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Living on a backpack

Diaries, thoughts, memoirs.

The last night

One day left to the end of my trip in Greece, the girls from New York decided to hit the night club, and give a chance to the Athenian’s night life. I have usually tried to stay away from such events when I travel. It is simply not the best way of spending my time and money in a short time. I can experience the same thing here in the US, and I am sure every where else tries to copy the American night club style. Anyways, I initially rejected the invitation, but eventually their persistence paid off and I thought, well, hell with that. Let’s do it. We took the Athen’s subway, which is a great experience, and after a bunch of stops we arrived at a neighborhood called Gazi. Well, It was interesting to see a conglomerate of night clubs of all verities and sizes in one location. I mean that in a bunch of streets and main square, you could find all sorts of bars and night clubs. We started by a big one that had open spaces as well. The girls went after finding a guy and I went to see if I can open a dialogue with some Athenian girls, but I found the language to be a pretty tall barrier. However, the smoking habit of Greek people started to kick in soon. These people, young and old, men and women some non stop, inside and out. My lungs started to hurt, but we kept going. One club after another one. We spent a good 3 hours there, but soon both the ladies and I figured out that as far as night club is considered, we would be better off back in the US. We called the night goodbye and headed back to the hostel. At least we had a great night view of Acropolis. This would be the last time I would see it and who knows if there would be a tomorrow! 

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This is a distraction, but I would hate myself not to share it. The song is called “Freedom” and it means a lot to me. 

(Source: vimeo.com)

Cooking in Athens

I make friends quick, and I mean quick. For some unknown reasons I have a decent ability to size up people around me, and by some probability and statistical rules, I can be quite accurate in my assessment of people. This skill of sizing up people has helped me a lot in life. When you think about it, life is basically a long journey (unfortunately for some, it can be short ), and in a journey you need travel mates. There are those who accompany you from one town to the next, there are the ones who you will have a beer with, the ones who hit the dance floor with you, the ones who will help you find the next address, the next stop, and the ones who stand by you through out the whole journey, through the mountains, rough seas, turbulent skies, through the good and bad times, those ones are rare for good reasons. They should be rare; rare things are worthy!

While in Athens, I met a German guy, a Brazilian and an Irish guy. Their names are Sebastian, Andy and Mark. One day, Sebastian suggested that we should cook! I loved the idea, why not? So, Sebastian, Mark and I walked down the street to a local butcher shop to buy some good meat to make steak. 

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We bought a great Greek wine and some vegetable. Then we hit the kitchen and I started cooking. It was one of the best meals that I have ever had. image

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Sebastian, Andy, Mark and I are still friends. 

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Delphi

The two New Yorker girls who moved in a couple of days earlier had a plan to go to Delphi and they asked me to join them in case that I can. The plan was to be in the bus station by 6 AM to be able to get to Delphi, which is about 3 hours drive from Athens early in the morning and be able to be back early in the afternoon. I gladly accepted the offer as they worked out all the logistics and I had to do nothing about it. 

We were on the streets of Athens by 5 AM to find the right bus to take us to the terminal. After a couple of trial and errors we found the right bus. These days you can easily find instructions on how to arrange your trip to places such as Delphi by just simple Google search. Fifteen minutes of bus ride and we were in the terminal. By 6 AM we were on our way to Delphi. As the bus made its way through the highway and out of Athens, very soon the signs of sheer poverty started to show up. The financial collapse of 2008 has been exceptionally severe on Greece and the location of this country has made it a gateway and target for illegal immigrants and those who are looking for asylum. Unfortunately, many Greeks and poor immigrants find themselves in the poor suburbs of Greece. It is hard to imagine that this level poverty is in Europe, but this is what it is. 

The day trip to Delphi takes place in the valley of Phocis close to Athens. The road is mountainous and you wonder why the ancient Greeks chose such a place considering that Delphi was practically a city of temples and it was like a religious center. 

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The site of Delphi is not easy to explore. There is a mountain to climb to be able to reach out to the main site. Overall, it is a great day trip and it is a must see if you are anywhere close to Athens. 

Reading about the story of the place and whatever that had happened there, took me deep in my imagination, thinking about religion and civilization. Considering that some 2500 or even 3000 years ago, millions of people worshipped god here and today there is nothing left except ruins. What would happen to today’s religions 2000 years from now? 

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Vangelis

Perhaps the most known Greek composer is Vangelis. You have heard of his works believe it or not. His debut was with the Blade Runner that made him a Hollywood sensation. But even before that, one year earlier in 1981, he composed the music for Chariots of fire, which is one of my most favorite movies of all time. 

Well, right below the hills of Acropolis is Vangeli’s house and studio. Perhaps the gods influence his work, who knows. 

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Back to writing

The last time that I wrote something on this blog was 11 months ago, and back then I said it is time to write again. I just deleted that post. I was so ashamed of myself. Lack of commitment could not more visible than this. 

The story is long, but I should mention it here. In some form or fashion it actually belongs to the theme of this blog. 

On October 2011, I decided to quit my day job to spend 100% of my time on a start up that I had started about 6 months earlier. It was a scary move, but I had enough confidence that the worst case scenario is that the start up will fail, but I will acquire enough skills that I can start another company or shift my line of work to something that enjoy more, something that would give me more flexibility and mentally more stimulating, which for me was software engineering. It was not hard for me to make the switch, I have had a computer since I was 3 years old, and with an academic degree in electrical engineering, I could change engineering fields easily and always make top dollar. 

By December 2011, I hired a top developer from Google who joined me as the co-founder and by February 2012, I employed another senior developer from Oracle. It was quite thrilling to be able to convince people to join your madness, it is quite something, one of those experiences that happens only to some people in their life.

Well, I incorporated the company and we developed the technology that I had in mind, but the start up did not take off. the business part was very costly and the market that I chose to enter was very expensive. The bars were too high for me to make the leap. By September 2012, I decided to join another start up to recollect my thoughts for my next move and also sharpen my skills for serious software development. But, since the start up is a very intoxicating experience, I decided to give another try. I contacted my friends at MIT, and the best possible person decided to work with me on the second start up. It was a match made in heaven. I brought in one of my engineers from the first start up and he brought in one of his friends from Facebook. Once again, I provided an idea and the new team accepted the idea. We started working on it from February 2013. We have been doing great since and I am very optimist that this time we will make it happen. Meanwhile, I had to get a day job to make top dollar again, so I accepted a position at a very nice company as the enterprise software developer. Well, I can at least everything that I planned for in the past two years did indeed happen more or less, but it came at the cost of losing a couple of friends and of course not being able to devote enough time to write or even travel. Once I had a roommate who made it big at a start up that he had in his 20s. He told me that when you do this start up thing for real, you might divorce your wife, drop your girlfriend, get rid of your pet, sell your home, and pack everything in your car and hit the road to make it happen. I thought this guy is a nut, but my own experience was not that off from this, except that I have not been married, thank you lord !!

Anyways, a few nights ago, I thought it is time for real to get back to writing and getting back to traveling for a while. So, here I start writing again, resuming my writing from where I left off and writing down whatever is left in my memories. 

Greece on the top of Acropolis

Greece on the top of Acropolis

Acropolis

The sight of this ancient building by itself is one of the most majestic views in the world. For me, it had always been a dream to be there and see it by my own eyes. I spent a good two days exploring Acropolis, Greek and Roman Agoras, and the city of Athens. 

I found Athen to be one of the liveliest cities ever. However, from the presence of the riot police in the street, and sporadic protests by the unions in response to austerity measures imposed by the Greek government, anyone could feel that something is not right. One year later, we all have heard how things have turned around for the Greek people. But, for people who have been around for thousands of years and have gone through many more challenges, they will leave this one behind too. There will be some casualties, but Greece will be always Greece. 

The first day, I climbed to Acropolis through the park that is beneath the sight. You can buy a ticket, which I think was ¢12.00 and you can go to 6 different sights including the Agoras and a couple of other places. The entire sight is an archeological wonder that has been under restoration for decades and as a matter of face most of it was opened to public after decades just last year that I was there. 

Learning about the history of this place is quite a sad experience. Learning that how it was destroyed and the ignorant and bigot people in the early christian time destroyed many of the statues and defaced many others just leaves a hole in your heart. One comes to realize that this is the very foundation of western civilization, the very foundation of our societies today, the way we think, philosophy , art, architecture and so on. These are no light matters. 

I spent a good hour on the sight. This is the highest point in the city, which offers a great view of the city of Athens too. A lot of things have changes since the ancient time, but I could imagine that many of those Greeks including kings, warriors, and many more stood by at the same spot and looked in to the same direction and never thought someone else will do the same thing 2500 years later. 

And it continues

I love to write, but then I love to do it when I am relaxed and my brain functions in the right frequency. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. Again, it has been a while since my last post. All I can share with you is that I left my day job to fully dedicate my time to a startup that I have been working on for the past 6 months. It is still not complete, but the vision is there and I have brought in another technical person to join me to finish this project as soon as possible. I have no funding yet, but it is not that important anyways.  In the meantime, I teach mathematics and do other side projects to have a side income , but thanks to my minimalism life style I have saved enough money to live for a good year without breaking down! 

I have been guessing about my next trip overseas, may be somewhere in Europe or South America or may be nothing at all. May be I just stay in and work harder on my startup, perhaps that is what is going to happen. 

The city of Athens looking toward North. 

The city of Athens looking toward North.