Monday, 29 October 2012

Weekend events

So, how was your weekend? For the bloggers in the States, are you affected by Sandy? I really feel for you. It must be so frightening to feel so powerless against the forces of nature, just waiting for it to pass and pray for the best. The satellite images look so scary… On this side of the pond, things are different. We had some really cold days but nothing too serious. We really felt the winter coming which for me isn’t really an issue. I found my scarf and my winter coat from last year and tried to enjoy it.

It was a bit funny because I met a new Brazilian guy on Saturday. He’s a friend of my ‘Brazilian’, the guy I mentioned in a previous post with whom I still keep in touch. My ‘Brazilian’ suggested I should meet his friend who very recently moved to the UK for a year, to study ‘Design’. It would be good for him to know more people in the city since he doesn’t really know many. So, we arranged to meet on Saturday. JJ had some studying to do of his own and I went alone. Since I didn’t know him, it felt a bit like a blind date, without of course being one.

We had only exchanged a few messages on facebook before meeting. That evening the weather wasn’t very good. There were some showers and it was relatively cold. I wanted to walk around the centre to show him the area. However, being from a part of the world where the temperature is almost always around 25 degrees, he could really feel the cold. He doesn’t even have a proper winter jacket/coat yet. I told him to get one if he wants to survive the winter. We’re on in Antarctica, but still, some nights can really get freezing, especially if you’re not used to it. However, with some minor stops in cafes and bars to warm up and being equipped with my umbrella, we managed to walk around a bit and talk about the area. He’s generally a very nice guy and we might see him again soon.

On a different and far more important matter, I met and talked to my in-laws this weekend! ‘JJ’ Skypes them on an almost weekly basis and he suggested that it would be nice to actually talk before my arrival to their house. Till now, they knew about me, but we hadn’t actually ‘met’. However, I wasn’t really prepared for it. I was doing dishes yesterday morning, waiting for my guest to get ready before going out for a walk. ‘JJ’ was supposed to be studying upstairs, when I heard him coming downstairs while speaking Afrikaans! And ‘Surprise’, he came holding his laptop facing me and told me to talk to them!!!! I was a bit taken by surprise to say the least, but maybe that was better than knowing about it and getting stressed about it. Meeting the parents is a big thing. Meeting the parents of your gay boyfriend whose ideas on homosexuality are still a bit debatable, as far as I know, can be a bit intimidating.

However, it all went very smoothly. I said good morning to them, thanked them for the invitation and we chatted a bit about how excited we are for the trip. They were polite enough, smiling and friendly. I’ve later learnt that they agreed to come along with us while visiting the city one day. I had suggested to JJ that there is a ‘hop on / hop off’ type of bus with a guide for the city monuments. That could be an easy way to see places comfortably and his parents said they might come along!

I’ve also learnt that his mother is planning a massive feast for us on the day we arrive! The bad thing is that JJ told her about some of my different dietary habits, when I told him not to! OK, I have to admit I’m a bit weird when it comes to food. Like a spoilt child, there are common things I don’t enjoy eating like mushrooms, peppers, raisins, olives and raw tomatoes! I know that the tomatoes one is a bit weird. On my defence I don’t mind cooked tomatoes or when they are chopped in smaller pieces in a sandwich for example, but I’m not too keen on having bit chunks of them in a tomato salad.

In addition, I have to say that I eat all these stuff if mixed with other ingredients in a dish. For example if I was given a pizza with small chopped pieces of mushrooms I’d gladly eat it. If the pieces were slightly big, I might pick some out, but have the rest. It’s just I wouldn’t have any, if served alone. Also, I can eat almost anything if I have no other choice. For example, if his mother cooks something that I don’t like, I will politely eat a small portion without saying a thing. I’ve joined the army and I had some really bad food served from time to time. I can survive. It’s just, when given a choice; I would not have something I don’t really enjoy. That is why I told JJ not to tell her about it because I didn’t want to sound difficult or make a fuss out of it, but…

In any case, I’m counting the days to our trip…

Monday, 22 October 2012

Africa calling

When dating someone of different origin there can be differences of culture, ideas, language and upbringing. These can be an obstacle for some people who have the need to communicate in their mother language to their other half and share anecdotes, jokes, recipes, widely known facts from their country etc. However, these differences to me act in the exact opposite way. I find people from other countries interesting. I love learning about their culture, their customs, language and history. Since coming to London I never dated another Greek. I don’t usually hang out in places that Greeks frequent and it was easier to find people from various other backgrounds, since London is well known for that.

Anyway, ‘JJ’ is from South Africa but has been living in London for many years. We get along amazingly well and we had discussed in the past about visiting his country. It’s only fair since we’ve been in Greece so many times already! It hasn’t been easy to plan this trip because it can be a bit expensive, especially the flights, and it also demands lots of free available days. However, the time has come and we will be going to SA very soon!!! I’m so excited, you can only imagine! I’ve never been to Africa and the stories I’ve heard and documentaries I’ve seen are extraordinary!

So, we’ve booked our flights, a car and some days in various places around the countryside. We even plan to spend a couple of days in a wildlife nature reserve! I’m so looking forward to seeing Africa’s big five out in the open and not a small cage in a zoo! I hope we’ll even get a chance to see whales or even sharks. Apparently if you’re lucky there’s not even a need to take a boat since there are bays where these massive mammals and fish are visible from the shore! It’s going to be so great!

What’s also really interesting and special about our trip is the fact that we’ll stay a couple of days at JJ’s parents’ place. It’s going to be a first for all of us. JJ never took a guy he’s dating to see his parents and I’ve also never met ‘parents’ in my life. So, we’re all a bit excited and nervous at the same time. His mother already said she’s planning the menu for the days we’ll be staying there and sounds welcoming. But as far as I understood we’ll be staying in different rooms and most likely act like good friends / housemates.

I don’t really have a problem with that to be honest. We’re not a couple that displays lots of affection in public anyway. I’ve never been the type of person that shows easily his emotions in public and under their roof, I’ll play by their rules. But I believe they will in generally like me if given a chance. I can be a nice, likeable person if I want to. However, they will meet me after a very (very) long flight…

So, for the next couple of weeks before the trip, I have some preparations to do. I need to learn some more Afrikaans. I know some very basic words and phrases, but I’d like to learn more. I also want to learn something more about the history of the country and its geography. Plus, I need some ‘safari’ clothes like cargo pants and boots. I don’t want any nasty surprises of snakes biting me while walking around.

Speaking of which, JJ’s been crazy the last few days with animal documentaries. OK, he’s always been a massive fan of channels like ‘National Geographic’ or ‘Animal Planet’  but this time it’s different. Every night for the last few days we’ve been watching footage of wild animal attacks, high majority of which happen to humans in wild animal parks! He told its part of my training! Lol… I’ve seen elephants charging in jeeps in South Africa, lions attaching tourists in central Africa, sharks eating swimmers in Australia and massive snakes biting people in Central America!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Through someone else’s eyes…

I’ve mentioned before that for the month of October, a very good friend of mine from my childhood is staying over at our place. He’s doing a temporary placement and he’s busy during the day, but I generally try to entertain him during some evenings or the weekends to show him London and places that he will not easily find in a guide book.

Having a coffee in the morning across the street from the Royal Court House

In case you were wondering, some shops already have Christmas stuff 

 And to be honest I’ve been enjoying these outings very much! We’ve done so many different things the last days which were a very nice distraction from my daily routine. For example we visited parts of West London like the Holland Park where I hadn’t been in months if not years. It’s such a beautiful park and walking around the surrounding areas is so enjoyable. The architecture of the buildings, the tranquillity of the park and the sunny weather made that walk very nice. Or we went to Tate Modern to see a ‘Munch’ exhibition.

The view from Tate Modern

Watching people making globes in the 'Royal Geographical Society' 

We even did a ‘Jack the Ripper’ tour last week! We met a guide in the Eastern part of the city, late one evening, and she took us around the area and showed us where the various killings occurred. She had a small projector and she showed us pictures of that time and actual photographs of the victims and their autopsies. She was generally stating the facts without exaggerations. I was afraid it would be a time wasting experience with the guide trying to be extra scary but thankfully that wasn’t the case. She was actually very funny and didn’t take herself or what she was doing too seriously which made the experience quite enjoyable and amusing. We talked about the various conspiracy theories and possible suspects.

The Japanese garden in the Holland Park

Seeing London through the eyes of a guest can be rejuvenating. It’s a very beautiful city with an endless source of different things to do and small escapes here and there. Here are some pictures I took the last week.

A nice lady in Clapham

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Work gossip

In my company, we have male toilets every second floor. There are no urinals, only a couple of cubicles in each floor. What I noticed when I first used them was the fact that there is a mirror above each toilet sit.  The mirrors are quite big and you can’t help but see yourself, full frontal, when standing to do your thing. What’s a bit weird though is the fact that someone complained about these mirrors and had them covered!!! My simple question is why?

Can’t you stand to look at yourself pee? In theory, since you do it standing up, otherwise the mirror wouldn’t really concern you, you watch what you do and hopefully hold it to target the big ‘hole’! So, you are watching anyway! Why are you bothered? Maybe if you’re so insecure for whatever reason about your male parts, maybe the mirror is a good thing and you’ll get more accustomed with what you’ve got. No matter what, try to love your ‘tools’. Is it a religious thing?

I was just curious about it, since someone was really bothered about it that much to go and find the building manager, who had to order coloured sticky paper and cover around 2 dozens of big mirrors during last weekend…

Anyway, that’s my week’s question. Other than that, I’m well. I’ve been extremely busy at work, trying to deal with directors’ demands! Gosh, they can be very spoilt sometimes. They act like small children wanting their ice cream! I demonstrated to a couple of them some new technologies (they are impressive I have to admit) and they want it ‘right NOW’! They’re not even sure what they want, they just ask for things to be done in two weeks! Why is it always two weeks? And it’s not like I don’t have other things to worry about or other directors breathing on my neck. And to close that very boring work topic, there is a difference between meating and meeting, you imbecile, making 10 times the amount of money I’m making and you can’t even use spell checker…

Anyway, that was my small rant for the day. Fortunately, I’m out of the office next week. I’m in training for 5 days and so happy about that!