No one tells you there is a winter in Lisbon. The websites lie to you, the guidebooks hide facts. But then, I should have known that there is winter everywhere. Cold winds and piddling rain greeted me in sunny Lisbon, but grey skies and rain were the least of my worries; I had to worry about highly intelligent bearded men who would be judging every word I said and every gesture I made. I was on an all-expenses-paid trip for a job interview in the decadent party town of Lisbon.
This trip, after many years of being tied to the bench (I am a scientist – we don’t have desks; we have benches, much like football players, but less glamourous) would have been the clarion call to cut loose. But, this was an interview that could take me to a better-paid bench, so better to be sober.
In the few days in Lisbon, I had three voices in my head: one asking for the second bottle of wine, the second calling me to bed at ten p.m., and the third voice trying hard to mediate between the previous two. In the end, I spent more time with the third voice, wandering the cobblestoned streets feeling nervous, excited, guilty, relaxed, and stressed, all in a quick, jumbled succession. As it turned out, none of my interviewers were bearded. After a few hours of relentless dissection of my abilities and inadequacies, the inquisition ended at dusk. Wine flowed, conversation became friendlier. After a few bottles, it felt like we were amiable colleagues relaxing after a long day of work. Not such a bad day, I thought.
P.S. – I am still waiting to hear if I got the job.
Leslee Lazar lives in the outskirts of New Delhi and is currently doing his PhD in Neuroscience. He has been taking photographs since he was 15 with his dad’s old 35mm Yashica. Although seduced by the digital revolution, he still loves taking photos with old film cameras.