It's been raining on all my plans here in Ottawa for most. But I'm not complaining. I've had relaxed getting-up-late in the mornings, enjoying a cup of coffee with random strangers in the hostel, chatting over beer, playing cards, taking a walk in the rain, smelling the rainy-smell, sitting with my book and a nice frothy hot chocolate in a french bakery, people-watching, soaking in the foreign-ness, shopping in street-side shops and chatting up shopkeepers from Kashmir and Ecuador and all over..Today I found a huge used books store (all of four floors) and spent a long time there, just enjoying the smell, very different from the smell of a Borders or a Crosswords. More like the smell of the Ramkrishna Mission library I frequented when I lived in Bombay. I have been having a nice time for most. I didn't get to go biking or do much touristy stuff but given that it's not my first time here, I don't feel too bad. I am enjoying the relaxed pace of this enforced vacation.
Having never really lived in a hostel for any extended time in my life, I totally enjoy these stays in a hostel when I travel. You get to meet all kinds of people from world over, some touring around, some living out of a backpack for god knows how long..the hippie type and the happy type. And the gay type also, there's a lot of them here. I enjoy the congenial atmosphere in the lounge, squabbling over TV channels, enjoying movies together or just chatting. I totally recommend the Backpackers Inn for staying here in Ottawa. It's just a 10 min walk from the US Embassy (if you're coming here for visa work) and one of the warmest most friendly atmospheres I've seen amongst all the hostels I've stayed in. (Admittedly, I've just stayed in 4). It's also clean and well-kept, affordable at $24 a night and the inn-keeper Martin is super-friendly and helpful and accommodating.
Some pics are here
So my stay's been mostly fun, except when the nights come. I dread the nights. It's hot as hell in my dorm room (no. no ACs in the hostel) and very hard to sleep. At first I was all excited about sleeping on a top bunk bed because I've always been fascinated by the idea, but it's perhaps not the best for summer months.
I am feeling quite at home here at the hostel. I have been toying with the idea of doing something like Felipe now. Felipe is a a webpage designer by profession but got tired of the routine and decided to take a few months off to travel. He's backpacking around a network of backpacker's hostels, living on meagre savings and not worried about anything. When he goes back, he'll start afresh, he says. I let my mind wander into the fantasy for a bit. We are so not conditioned to think of life like that. There always has to be an agenda, a direction. Study, get a job, work hard, make yourself a career, get married, work harder at career plus marriage, have kids, work even harder blah blah blah. We've never factored in the time for a few months long break..to just get away from everything and not worry about anything. As I start drifting into fantasy, my mind raises all kinds of questions. 1)How? you don't even have any savings. 2) How do you plan on catching up with the all the changes in your field when you go back? 3) Wouldn't you rather save this time for a break when you have a kid or something? 4)And this is the biggest question of all, a 29-year old has to ask herself: "how will you explain this to mom and dad?".
Most of those questions, I know, can be silenced. But money or lack thereof is a real deterrent. Yeah, may be I could find odd jobs while doing this, to see myself through. I don't think it will be that easy, given that there are so many jobless people around as it is. I ask the inn-keeper if he'd give me a job in the inn. He said he cannot afford to hire anymore people. Morever, I definitely don't want to stay put here in Ottawa for the length of my break. The idea is to travel...but even if it were to be to stay put at one place, i'd pick a better place than Ottawa. May be a remote beach-village somewhere..ahh..I think i'm going to let myself daydream on this for a little while more..before I board that flight back to phila and all the reality that awaits. :/
*Due apologies to the Counting Crows