Unlike the title may suggest, I did not venture to Narnia via cablecar, although what an interesting 8th installment that would be! I’ll leave Narnia to C.S. Lewis, and instead talk about the hidden paradise that is Albania, yet again (and if I do make it to Narnia, you better expect a kick-ass blog post about that too).
In all actuality, my second week in Albania was probably not a bestseller. Not to say it was “bad” at all; just simply one for routine, and just a bit different being halfway around the world. I suppose a rose by any other name truly isjust as sweet (even if that sometimes translates to horse poop and men with staring problems).
This being my first full week in Tirana, Albania, it was a week of settling down and into my internship. Let’s paint a picture: white asylum walls, luminescent lights more blinding than the sun, monotonously ticking clock suspended in the corner. Traffic bleeping outside like famished baby birds. Stained napkins protruding from small waste bins filled with crumpled up papers and cigarette butts. Black coffee, artificially sweetened, perched precariously on the edge (just like our sanity).
No, it wasn’t really that bad, and please excuse my hyperbole. Nonetheless, I did get a taste of the full office drone experience.
It sounds like clocks ticking and nimble fingers sweeping across keyboards. It feels like beads of sweat sticking to our backs. It feels like the hot dog days of summer, trading in polka-dot swim trunks for long black pants. Lugging around briefcases because we’re adults now.
That ticking. My God.
If clocks could talk they would probably snicker at the sheer amount of frustration they cause bored humans.
It’s okay though, because after a couple hours of research each day (which turned out to be the equivalent of running around in circles like a chicken with my head cut off) I always knew I had Tae Kwon Do at the end of the night. I sweat more than I thought I had water in my body. And the headless chicken metaphor was really how it felt at the beginning – I spent three days fruitlessly scrolling through grants, actually reading the fine print (because at a job like this, lying when you say “yes, I have read and agree to the terms and conditions” is asking for a legal headache down the road).
On day four however, a tiny lead turned into eureka moment and a very promising proposal, and this office drone was filled with renewed purpose. I went from having no clue what I was doing to being on the phone with stakeholders from all over Europe, working on getting a proposal in and my organization added to the board lightning quick. Little to say, with a deadline less than a week away, I learned about the intricacies of grant-writing real fast.
I always knew the long black pants were magic.
Now with my first task at my internship under my belt (it’s just like budgeting for myself – except multiplied by a couple factors and with a major impact on Albanian tourism. No pressure.) and on my second week of Tae Kwon Do, I’m starting to find a groove here. There’s no wifi in the apartment, but I can always manage to find a cafe around the corner for after-hours work (and occasionally just to feel hipster, of course). The city of Tirana is generally a safe one; the park is always full of runners and children; even the culture in bars does not entail messy drunks. In addition to the Tae Kwon Do and work, I even started running in the park in the mornings. Like, 6 am runs. Because I’m a crazy person.
That’s another weird part of the new routine – I have been going to bed at 10 pm. This is coming from a girl who would call 2 am early on a school night.
Cruel world, what have I become?
With my week now properly routinized (is that a word? It should be a word), the weekend is where routine ends and adventure begins. Last weekend my wonderful aunt came, and treated me and my roommates to a museum tour and cablecar visit of Mount Dajti. If Narnia exists in Tirana, Mount Dajti is the closest bet. After trying my aim at some balloons in a carnival-style shooting game, we had a traditional Albanian dinner on the mountain peak.
With stuffed eggplant, strawberry and pesto ravioli, great company, and an amazing view of Tirana stretching all the way to the sparkling Adriatic, you could say I was living the high-life *snickers at my altitude joke*
To finish this writing (I do not like the word blog – it makes me feel like a lovelorn, teary-eyed preteen writing anonymously into the abyss of the interweb), last night we attended a true Albanian concert. Hosted in the main square, a couple popular DJ’s came out to sing about typical rapper-things under the monument of country hero Skenderbeg himself. These are the developments that I found of interest:
- In America, there would have definitely been a couple noise violations.
- Also in America, the government probably wouldn’t allow videos of strippers, twerking, use of the n- and f-words, or other profanities in the main square at a free holiday concert with children.
- It was like a dance club, but no one was dancing. Dancing is frowned upon in public. If you’d like, you can quietly sing the lyrics.
- From my own knowledge, it seems as if the girls in the videos are dancing because the point is to be objectified, in particular by the rapper’s lyrics. At least there’s consistency?
- If the concert had one redeeming quality, the light show was sort of pretty. Also, I couldn’t understand the lyrics, so my knowledge of their meaning issecond hand.
Mirupafshim, until we meet again.