Monday, August 25, 2008

Westside till I Die - New York, Philly, Frankfurt, Brussels, Vienna

So, I've been doing a lot of moving around lately.  My project in the Philippines ended and for some reason I don't fully understand I was sent to Philadelphia.  This is basically the other side of the planet.  It's amazing how email makes very long distances seem close.  I wish the same could be said about 24+ hours of transcontinental flights but hey, at least I'm racking up the milage. 

I traveled from New York to Philadelphia via the super fast Acela train which covers the distance in exactly 1 hour.  I felt like a big shot until someone pointed out the much cheaper, more frequent regional train which takes exactly one hour and twenty minutes. Somewhere the ghost of John D. Rockafeller just guffawed.  Although I've lived in Baltimore and New York I've never really spent a lot of time in their northeastern sibling.  I learned that there is a good part of Philly and a bad bad part of Philly, the political boundaries of which - like Georgia's - arbitrarily change depending on who you ask.  After a year abroad it was really nice to be somewhere that's - and I'm not being trying to be sarcastic - kind of ghetto.  There's something comforting about going to a fancy bar where they serve "the mojito", and have 10 different kinds of miniaturized mexican fast food items as finger food. 

New York
It's nice to be back in the hometown.  I nearly cried walking around in the East Village.  Someone on the street asked me what was wrong.  I said, no nothing's wrong, it's just nice to be back home.  Then she asked me if I could spare some change.  It really is good to be back home.  Weather was great and lounging around central park made me feel like a new man.  My timing was perfect.  The investment bankers make migrate annually to the big city around August and I was in the thick of it.  I was really looking forward to seeing my INSEAD friends.  As an American who spent the year abroad doing his MBA in Europe and seeing my attemps at picking up women upstaged by my smoother, classier European counterparts I thought I'd be nice to finally see the tables turned.  Wrong.  I quickly learned that my European counterparts who were better at picking up women in Europe were also better in America also.  I also I learned this:  American girls will fall for any man with an accent thus making them the easiest women in the world.  Oh well, at least I saw the Dark Knight 3 times (twice on IMAX bitches)!


After New York I spent 2 weeks in Brussels.  Like pretty much every city in Europe the people of Brussels claims their city was once the center of human civilization.  I'm not sure how valid this claim is but considering that this is where they convene the EU and InBev, the Belgium beer maker who bought out Budweiser is based here, they at least make a strong argument.  One nice plus about Belgium is that have populations that speak Dutch/Flemish and French and hence you can reliably get by on everybody's default language English.  On the weekend I took the train to a real life fairy tale town called Bruges.  This is an almost pristine 14th century European city filled with romantic churches, cobble stone streets, gingerbread houses, and the quaintest Pizza Hut you've ever seen.  Isn't it just adorable?

Walking around the city of Mozart the one thing that strikes you is how freaking beautiful the people are.  No wonder Amadeaus wanted to get the hell out of Saltzburg!  Honestly, the city is filled with tall, gorgeous, blond men and women that bring out all your insecurities.  It's like you're back in middle school with braces, glasses and discount Kmart tshirts.  People are exceedingly friendly in Vienna.  At least three guys came up to me asking (in an Austrian accent), would I like to go to the hottest disco in Vienna?  In any other circumstance, I'd think wow this gay guy got the wrong idea.  But here you don't get any sense of iill will.  Helps that some of the nicest people I knew at my year of INSEAD were Austrian too.  Goes to show What an impression a few people can make on an entire country.

Back in Frankfurt.  Where will the job take me next?  Hopefully will be back in Asia but will depend on staffing.  More to come this week.    


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