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A Lass In Ireland - The Beginning

Meandering through the final quarter of MBA, having a job posting in hand and 2 months of vacation in April & May to look forward to, I sat idly wondering what I'd do to while away the time. Upskilling myself didn't appear appealing (2 years of doing just that takes a toll :P ) and talks with my seniors made me understand I could never be 100% equipped with the skills needed to thrive in the workplace till I actually got there and worked. Just when I came to the rather interesting proposition of going around various cultural hotspots in Tamil Nadu & beyond (the heatwave hadn't hit its intensity just yet then), my mom popped up a curious proposal - Why not accompany my sister & nephew back to their home in Ireland & stay with them for a month? My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, reading this.

A trip to another country? An opportunity to actually observe what I had read in HBR Case Studies as the unbeatable work-life balance of these cities? A literal movie-style "trip to Europe" as a well deserved break before I entered corporate? I hadn't even thought of this in my wildest imaginations.

Of course I heartily agreed. Who wouldn't?

Then started the dreaded reality check - getting a visa. Thankfully I had a valid passport in hand, making the process relatively simpler, but the immense number of documents to be scanned, printed, filled, mailed, couriered, photocopied, xeroxed again just-in-case, checked, double checked, carried physically (and mentally) to the Visa Office (only to be returned a quarter of the said papers, stating it wasn't necessary for a Short Stay with Family Visa), was highly frustrating.

Next came the waiting period. On paper, for those who had opted for express processing, the approval window was 10-14 working days. But of course that didn't happen. It took 5 weeks for the visa to be approved and the passport to be couriered (causing us to postpone the flight tickets by an entire week due to the delay).

So much for "Express Processing"

The first major milestone achieved and safely stored, we packed up and bundled ourselves to the airport, looking ahead to a 12-hour flight journey across 2 time zones with a 2 year old toddler. Should have been doable, right? Nope.

Going through immigration, waiting lounges, escalators and travelators, alternating between holding a highly strong willed baby and carrying 20-kg worth of baby bags, passport bags and handbags, hoping for the kiddo to sleep off in the flights (we were so exhausted), only to end up playing Wheels-on-the-bus on loop in cramped economy seats (3 seats available and he wanted the floor to rest on), was..... a very interesting experience. My sister and I were very apprehensive about the 7-hour non stop flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, bracing ourselves for the worst. Fortunately God loved us extra that flight - the baby slept off the entire time!

Just 8000 odd km away!

I made the most of the flight, not sleeping a wink! I saw 2 movies, played a few video games and plagued the airhosts with repeated requests for coffee, tea, juice and hot water. We finally landed at Ireland Time of 9 AM on Apr 10 (at a morning temperature of 2°C). As expected, it was raining and pouring. The Irish taxi driver gave friendly enquiries about India & was aghast hearing that Chennai was at 40°C ("Blimey I ain't never seen anythin' beyon' twenny" was her shocked expression ). Our suitcases braved the pelting drops and made it wet (but intact) to our apartment. We had our breakfasts and I wanted a short nap - I ended up sleeping for 7 hours.

Home for the month - And those are white clouds (not sunshine)

What all have I experienced here? What have I observed here? Coming up in Part 2!


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