where business and the global underground intersect. currently based in Berlin/Moscow.
“S. E. X. / Can you give it to me? / S. E. X. / How fast can you do me?”
a city for people
what does it mean when a city is designed for its people? where the infrastructure and systems in place value the time and comfort of citizens.
i just took CHF 315 compensation from Swiss Airlines to rebook to a later connecting flight to Barcelona. Swiss, in this moment, was an airline that valued my time — perhaps more than i myself value it.
and in general the European Union has a comprehensive and generous legislation on passenger rights. in the chaotic world of commercial aviation, hiccups and reroutings happen, but the time of you the passenger will be valued and, if needed, compensated. i’ve heard and seen this firsthand.
this isn’t a gush post about Europe, but this is one thing Europe gets right. and as i’m starting this blog on Moscow’s transformation in a city designed with its people in mind, i wonder…
Europe is designed to value people. Moscow is becoming more designed to value people. China, Beijing and Shanghai, where the sheer quantity of people seems to tacitly imply a reduction in each single one’s value, is not much designed to value people.
i maintain that this has more to do with a people’s self-esteem than any external factors.
anyways. enough about that. i’m already planning to rebrand my baby blog into Moscow For People — something like that, anyways. there are many Russian-language sites like The Village and Большой город that focus on the city’s comforts and cultural events, not the hard news that Russia always seems to be involved in. but where are the English counterparts? there hardly are any.
i want to show other foreigners the comforts and slices of home that i’ve found in Moscow. because that’s what i see Moscow as, home — not some specimen of a city-system with novel politics to be studied.
above all, i want to foster arts and culture in this city. make it a cultural Mecca that itinerant artists flock to for inspiration. i want creative types to fill the blank of “i’m going to ______ for a month to write/draw/make music/find ideas for my dissertation” with “Moscow,” just as easily as they fill it with “London,” “Paris” or “Berlin” now.
gonna go research coworking spaces now.
my life is like “L’auberge espagnole” on repeat
have you, dear reader, seen this quintessiantial flick on foreign exchange? a French student goes on Erasmus to Barcelona (a laughably short distance for “foreign exchange” in today’s world) and encounters Catalonians, Spaniards, Europeans and people from all over the world with whom he discusses identity and feelings of both alienation and assimilation, or a surprising sense of belonging in a new place.
since watching that movie in an International Studies class my junior year of college, it became a representation of my life for a period. whether i was studying in Madrid or Tomsk, or living in Miami and hearing all these Latin Americans talk about their countries and cultures. i figured after awhile all these “background-level” exchanges of sharing collective background information would mostly tide over and as i became more culturally savvy, i’d be able to “skip” more and more of these conversations — graduate to “advanced” intercultural friendships based more on compatible personality, interests and worldview, than cultural exchange. i could regularly socialize in the foreground of personalities, not the background of their contexts.
and while i do feel i’ve “graduated” in a way in that there’s less basic cultural information that needs to be explained to me, which sometimes bogs down (or enriches — but to me it feels like bogging down) the flow of conversation, the fact is, “L’auberge espagnole”-style “background-level” cultural exchange never ends. it’s foolhardy to even hypothesize so.
as i return to the city in which that movie takes place, these are the thoughts that visit me. it has been 6 years since i first launched into Western Eurasia and i feel i have incorporated 2 identities since then, Latin and Russian, on top of my Chinese-American one. as i travel to Barcelona now, i look forward to greeting a new city — not only to see how much it has changed, but also for it to show me how much i’ve changed since i was that almost 18-year old girl wandering around Las Ramblas on a 4-hr train connection to Italy for se(tti)mana santa.
i use tumblr totally wrong
do you ever feel like things are going your way, you’re on the right path and some result is just around the corner? for better or for worse, i feel like that.
even though on paper, my life looks messy. haven’t worked, spent savings, German visa denied. what keeps me from being a failure though, is that i don’t feel like or see myself as one. instead, i feel like i’m onto something that i uniquely am equipped to do — if i can prove it with hard work.
tomorrow morning i fly to Barcelona. as has been the case lately, i was debating not going. no money. will miss my decks for 5 days. still no host cuz i’ve procrastinated on sending requests.
i’ll still go. but when did i become such an old fart? lately i’ve been vacillating on all my trips with the excuse “stay at home where it’s familiar and safe.” this is so not the Lily of before. maybe it’s progress in a way, actually liking my daily routine. yeah, we’ll go with that.
but i need to always welcome the new and uncertain into my life. randomness and chance. when i stop doing that, i stop being me and i start dying.
i know as soon as i land in Barcelona, the side of me that’s like a spy on a mission will come out. feel the shift as all my instincts kick into gear and i do the place-hacking i feel i was born to do. come alive, basically.
and judging by the circumstances, i’ll need to. no cash in my bank account until Wednesday. still need to find lodging for Tuesday night, and the nights thereafter. am i going to Madrid on Friday for entrance exams or not? also need to find someone to live in my room when i leave.
but i’m due for a shaking-up. let’s do this.