Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dear Stephanie: A Letter from Spain 4 Years Later

Dear Stephanie,

My tribute to you is a month late this year; 4 years and one month ago you left us. FOUR years; can you believe it? Yet the 4th of  March will always be a sad and painful day for me. The phone call that shattered our friendship by a brutal force, the days of shock, the realization that despite your endless optimism and the way in which you treated Muscular Dystrophy as something normal, how brutal and violent and unforgiving the disease really is.

Meghan, Stephanie and Sapna, 2011

I wish you were here in person, Stephanie; there is so much new in my life and not all of it belongs in the realm of the internet.  I got a scholarship!!! A real, full, scholarship to stay in Barcelona for the next three years. Can you believe that? I mean, my grades at the University of Alberta were honours, but not perfect, McGill was perfect, but Oxford? That was borderline---and somehow they still picked me. It's like a miracle, because with working so many hours I was becoming so drained that my career change seemed like an endless feat. Now, I will be paid a bit of money each month - enough to survive on, barely - won't have to pay the small registration fee each year, and will have a few grand to do two research stays in 2016-2017. Oh, and I can speak Spanish now :)

I will be a university professor some day, Stephanie, and realize my dream. I just wish you could have been here to realize yours, too.
Celebrating an APIF Scholarship for my Phd in Applied Linguistics!!!!

Remember my grandmother, Jhaiji, who passed away last year? Here tribute post is here.Well, the hospital that killed her was finally convicted of gross negligence. They took such a simple drug, read the charts inaccurately SEVERAL times, and completely destroyed her treatment for a simple hip problem, leading to a massive stroke that ended her life. While they weren't convicted of criminal intent, at least Darrent Valley  Hospital publicly apologized and have been denounced by the media in the local British news. That's something, I guess.  Check out news article about her, here
If I were religious and believed in a heaven, then I would hope that you two meet one day.

I miss you every single day, Steph. Every time I go home to Edmonton every couple years, I stop at Bogani's cafe because it reminds me of you and our Friday night coffee dates. We were always cursing the new owners every couple years who kept closing the  cafe earlier and earlier until we had to get coffee before 9:00 on Fridays. That wouldn't happen here in Spain, Steph  - people eat dinner at 9 or 10pm! Every time I see a wheelchair ramp, or a badly constructed building without one, I remember you. Every morning I put on my heart shaped memory necklace - and despite the fact that the paper picture inside is ruined, the clasp is worn, and I can barely tell there was a stone in it once, I remember you.

Remembering is easy, Stephanie. Missing you, is not.

You were right, by the way. Sometimes, when you least expect it, everything in your life just kind of works out in an amazing way. Who thought that would happen for me here in Spain, of all places?

Love you tons, Steph.

XX Sapna

If you'd like to see my other annual tributes to Steph, they are here: 2011201220132014

Stay tuned for my next two posts which should up soon --- my trip to Pyrenees and a post on Spanish/Catalonian Easter traditions.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Montserrat: A Beautiful Day trip to the Mountains

Since I didn't have to work (for once!) yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the special pricing through my Spanish school and go on a bus tour to Montserrat, to check out the nearby mountains. We took the funicular up the mountain to see it in the limited time we had.The tour itself was quite disappointing - like any guided tour, it was a whirlwind through all the key points, without really seeing anything in detail!  However, it has given me a great idea for a place to go back to.  

Although the tour was "guided" by a University of Barcelona history professor, he only gave us a tiny bit of information at the beginning. The bus was full of ERASMUS exchange students, so maybe they wouldn't have been as interested? I don't know---it seems to me that they could have told us a lot more!!! In fact, when we got to the mountain, they took a group picture of us, and then let us be for 2 hours and then had a "guided" tour of the monastery, which mostly consisted of us rushing through museums with a guide that was stressed about getting two buses of noisy students to the same place at the same time...

Here are a few interesting facts:

  • There is a large Arab influence in the area, due to the 711 AD invasion of the Arabs
  • Molins de Rei is the industrial area near Barcelona where the textile industry in Spain started
  • Spain was conquered by the Romans for 8 centuries
  • In 880, a black statue of the Virgin Mary was discovered; it had been hidden from the Arabs. The monastery in Montserrat houses, and is dedicated to, this statue
  • Apparently, it is common in Europe to have parades for various saints. We managed to catch the tail end of a procession going into a church (for a dressed-up model of a saint we had seen earlier in the day)
  • The Baroque church/monastery is famous for its lamps -  Tiffany & Co visited Montserrat for inspiration on how to design their lamps!
Check out the slideshow below for the breathtaking scenery ---I love mountains! I met a girl from Italy named Ilaria on the trip and we spent the day together. I will definitely have to come back with my hiking shoes and a friend and make a day of it!

Stay tuned for more posts that are in progress - my annual memory post to my lovely Stephanie (I miss you so much!), and some ramblings on the magical medieval festival I attended last Sunday.