Summer is over and that, basically, means that I have just kicked off the next round of business trips from now till year end. And, indeed, I just did that, as I came back yesterday from my first one of those, this time around to Brussels, Belgium, where I had a wonderful time participating in a customer workshop talking about The Social Enterprise and its own wider adoption of social software. Fascinating and rather enlightening discussions, on both ends, over the course of 4 hours, no doubt!, but more on that later… For now, this is going to be just that unusual blog entry where I will be talking about something else, completely different, from the regular topics I cover over here. And all of that because of something that happened yesterday, on my way back home, that I guess is going to be difficult to forget any time soon.
I have been doing business travelling over the last 15 years and, as most of you folks out there know already, some years more often than in others, but in most cases rather regular scheduled trips all along. Well, for the first time in those 15 years of being a road (Errr, I mean, air) warrior, yesterday I had the longest layover I have ever experienced at any airport. I was stuck in Madrid (In T2) for 9 hours non-stop. Yes, you are reading it correctly. 9 hours.
Now, I can imagine you may be wondering why didn’t I hit the road, grab a taxi and head downtown to enjoy what promised to be a rather gorgeous autumn day, right? Initially, I thought about doing just that, but then again, coincidences in this world teach you that some times whatever you may have planned doesn’t always work out the way it is supposed to. Like this time. Just as I was on my way to Brussels on Thursday last week I found out that one of my former team colleagues, and rather good friend, who enjoys, just as much as I do!, a lovely glass of red wine over a delightful conversation, was also arriving, around the same time as me, at the same terminal, at the same airport where I was. What are the chances of that? She was flying from Milán, and I was coming from Brussels, so we decided to get together, catch up with each other properly face to face for a good couple of hours, enjoy the one or two glasses of red wine and just let part of the afternoon go by enjoying catching up after not having seen each other for a good while.
And we just did that! We went to one of the bars at the T2 terminal, grabbed something quick to eat, and, of course, got ourselves a good supply of wine. That part of the afternoon was just absolutely brilliant! Believe me, don’t ever let people tell you that social interactions through the Web are just as effective, engaging and nurturing as those face to face, in real life. No way! There is no substitute at all for them! So whenever you have a chance to reach out and cultivate them, by all means, go ahead and do it! We had a wonderful time catching up with each other on what we have been doing the last couple of years and it was rather refreshing to see how that pure chance got us together in the first place while in Madrid’s airport. From there onwards, I shared with her a few tips on what to do in Madrid for the remaining time that she is going to be there, and we both departed to our usual schedules for the day. Hers to hit town and enjoy the lovely weekend before work kicks in next Monday. Mine, wait for a little bit longer and make my flight home after a few days away. And that’s where things went awry.
What was supposed to be just one more hour before departing, it turned around into becoming a 5 hour delay before our plane finally took off! Goodness! I guess technical faults in an airplane about to take off can cause that kind of trouble. Anyway, if you are a frequent traveller you know how things go from there. First they tell you 30 minute delay, then 60 minutes, then we move into two hours, and, finally, on the 4th hour waiting there, things are now ready to head back home! That’s the kind of suspense I am not very keen on experiencing and living through on a Saturday afternoon, don’t you think?
Anyway, a long time ago, after a continuous and rather frustrating experience, as a business traveller, of delayed flights, missing them altogether for whatever the reason or just about whatever other complication, one gets to learn that no matter how angry or upset you get about things, never mind picking up useless arguments with people, the delay is still going to be there, or if the flight is cancelled, there is nothing you can do at all either. So I tried to make the most out of my afternoon at Madrid airport and I think I reached the conclusion I need to pick up another one of my hobbies from all along that, lately, I had it almost abandoned: Read fiction. And a lot of it! Specially, when you are stuck at the airport with a bunch of hours before your next flight takes off.
I love reading. I have always enjoyed it quite a bit, even when I was a whole lot younger and perhaps my mind should have busier with something else. However, as of late, perhaps in the last few years, I have neglected reading fiction for far too long, focusing, almost exclusively, around business reading, specially, around the top of the Social Web and the Social Enterprise. My iPad Kindle is ful with books around these business topics, and while I was listening to Spotify on my iPhone (Something for which I am very very grateful, since it made for a wonderful afternoon listening to some of my favourite #elsuastunes), I realised I didn’t have enough fiction materials. And, funny enough, while I was pondering about that and sharing the odd tweet here and there (Guess that’s what happens when you get stuck and bored at the same time!), a good friend of mine, Rogelio Pérez-Bustamante, gave me a quick phone call where we talked for a little bit.
I tell you, things don’t happen just like that, without any purpose. There is always one. You just have got to go, figure out and find it! And seize the opportunity. For this time around, Rogelio actually told me that a rather good friend of his, Ernesto Uría, was just about to present live, this coming week, at 19:00pm CEDT on Tuesday, at the Ámbito Cultural of El Corte Inglés, a new book of delightful short stories under the suggestive title “Ficciones y Aflicciones” (“Fictions and Woes”). The book is in Spanish, and I have yet to find a copy of it for my iPad Kindle or buy it at the recently launched over here, in Spain, Amazon. But right there, while I was talking to him and he was sharing with me plenty of his notes about the short book, and how much he enjoyed it, I just realised I needed to read more fiction. It would have made for a fantastic and delightful afternoon, right there, if I did have a copy of Ernesto’s book and read through it. Somehow it just hit me.
You know, with all of the stuff that’s happening out there, in our now more complex than ever world, a world in where we all know, and are starting to realise, that things would never be the same anymore, it still pays off to have some brilliant fiction reading sitting right next to you, whispering in your ear, enticing you to leave everything behind, “pick up” the book, and start reading, letting your mind do the rest. Yes, indeed, I do need to read more fiction, I do need to find a way to evade myself from being stuck at the airport for so long and don’t feel much into business reading, really (Hey, it was the weekend, remember?!).
But it gets better, because while I had been pondering and musing further on about it all, and perhaps re-start that fiction reading with a splash and get a copy of Ernesto’s book, Rogelio shared with me the speech he himself is going to deliver on Tuesday’s public presentation of “Ficciones y Aflicciones” (“Fictions and Woes”). And goodness! Right there, it blew my mind away! What a surprising, refreshing and staggeringly good read! It’s just 8 pages long, but I can tell you they will certainly trigger that inner urge to want to know more. To get busy and start reading Ernesto’s book right away! Yes, I know, I know, you would probably be expecting by now to have a disclaimer or something, right? Well, here it is. Rogelio is a good friend who is now just starting to dive into this whole world of the Social Web and social networks; we have been having a bunch of conversations on why social networking is taking everything by storm, and how it is changing us all as a society altogether, and I can tell you his opinions about this financial crisis, as well as what he thinks of Europe, would probably make for one of the most fascinating reads out there on the Spanish blogosphere… Not to worry, I’m working on that! I mean, helping him out get his own blog going 😉
The truth is that I hardly know Ernesto (Here is a short, but rather good interview with him, in Spanish, if you would want to read more about him and his work), but you know how it goes, the friends of my good friends are also my friends, so pick perhaps this unusual blog entry with a pinch of salt or two, or, better, go and get a copy of the book and then let me know whether you like it or not. From what I have been talking to Rogelio about it, he just confirmed it would be one that I would enjoy to dive, back again, into the world of reading fiction. And after reading his opening speech, I would probably have to agree with him on it… Ohhh, and he’s been rather generous to allow me to publish it over here, before the book’s public launch on Tuesday. So go and grab a copy of it, in Spanish, at this link and start reading. You will enjoy it!
See? This is probably what happens when you have far too much idle time in your hands, and brain!, on a Saturday afternoon, while being stuck at an airport for a few hours, wanting to find a way to successfully escape, for a while, from everything that’s happened around you. And somehow, yesterday’s experience has confirmed as well that perhaps every odd weekend I may post another entry on something rather unusual, not very much related to the topics I usually cover over here in my blog. They may make up for some interesting and serendipitous new findings and somehow I am starting to feel I may be enjoying it quite a bit! Hopefully, you, too, folks!
(I will let you know, by the way, what I thought about the book itself myself, once I get my hands on a hard copy, but guess what’s going to be the first thing I’m going to be suggesting Ernesto pretty soon… Indeed, where is the eBook for me iPad Kindle? :-D)