Skype has been part of my life ever since I moved to New York City eight years ago. What began as a way to stay in touch with friends and family back home in Romania, evolved in a weekly and often times a daily ritual to stay connected with people around the world, whether home in NYC or on the road. I have shared some of my most treasured experiences via Skype video with my loved ones, as have they. I have shared my travels in real time, and have constantly connected with fellow travel peers when working on travel assignments. With the help of Skype, I have shared priceless travel moments, or better yet Skype Moments.
Back in December, I was challenged to use Skype (and only Skype) for one day. Here’s what happened …
It was 8:30 AM and I had a busy day planned ahead of me. As I frantically applied that last brush of powder and checked the symmetry of my eyeliner, I made sure I had everything I needed with me.
Smartphone, check. Tablet, check. Laptop, check. I had to get to Ange Noir Café for a 9AM call, which I didn’t want to be late for.
As I buttoned my shirt, preparing to go out the door, I hear an incoming call on my laptop. It’s my boyfriend, video – calling via Skype from Europe.
“Hi Bear, it’s nice to see you. How’s France treating you? Sorry, I can’t stay long, I have a pretty packed day ahead of me.”
CastleBraid sure looks lovely on a sunny day, I think to myself as I exit the elevator. As I instinctively reach for my iPhone to play some music, I see Mickela calling through Skype.
“Are you free to meet this afternoon around 3PM?” she asks.
“Sure, that works.”
Little did I know I would be running like a maniac the entire day.
As I swiftly arrive to the café, I order my usual latte and salmon bagel, and I sit down to prepare for my call.
While I’m slowly sipping from my hot coffee, Wije video-calls in. We talk about my plans to visit Sri Lanka in the upcoming weeks, as he mentions the destinations I should not miss while there. A proud Sri Lankan, he has arranged for me later today to meet the esteemed Mr. Waruna Sri Dhanapala, Minister Counselor to the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations.
Unbelievably so, my parents – to whom I always speak with via Skype – have taken my fascination for this island nation, and hence my advice, and have spontaneously booked a trip to Sri Lanka. In fact, today marked their first day there.
As I check the time, I see they have just logged in. It was 9:30AM in New York but 8PM in Sri Lanka.
“Hi mom. Hi dad! Wow, I can’t believe you’re in Sri Lanka now!”
As they share their first impressions and show me around their hotel surroundings in Kalutara, I cannot help but snap a picture of them with my iPad.
As hard as it often is to travel and be away from family, months at a time, these moments are what make it worth it; these moments of exploration, of discovering more of the world and yourself, and sharing it with those closest to you. It was right then, and there, in that Bushwick café, that I realized who inspired me to travel in the first place and why my trip to Sri Lanka was too going to be another transformative experience.
After I leave the café, I head on quickly to the subway and on the Spark Labs for some catching up with emails and more calls.
I say hello to the usual suspects – my fellow co-working space buddies – and get to work. It wasn’t long after that Alex video calls in from England. A former Californian that now calls London town home, she has become an inspiration, a mentor and a great friend. We catch up on projects we used to work for together at Gogobot, as well as our future travels and work assignments.
She sure looks happy, I think to myself. Moving to other countries can do that to you.
It’s now close to 2PM and I am rushing to arrive in time at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN. Feeling a little nervous and a whole lot excited.
With no big fuss or unnecessary formality, I am taken upstairs and introduced to the revered Minister Council, which takes me around the Mission hallways and its private rooms in a custom tour that touches upon Sri Lanka’s main tourism attractions.
“Sri Lanka is the land of a thousand smiles,” the Minister Council says to me as he bows down in a traditional Sri Lankan greeting.
As he honors me with his precious time and a wealth of information, I cannot help but feel grateful: grateful to be in this moment, and to be planning my next adventure.
Once our meeting comes to and end, I am courteously invited to the biggest rooms of all – seemingly an event hall – where a cup of tea is waiting for me at the end of a massive wooden table.
Outside, the sun is shining brighter than ever. I am rushing yet again. I have to get to Fort Greene, in Brooklyn, all the way from midtown.
Mickela already knows I’ll be late; we all constantly rushing in this industry. I IM to say that I’m on my way.
As I go past the spectacular brownstones and the quirky cafes, I realize how much Brooklyn has changed. A neighborhood now thriving with beautiful architecture, an abundance of arts & culture and an inexhaustible variety of things to do, is proof of how dynamic and ever-changing New York City is.
I finally reach the café and see Mickela – a fellow travel blogger and friend – sitting by the window.
We briefly catch up with the latest, but she seems eager to get to the point.
“Listen, I want you to talk to someone. Quebec Tourism wants you to cover the Montreal en Lumiere Festival this February.”
“Wow, that’s great news. Would love to.”
It turns out Mickela had the iPad ready to call Vincent over in Montreal via Skype. We briefly introduce ourselves, after which he dives right into the topic. At its 15th year anniversary, the festival is gearing up to be a 10-day extravaganza of arts & culture, amazing shows & concerts and some of the best fine dining in the world. It perfectly fit my interests and couldn’t wait to go back to Montreal during this incredible period.
“I would be honored to cover the festival. Thank you for having me on board,” I say to both of them.
“Welcome to Montreal!” Vincent replies.
And here I am at the end of another day. Feeling exhausted but entirely thankful. I look over my Skype calls and messages and I realize it was a productive day.
As I order a soothing ginger tea, and accidentally almost drop the whole label in the steaming hot water, I am surprised to see a message:
“Life is a chance. Love is infinity. Grace is reality.”
And thanks to Skype, sharing one’s experiences is nothing short than a gratifying reality.
You too can be an All-Skype all-star by uploading your video, sharing it, and tagging it #SkypeStar at SkypeMoments.com.