Friday, March 24, 2006

Sin - What is it?

[File under: The Next Adventure]

Last saturday, I had a flight out of O´Hare at 6:05 pm. The Plan this time around was to have my laundry done the previous night, and packed etc and get to the airport with sufficient time, and not spend mucho dinero on a cab. My last-minute flight was costly enough.

As things usually turn out in this corner of our beautiful world, I ended up dinnering with two of my favorite people from the GSB on friday night, and the clothes went into the washer only around 2:30 PM saturday. All said and done, I missed the train to O´hare by a minute. Which meant a 50 $ cab ride. What´s funny - or About Time, some might say - is that as I watched the train leave the station, and was pissed about spending the money on a cab, I thought about Economics ! About sunk costs of a non-refundable ticket etc. The etc is because I don´t think anything else that came to mind made any sense.

But, it was a good decision. Got to the airport on time, checked in with plenty time, and headed to security check. There, as has become routine, the woman took one look at me, circled something on my boarding card, and sent me to the ´special´ security check line. As I proceeded to get frisked and my luggage bomb-sniffed, I couldn´t help wonder if there wasn´t something else at play here.

See, as I was walking in, the one-who-circled-my-card woman also noticed the book I was holding in my hand. It was a copy of ¨The Merciful Women¨, by Federico Andahazi. The cover of the book has a semi-nude woman with like half her torso exposed. No, it isn´t that kind of book. It´s art, man. Anyways, in a mutual ´you see my book, i see yours´ exchange of glances, I happened to notice the cover of the book she put down. It was titled: ¨Sin - what is it?¨ and a subtext about what the Bible says about sins and sinners.

I obviously jest when I suggest that she wanted to put me through the extra security check for my reading books with sinner-type covers. But, on a more serious note, why the fuck are federal government employees allowed to read religious material on the job - especially those who are incharge of security at airports? I seriously don´t get it. Would it be of any surprise that this person put every Arab-looking person walking through there through these checks. Would it be of any surprise that this person gave a free pass to a potential bad guy who didn´t look like one of the Bible-suggested bad guys? I know, I am making judgement calls about a person based on a book they may just have been leafing through or something, and maybe I shouldn´t, (or maybe it´s OK, because others make similar calls based on things like skin color), but it was just a tad disturbing.

However, this disturbing was nothing compared to the disturbingness of the book. It was filled with gems such as these:

The second possibility was that, because of the abstinence to which his remote dwelling condemned him, Derek Talbot might be tempted by the picture to indulge in solitary satisfaction, at which point, with amazingly good timing, we would pounce on the precious fruit of his forbidden pleasure.

Ewww! (OK, I didn´t really know it, but it was that kind of book :) I have to say, at some point, the whole thing was more funny that faux-erotic or whatever it was supposed to be. I picked it up at a used book store earlier in the week. In part, because of a glowing review:

¨Is Andahazi a writer touched by a magic wand? Has he made a pact with a demon: his soul in exchange for these little pearls?

Not too bad. But, I should have looked closer - it could have been a tad biased. The review was by an Argentine newspaper. And, Andahazi is an Argentine author who lives in Buenos Aires. Which is where I was headed. (and the reason i picked up this book was to read an author from there)

The security check cleared, I flew to Miami and changed planes to get on my ride to BsAs. The seat belt signs are turned on, everyone is settled, doors close and the pilot gets on the intercom. The flight is going to be delayed by 45 minutes because they blew two tyres on the landing and they need to be replaced. It was a full two hours before we took off. And, they came around serving drinks.

¿Agua, senor?

Aha. One of the interesting things about South America that I found during my previous trip came back to me. You need to specify if you want your water with or without gas. I was so ready for this one.

¨Sin gas, por favor¨

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If Le Voyageur can, so Should I.

Blog during finals week, that is. Those were my thoughts as I was speeding across town last week. I wanted to write something for long, but I've been affected by a bad case of Writer's Block.

And then I check this comment from her: "Alright, right back at ya PY. You haven't posted in WAY too long."

I know, sorry. Like I said, Writer's Block. (ok, that's an excuse. me admits)

She continued: "What are you studying for finals or something?"

Le V! How can you! OK, I did (finally !) do a little bit of studying. But my week leading upto finals was filled with farewell parties, running rescue missions, midnight breakfasts, being late for finals, and the like.

Here's the story.

Well, the Big Plan was to get to my two take home finals over the weekend (the one before last) so that I could manage to atleast find some time to prepare for my Investments final, which I was in seriously grave danger of flunking. Saturday night a good friend who is going to Turkey next quarter had a see-you-in-6-months party. It was supposed to last from 8-11, so I headed out there, only to end up not getting into bed until 3 in the morning.

Next day (St. Paddy's) I was woken up around like 3 in the afternoon I think by a friend. Well, she and others had gone to the south side for a parade and the bus they were supposed to take to get back left without them. and they were at around 100th street south. (for non-Chicagoans - anything south of 60th is a no-no zone). So I headed out through some really bad neighborhoods, picked them up, and we ended up getting dinner, and it was like 7-plus by the time I got back home.

The Big Plan was, like, a non-starter. So, I decided to hit the Investments books. In the library. Now, this is a new thing for me. I've start to hang out at the library of late. The Regenstein Library is supposed to be the most used university library in the US (and it made some list of top 10 libraries to pick up people. Unrelated to my purely academic pursuits, of course :) So, I get to the library around 10 and just as I am settling down there was a commotion and the music starts. Music. Yeah. Turns out a group of around 20 undergrads had practised a dance routine and they put on a performance. It was really cool. The studying here can get to people, big time. (as an aside, they make T-shirts here that read: The University of Chicago - Where the only thing that'll go down on you is your GPA !)

Anyways, a couple of hours later, as I finally understand what the big deal is about tangency portfolios and the CAPM, I feel hungry. I had like eaten a big dinner earlier. Turns out, it was from the smells of food that people were walking in with. Some investigation later, it was revealed that there was a free 'midnight breakfast' in one of the halls on campus. And, of course, it's my duty to partake in free food fests. So, I headed out and it was awesome. The atmosphere that is. They had reggaeton music blaring, hundreds of students - some in pajamas - lining up to get fed and just chill. Satisfied, I headed back to the library and the books. It took Fama-French to put me to sleep that night.

Cut to tuesday (I have no recollection of monday, except that I didn't probably get any studying done). I had to get to a consulate, which I barely did as they started to close, and then headed to Gleacher to work on my first take-home final. I had a week to do it, and here I was, opening it 2 hours before it was due. It took me 3, and I ended up submitting it an hour late.

On the way out, I ran into a classmate for my other take-home-final class. Of course, the good Chicago student he is (which is probably the 549 of us other than me!) he had already done this case and handed it in. Asked him how long it took him, and he was like - you know, the usual for a take home. Around 12 hours. A-ha. The damn thing was due at 5 PM next evening. I had time.

Wednesday around 2. Finally got to the case. Took me 4 hours. And it was rough. Due at 5. Submitted at 6:30. Sent the professor a note. Same-day penalty will be applied. Cool.

I was destressing in the winter garden when I realized, at like 7:30, that I don't own a calculator. Investments final at 8 AM the next morning. Sweet. Luckily, there was an office depot closeby and I got a calculator. Ended up staying up all night for the final. It was really rough. At around 6, I so so so felt the urge to lie down for a bit. But - and again, this is a new thing for me - convinced myself to go for a walk, shower, coffee, coffee, and head to the exam. 10 minutes late. But, I think I did OK.

After the exam, headed back to the consulate again, and then off to a high-school (on the south side) to talk to 9th graders about India. This was interesting. One of the first questions I got asked was: "do you work at 7-11?" I was almost tempted to say "i will, if they give me an internship" :-) After that, I came home and finally went to bed.

Woke up. It was like 12. Like noon. Like the next day. Like another exam. In like 3 hours. And, like, I had to study for it. I just read through some of my notes and headed over. Again, 10 minutes late. But, it was a beautiful thing. I think the 20 hour sleep was just what I needed. I was so fresh that I actually remembered stuff from class and I guess I did wing it decent good.

And so, it ends. Another quarter. On Saturday, I woke up, did my laundry, loaded up my backpack, and headed out to a far-away country for a week.

I'll write more, but I have an internship interview, in said far-away country, in 3 hours. I have to go buy a shirt first. Wish me Luck !!!

ciao !