Thursday, January 10, 2008

Couch Surfing

I've spent the last week or so couch surfing in Manhattan.  For those of you who are not familiar with the term - couch surfing - refers to the act of sleeping on a different friend's couch every night of the week.  I'm not one of those people who feel comfortable staying at a friend's apartment for too long.  One night is almost never a problem and it's something you can do on the spur of a moment.  Plus I like the idea of spending a night at a different person's house, so it works out.  I'm going to petition the IOC to make it an Olympic sport by 2012.

Couch surfing is something I do in cities that I've lived at before which I come back to visit and I still have lot of friends who stuck around.  That would include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Singapore, Baltimore, Washington D.C. 

As fun as it is there's a sad feeling associated with couch surfing.  You're in this town which you used to call home and you visit the home of all these friends who still call it home.  There is a feeling of nostalgia and sometimes there is this unbearable desire to get back the life that you used to have.

I am one of those people who has lived in New York City for 5 years and have never gone to the statue of liberty or skated in Rockefeller center.  I am also one of those people who when I go to another city don't have any particular desire to go to their touristic equivalents.  Mostly it's because I don't know how to appreciate shit.  This is absolutely true.  For example Jonathan drove me around Paris and showed me around.  Our conversation went something like this:

Jon:  "Ok ... so that's where the French national assembly meets.  I believe that building is over 500 years old.... Dude!  Are you even looking?"
Toshi:  "Yeah, yeah... that's great"
Jon:  "Ok... here is the Opera building.  The architecture is amazing right?"
Toshi:  "Dude, check out that girl!  She's hot!"
Jon:  "Uh... is there anything else you would like to see on your last day in Paris?"
Toshi:  "Let's go catch a movie.  I wonder if 'I am legend' is playing somewhere in English?"

And yet I love couch surfing when I visit a city.  I like the idea of witnessing the daily routine of a person who lives there.  Anyway, the great thing about going to a school as international as INSEAD is that whatever the city, whatever the country, chances are I'll know someone there.  There's definitely a chance you'll see me on the couch pretty soon.