesn't have a spare bedroom, I stayed in a hotel nearby. If you are planning to visit Munich and don't insist on staying in the very city center, I can wholeheartedly recommend Bold Hotel in the "Giesing" district. It's a mere 6 subway stops away from the central railway station where I arrived, inexpensive for a city of this calibre and location like this, and really nicely furnished:
I didn't take many pictures at all for several reasons. First of all, I had been there twice before already and taken photos of the usual suspects and second, the weather (on Saturday at least) was not that great. If you follow me on Instagram (@wastingmytalent or are stalking the widget in the sidebar here, you'll have seen more photos from my hotel and a collage of the great homemade Italian Sunday lunch I ate). Here's a placeholder photo of nice native flowers from Viktualienmarkt:
Needless to say some shopping occurred and while I resisted the urge to pick up a nice Kate Spade bag that was well below my pain threshold too, I fell in love with this Max & Co. statement necklace and the colour of this linen top from Massimo Dutti:
Our girly programme also included a "parallel pedicure", i.e. we had appointments at the same time. As the ladies were rather quick and brutal we joked that they would be a better fit for an SM studio. Well, we survived.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
I was in Budapest from Monday to Wednesday this week and just as my train had crossed the HU border, the display of my mobile phone said "No SIM. Emergency Calls Only" so for the whole 2.5 days I only had internet or call (via Skype, outbound) connection when in WiFi. I had to repeatedly remind people (I was there with my team and we were coordinating evening activities, etc.) that I suspected my SIM was dead and needed to wait until I was back in Austria and could have it replaced, but some still asked me several times why I wasn't picking up my phone. It seems that in this day and age not being online/available 24/7 is such an alien concept that people don't "get" it. I'm not lying...I also found it a bit weird to be so "cut off", most of all, when everybody else was playing with their phones and I couldn't participate in the rudeness.
We also passed an old-school phone booth and one of my (much younger) colleagues pointed it out and said "Wow, they still have one of these!" while I didn't find it so weird at all and remembered the times when I used to walk to the phone-booth in my parents' neighbourhood to call my ex-boyfriend abroad with either a little tower of coins or a call-card in order to avoid my parents complaining about the costs or me talking forever even if it wasn't charged to their phone-bill. Going to certain pains in order to hear your loved one's voice, such as having to walk to the nearest pay-phone or having to wait until the arranged time when he or she is available makes a conversation so much more valuable than just being able to talk or text any time.
Nevertheless, my first errand after getting off the train was to go to the shop to have my SIM card replaced. Order restored.
Monday, May 12, 2014
With this exhibit from the Singapore Art Museum, I think it's time to change topic and move to other subjects from my next pos onwards. I am off to Budapest later today (by train, of course as it's just "around the corner" from Vienna) and then to Munich on Friday, also by train. I really enjoyed my unexpected stationary week in Vienna last week. I was supposed to go to Sofia, but the event got postponed and so I had time to rekindle social contacts. Sometimes I get a sneaking suspicion that my friends have given up on me "because I have given up trying to remember where you are next week". I admit that I have been a virtual rather than in-the-flesh friend lately, but I daresay the impact was felt strongest by myself.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
I always like to take pictures of interesting signs, be it because the typography calls out to me or because the actual words are funny. Far East Asia is usually a treasure trove for the latter category. Signs I saw in Singapore were all in idiomatic English, but some were quite cute and original, such as this one for a coffee shop:
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Durian and Fish Spa: YOLO!
On our first full day in Singapore, we explored Chinatown and its 'hood and when I spotted a place advertising ice-cream with green tea and red beans, I decided it was the perfect refreshment. The Australian was easily convinced and so we sat down for our little treat. The chatty (and somewhat bored, we were the only patrons) Philippino waiter asked if we had ever tried durian. I hadn't and so I accepted a free tasting of the durian ice-cream set. The Australian was cautious as she already knew she was not a fan, but I tucked in. Below you see the innocent-looking offering. The darker blob is durian flesh, the lighter ginger-infused ice-shavings. What can I say? It definitely doesn't taste of fruit at all, but of a rich, fatty aged Camembert or some such pungent cheese with an aftertaste of...baby puke? Not that I have ever had the privilege to sample some.
I had the taste in my mouth for the rest of the day, too. Bleurgh. There definitely is a reason why it is forbidden to carry one of these beasts on public transport. Below left you see the unpeeled fruit:
Now that we had ticked off the durian-tasting, what was left was the fish spa, something the Australian had on her must-do list and I was curious to experience as well. Basically, you dip your feet into a fish tank with doctor fish who like to nibble on your dead skin. It's nowhere near as effective as a proper pedicure as they seemed to focus on my ankles more than the soles of my feet, but I liked the ticklish sensation and feeling of mild electrocution. The fishies looked happy as well:
It was definitely the nicer of the two "challenges" and didn't leave a disgusting aftertaste!
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Singapore by Night
Friday, May 02, 2014
I mentioned in my Singapore haul that I bought another (baby blue) linen blouse from Uniqlo. This makes it the 8th (eighth!) Uniqlo linen blouse in my wardrobe. Yep. In the above picture you see them all lined up, minus a pattered LE one (from a Uniqlo x Cabbages & Roses collab) and navy one from my recent trip to Paris that were in the laundry basket.
As you will probably have concluded from the above evidence I am quite partial to them. IMHO they are by far THE best summer garment ever. Formal enough to be business appropriate and casual enough to wear it over your bikini on the beach. Super lightweight, super sweat-friendly and really versatile. Due to the fact that I have 2 rather ugly and noticeable scars on my upper left arm plus my arms are definitely not my best feature, I like to cover them up when I can and have more or less sworn off sleeveless tops. A trusty linen blouse with rolled up sleeves is my best friend. If you are lucky enough to have a Uniqlo in where you live or visit one wherever, make sure to give their ever expanding linen-blouse line a closer look.
(No, I don't get compensated by Uniqlo to write this, nor have I ever got a free blouse from their line.)