Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Je t'aime Paris

I love Paris.

No, it's not because the cute hostess at the Italian Restaurant said in French that I "parlez beau fran├žais" (speak beautiful French) and winked at me. (She also rubbed the same eye later, but I'm pretty sure she winked.)

It's not because the architecture here is AMAZING.

It's not because the food is pretty Damn good.

It's not because the Seine river romantically flows gracefully through the city.

And it's not because the artwork and museums are world class.

But it might be because my cute tour guide was giving me seductive glances and winks throughout our cruise on the Seine River. (Ok, might be because the sun was hitting her right in the eyes, but I'm pretty sure we visually connected ;)

I definitely want to move to Paris for a little while and perfect my French. I studied for 4 years in school (and some time after school as well) and it's amazing how fast it comes back. I speak enough to "get by" and have a pretty darn good conversation with a 3 year old, but I will be toddler level speaking by the time I leave. The advantage I have though is that my accent is in fact very good and perfectly understandable. I just need to refresh my verb conjugation and beef up my vocab.

As for what we've done/seen in Paris, the list is exhaustive. We did all of the standard tourist stuff (Tour d'Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, Cathedral Notre Dame, Le Louvre, Palaise de Versailles) as well as some non-typical stuff (Musee' d'Orsee', Musee' Rodin, Montmartre, Seine Cruise, etc).

I've walked all over the city, and just for good measure, ridden the metro, bus, train, RER, and taxi. I've had croisant and cafe' au lait everyday for breakfast, and enjoyed Berthillion ice cream for after dinner dessert. I've had traditional French fair and French-Thai food (a little different than Pad Thai on the menu!).

I've had Frech wine and French Crepes. I'm telling you, I've done it all...and I still have a week left. Tomorrow, we leave for Normandy - our first stop in touring the West coast/countryside of France.

There are some peculiarities I've noticed thus far though:

  • Things are REALLY expensive. A "Coke Light" ranges from 2-4 Euros (2.50 - 6.00 dollars). A scoop of ice cream? 5 bucks. A coffee? Anywhere from 4-7 dollars. Ridiculous.
  • Tip is included in restaurant prices (which are exorbitant as well). I guess that's good.
  • When you pay the bill by credit card, they bring the machine over to your table and ring you up there and take the receipt. There's no taking the credit card to a hidden station, running it, and leaving it at your table to sign at leisure.
  • Soda refills are NOT free (I learned the hard way by paying 4 euros [6 bucks] for a refill in the restaurant at the Louvre). In fact, most places don't even have a fountain machine. (Speaking of which, have you ever notice that NO Thai restaurants in the U.S. have soda machines and always serve soda by the can?)
  • People eat late (so did we).
  • The French LOVE to party. We are staying on the Ile Saint Louis near the Seine and it seems like every night, there is a party going on on the streets.
  • The French get a bad rap for being rude. I've encountered pretty much no rudeness (or at least, no more than in the states). My speaking decent French may help, but my Mom usually asks questions in English and people have been pretty helpful.
  • The French deserve the rap they get from their lack of deodorant usage. Paris is infested with Smelly McSmellersons.
  • Every website on my computer is showing up in French and I'm too tired to figure out how to fix this. My Google automatically goes to "Google French". My spell check is highlighting every word in this post because it's checking for "Francaise". So, forgive me if this post is sloppy (as opposed to my normal perfection ;)
So, admittedly, I haven't posted as frequently as I intended. We've been out and about pretty much all the time so I haven't had a lot of down time. I also haven't uploaded my pictures to my compy yet (except for the "Cave of Wines" I took with my phone at the grocery store. Seriously, every grocery should have one of these. In the U.S., it'd be the "Cave du Bieres")

Tomorrow, we're headed for Normandy. Then the rest of the Western coast/countryside. It'll be interesting to REALLY experience France, away from the Urbanized setting.

More updates to come!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Around the World in 45 days: Prologue

Welp, the trip has officially begun. I'm sitting here in the tiny commuter terminal at San Diego International waiting to board the first flight of my "Round the World Trip O' Awesomeness!" and it is a DOOZY.....a whole 49 minutes up to L.A.

OK, so maybe that was a little anticlimactic, but commuter planes are the worst. To start, you begin in the Commuter Terminal which is by far the worst place to me in the airport. Once you pass security, there is a little snack stand with sodas on sale at 2 for $8! There is also a single male/female bathroom with ONE repository.

Once you board the plane, you have "valet" anything that won't fit under the seat in front of you...for these planes that almost everything since there's barely enough leg room to fit your own legs. In fact, calling it leg "room" is a little ridiculous.

Once in the air, there's a whole new barrel of inconveniences. Obviously, there's no in flight entertainment on these flights - understandable. But good luck trying to listen to music. The engines on these flying tin cans are so loud that even at max volume you can only hear when Celine Dion hits the high notes (not that I'm listening to her).

Ok, so music is out. Maybe I'll read a good book! Yea!

Uhh No.

The problem with these little planes is that they're also quite turbulent. Trying to read is just ASKING to get to use the lovely lunch sacks they leave in the seat pocket in front of you.

So this will be the first leg of my trip. Ok, so I'll admit I've exaggerated the badness of these short flights, but they're not fun....luckily they're also short.

In L.A. I have a 10.5 hour flight waiting to take me to Paris. My biggest issue with this flight??? I'M MISSING GAME 7 OF THE NBA FINALS!!! AHHHH!! I'm so pissed about this because I'm a huge Laker fan. I'm PRAYING that my airplane has satellite TV (unlikely but possible). I'm even considering upgrading my seat if that's what it's going to take.

International flights are usually pretty decent though. Good food, lots of entertainment, etc. Ironically though, this 10.5 hour flight is actually my SHORTEST flight after the San Diego to LA one. By the time this trip is over, I'll be an airplane flying expert!

But getting ready for a big trip is an interesting feeling. I had a big dinner with a bunch of friends as a send off. It'll be really weird getting out of my normal routine for so long. Not exercising regularly, eating sporadically, etc...but it'll be good for me. Routine can sometimes make you stagnant.

It's also interesting packing for two months. If you saw what I have, you'd probably think I'm packing for a week or two. I didn't bring a lot. One duffel and one backpack, neither all that full. I suppose I'll have to buy some stuff to bring back!

So here we go. Goodbye San Diego, Bonjour Paris!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Always Be a Hustler

The term "Hustler" many times has a negative connotation. Most people attribute "hustling" to basically finding illegitimate ways of making money. In reality, it just means you're outworking everyone else (out-"hustling" if you will) and finding non-conventional ways to make a buck.

In Hip-Hop culture, we usually associate that with selling drugs. (Do they work hard? Check. Is it an unconventional way to make a buck? Check.)

It also doesn't help that Larry Flynt publishes an "unconventional" magazine entitled Hustler as well.

I am a Hustler.

No, I don't peddle "special" brownies in the Ghettos of La Jolla, California nor do I publish or pose for any pornographic publications (although, when you have a body of a Greek God that looks forged by the hands of Zeus himself, could you blame me? ;) but I DO hustle.

For most of us, once we find a primary source of income, we don't hustle. We become content and ride out a "career" until retirement. But when you're a hustler, you give yourself options, you protect yourself from layoffs, you earn career flexibility, and you learn a lot.

When I was an Engineer, I started getting bored with having a "normal career." So, I started hustling. First, it was delving into something I like to do: writing. I had visions of making a fortune writing a blog and making a fortune on advertisements. Once I realized that the things I like to write about here are not conducive to effective ad placement, I changed my approach.

I began submitting articles and such to magazines and other websites. BOOM! Real money started coming in. Then, I decided to write the ebook. BAM! More money. Next, my Poker playing friend needed a consultant to establish trends on opponents. Having an aptitude for math, and I jumped on the opportunity. Again, more dollars.

Then, I saw an opportunity for an internet marketing position. Now, my internet marketing experience consisted only of what I did for The Social Charmer. But, I happen to be a pretty good writer (a bonus), and a very good interviewer. I won them over with my cover letter and my interviews.

By Hustling, I gave myself an opportunity to:
  1. Leave an incredibly boring corporate job.
  2. Work from the comfort of wherever I want that has an internet connection.
  3. Travel the World while still having some income.
  4. Work 10-20 hours per week.
To be fair, if I weren't entering graduate school in the fall, I would probably be hustling harder right now because I don't make enough to fully support everything I want to do in the long term. BUT, I still Hustle. I do periodic modeling gigs here and there. When I see a payed opportunity for writing or internet marketing, I apply. etc.

When I applied for graduate school, the only reason I was admitted to so many schools was because of my hustle. Without it, my resume would show a nice little career as a Logistics Engineer and a degree from Cal Poly. In other words, it would look like everyone else's. Instead, I was able to sight experience publishing a book, a newsletter, running a "company", a high position in a Nationally recognized charitable organization, and internet marketing...all while Engineering. All of a sudden I become interesting.

Without fail, the number one question I received in interviews was, "What can you tell me about this book you wrote??? I'm so curious!"

Additionally, by delving into writing four years ago, I have become a MUCH better writer which again translated into unique, funny college essays.

In the fall, my Hustle will take a new direction. I'll be hustling for opportunities at UCSD that will push me in the ultimate direction of Professorship and Entrepreneurship. This means I'll be emailing around for research opportunities, volunteering for any entrepreneurial experiences, and basically outworking other people for opportunities outside of the classroom.

Don't get stuck in the routine of what everyone else is doing. Outwork them. Be Creative. Take risks. If you want to get ahead. If you want to WIN. If you want to do what you WANT, you have to Always Be a Hustler.