Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Firstly, I'm sorry I haven't posted for so long! I won't even bother with the excuses. However, here are the updates about what's going on in my life:

  • I'm back from N Ireland and it was gorgeous!!!! S even said that it was more beautiful than the Republic of Ireland. We had rented a car and so, we just drove along the east coast of N Ireland and even though it was grey and rainy and foggy, everything looked so amazing, I can only imagine how it would be when it's nice and sunny!
  • Secondly, since the boy who was subletting his room to me for the summer is now here, I had to shift out from my room (Notice how it's "my" room, not his :P) and into the small guest bedroom. Packing up 12 months of your life is not easy. This room is so small, there is no cupboard and there are 2 suitcases and a box occupying my floor space. So, I have nowhere to walk. I jump into the bed immediately after getting in the room. Now, someone is coming on Sunday to live in this room and so, I have to move out of this room as well. Sigh. I'm tired of living out of a suitcase already. 
  • I watched a really good production of As You Like It in a local theatre with a bunch of my house-mates. I will try and post more details and a review on the blog, just in case it ever comes to a theatre near you. :)
  • I attended the Aamir Khan interview with a bunch of friends! He's absolutely delicious! But apart from that, he was really charming and answered all the audience questions quite well. :) I wasn't disappointed at all! :) And then, we saw Peepli [Live]. It's a good and well-made film. If you haven't watched it yet, you should. 
  • Speaking of watching Bollywood films, I finally watched Raavan and O.M.G. It's AWESOME. I mean, I expected it to be good because it's Mani Ratnam. But, I was a bit put-off by negative reviews to be honest. I finally watched it and whoever thinks Ramayana is a big, black-and-white tale of good versus evil, watch this for the other side of the story. I mean, there is always a possibility of that, isn't there? I grew up listening to tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. But I seriously doubt if I'd like to tell my children the same bed-time stories. Simply because it distorts your views and opinions completely.
  • It's getting colder. It's getting darker earlier. Leaves are changing colour. It depresses me and I'm leaving at the right time. :) I can't wait to get back home! 
  • I made an Italian meal for Sara, JD and Rose (my friends from the Bollywood module) yesterday since Sara is leaving soon. And I made a perfect Risotto. So, I'm quite proud of myself. :D :P I also made a spicy martini, deadly cocktail. I was tipsy after just one glass. :P And I had 3 or 4. :P I still managed to clean up everything well so that the land-lady doesn't have a problem. Yay! But we had a lot of fun. We all talked mostly about boys and porn. Ok, too much information. But, Rose made us all talk to her partner and since we were all drunk, we made inappropriate statements and finally, he told Rose to be safe in the house full of crazy, mad women. Ha! I like it when men feel threatened by us. :P
Ok, I think that's all for now. I shall write soon, with pictures from N Ireland and of Aamir Khan! :D Until then, au revoir! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Circle of life

Yesterday, I finished exactly a year of being in the UK and in Leeds. :) And I bid good-bye to one more friend: Grace. :(

I have probably said this before but Grace is delightfully honest and frank! She never means to say anything offensive or anything. She just says the first thing that comes to her mind on seeing or hearing anything. And more often than not, it comes out as something else altogether. And then, she gets all flustered and apologetic! It's so adorable! Heh. she also has THE COOLEST sense of fashion! She likes a lot of funky stuff and vintage things. And man, she can pull off some of the weirdest looking things ever with such grace and elan! She also has a lot of passion in her. So, if she likes something, she loves it with all her heart and it's just so adorable! And she has this immense passion for Bollywood, which is why we are such close friends. :P Also, she was my go-to friend whenever I felt the need to talk in French and brush up my conversation skills! :P Being Swiss, she is very fluent in French, Italian, English and German. That's great, isn't it?!! She's awesome! And now, she is back in beautiful Swiss countryside!

But life continues. Today, I met an old friend of mine. Actually, she was a junior at college with me, just one year behind me. So, she is going to start her Masters this year at Leeds. She just arrived yesterday and had loads of question about this new "huge" city! :P I couldn't believe someone who comes from Mumbai and who had only just seen Leeds City Centre called Leeds "huge"!! :P Hahaha! I took her around the town, tried to tell her as many things as I could to help her ease herself into the uni life and life alone, without parents. We also talked to other new students around campus and met some really nice people. She is really nervous about a few things and I know only living here for a while and getting used to things is all she needs. Once she makes good friends, she will be all fine! Friends are such an important part of your life! But also, friends come and go from your life. It's the ones that stay and come back that matter. 

For that reason, I'm very grateful to Sun, Moon, S, Effy, Grace, Kyra, JD, Sara and a bunch of other people for being awesome and for being my friends. :D

In other news, I'm going to Belfast tomorrow with S. So, after Monday, there'll be more travel-logs! :P Until then, have a great weekend! :D

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guess who's back?!!! :D

Miss. I-can-do-it-oh-wait-not-really-can-you-carry-my-bag-please? That's who's back. Hmph.

Note to self: If you think the uphill road from the previous residence to the uni is just about what you can manage and if you can't carry the weekly groceries home from Morrisons without taking a bus or cursing yourself for not taking one, then hiking is not for you.

So, you get the picture of what happened on my "hiking" trip, right? I was so excited about North Wales, countryside, pretty places that I forgot that the last time I hiked was over 2 years ago. And the last time I exercised must have been about that time as well. Living in the past is not a good idea. When Igor (one of the house-mates with whom I went) asked me if I've done this before, I told him, yea! I've hiked up the Himalayas! This should be fine! I should have realised one hiking trip about 9 years ago and one about 2 years ago do not mean that I'm proficient at hiking. And fortunately or unfortunately, I don't know. But, the first 3 kilometres of our trip were a steep uphill climb. Less than 2 kms later, I told Igor that I won't be able to do it and that I should go back now when I can. But Igor and Cheng kept encouraging me and telling me not to give up. Igor took my bag from me and told me that I should come unto the top of the hill and then if I feel the same, I may go back. Except when we reached the top, both of them said, the worst is over and now, its only downhill! And anyway, it's too late to turn back. So, on we went. Most of the route later was through the fields. So, it was fine. But soon as uphill paths came or if we had been walking for more than an hour, even on pretty much straight paths, I would fizzle out like an old, damp fire-cracker. So there goes all my hiking glory! :(

Btw, did I tell you I hate it when my parents are right against my wishes. Hmph. Hmph. Hmph. :/ My dad didn't want me to go on this hiking trip because he was sure I wouldn't be able to do it. (Actually, he didn't want me to go because I was going "alone with 2 boys" he doesn't know. But I refuse to give that silly claim any importance by talking about it or justifying it. My house-mates, I trust. My judgement, he doesn't trust. His problem.) So, obviously, he doesn't get the satisfaction of knowing that I couldn't do it. :P

But anyway, it was so pretty pretty pretty!! :D British countryside is so beautiful, every time I visit some place, I want to live there for the rest of my life! :P I was only feeling guilty about inconveniencing Igor and Cheng. But they were great encouragement! After the first day, we were all so tired, even they decided to take a break the next day and just walk to some nearby town or something, which btw, was 5 miles away. So, we ended up walking 10 miles anyway. But, at least this time, the bag wan't involved. So, we were all ok. :D Then, I decided not to torture myself and them any more and took a bus to Chester a day earlier, stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast there and just explored the city for 2 days. They joined me on the last day and we all took a train back home. So, all's well that ends well! :D Only one problem: my phone got wet and refuses to work now. Oh ho.

Oooh, pictures! :D

Our start point of the hike: Prestatyn Beach. We started our hike with a rainbow - good sign! :D

View from the top of (one of) the hill(s). We could see the Irish sea from Bodfari as well, the place where we camped for the first two nights - 20 kms away from Prestatyn. How cool, no?!! :D

We just walked through all of this and more like this! It was a treat to the sore eyes. Not to mention, all that fresh air and oxygen might have almost cured my lung cancer that I have probably contracted due to the pollution in cities! :P

This is the view from atop Denbigh castle (called Dinbych in Welsh).Yes, we even saw a Welsh castle! Awesome, no?!! :D And there was a woman playing harp and singing a local legend about a skirmish between the English and the Welsh. Oh, and I bought a mood ring with a design of Celtic knot on it! Cool, no?! :D A Celtic knot represents the eternity of soul. Btw, I know mood rings only react to body temperature and have nothing to do with moods but mine is almost always dark blue, which signifies love and passion. So, I would like to believe that it does really reflect the mood. :P 

This one is clicked in Chester from a bridge of the busy Eastgate Street. Chester is a very pretty town and you all should visit whenever you are in Britain! :D

Ok, finally, as a parting shot, I give you a Rhino!!! :P Well, these funkily painted Rhinos were there all over Chester. It's Chester's answer to Liverpool's Superlambanana! :P 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coming a Full Circle - Right Back From Where We Began

Firstly, congratulate me on finishing my dissertation well, printing, binding and submitting it well before time. :D Yayness! :D Thanku, thanku!! :P

So, yesterday, when I  went to the uni to submit my thesis, I saw that it was open day for the new students coming in to study at Leeds this year. And I was immediately transported to my first day in Leeds. You know how they say that when you think you are about to die, you see your whole life flash in front of you? Well, I saw my whole year of my life in Leeds flash in front of me in that one moment - as if it's my time to die as a student of the university of Leeds. I remembered being so cold for the first few days until I acclimatised, discovering Morrisons for the first time, exploring the city on foot one sunny day, meeting my flatmates for the first time, seeing my residence for the first time, meeting people from the School of English and making friends, meeting S for the first time and bonding with her over, wait for it, Bollywood!!!!! (Yea, she was then dating a loser Indian guy and therefore, was interested in gathering all this cultural stuff! :P Of course, it's a good thing coz we bonded and became the best of the friends and then, she broke up with the Loser - yes, that's what his name is going to be on the blog! :P) So many memories. And, how young I feel I was then compared to what I am now, even though it's only been a year!

The first day that I arrived in England, I landed at 7 am, cleared through immigration after 6 hours and all the while, there was this huge, black woman screaming at everyone who went to her who terrified all of us. Besides, a Canadian group of students came in after us and cleared through within 2 hours. So, there was also the heartburn and the small voice in my head which kept saying "racism" and whom I didn't want to believe. But, as the time kept passing and we still hadn't cleared by noon (one counter handling the immigration for a planeful of about 250 students from India coming in in September, one of the busiest times for them,) I was indignant but at the same time, helpless and new to the country. Not that I can do anything about it even today if it happens to happen again but well. Then, I, the protected, spoilt, only child, apple of her father's eye princess, had to drag around 57 kgs of luggage (I, by the way, weigh 45 kgs) and find the coach station at Heathrow airport. Once I found it, after about 2 hours which seemed like 2 days, I had to endure 5 hours of a coach ride (and oh, they are not comfortable) to Leeds. I had not eaten or used the bathroom all day because I was alone and didn't know what to do with my luggage. The only thing I ate was a chocolate that Moon had given me just before I had left home. By the time I reached my room at 10 pm, I was ready to collapse and cry. But, I grew up and learnt. And once I was in Leeds, I learnt to not just live here, I learnt to love it. And I will miss it like crazy once I go back!

Kyra left for home today. And yesterday, saying good-bye to her, I realised, it's just the first one in a long string of  teary farewells! I can't imagine what it'd be like when I leave and S stays on here! I'm sure we'd both cry bucket loads when that happens!! :P But anyway, here I am. Exactly a year from where I started. I feel a bit wiser, a bit jaded but mostly, just content ad happy. Last year has been an absolutely great experience and I'm eternally grateful to a lot of people, a lot of things for that. :D

PS: I'm going for a hiking trip to North Wales with 2 of my house-mates tomorrow for 4 days! :D So, expect a lot of pictures and stories after that. Oh, by the way, please, please, please, pray that I get good weather and no rain!!! ::flutters eyelashes::

PPS: Incidently, I just realised I haven't written about any of my trips in the last year at all!!! So, I guess, once I'm done with North Wales, you'll get a bunch of posts about London, Durham, Scotland, Manchester, Yorkshire countryside, abbeys and castles, museums and moors! I hope you all like it! :D So long! :P

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches." ~ Karl Menninger

5th September is the birthday of the second President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and is celebrated as Teacher's Day in India in his commemoration. I think it's the only "Day" which is truly Indian in its essence. Hardly anyone celebrates Mother's Day or Father's Day or Brother's and Sister's Days and so on. Most of us live with our families and it just isn't a part of the culture to celebrate special days for relationships. I remember, whenever I would wish my parents a Happy Mother's or Father's day, they would chide me saying it's not necessary. They used to say that only people who forget their parents for the rest of the year, except on maybe their birthdays and on the special Mother's or Father's days, wish their parents. For the rest, everyday should be a "Family Day." I guess since they are not used to it, they see it that way. For me, it was nothing more than another excuse for a celebration.

Another "Day" widely celebrated in India, would be Friendship Day. I have celebrated it for a few years when I was in high school (Is it just me or did that statement just make me sound like I'm 50?!! ::wails::) But then, we grew out of it. I'm sure that's the case with most of the people. Once you cross 15-16 years of age, somehow, the charm of having an arm full of colourful ribbons and having names of friends scrawled over every available inch of your skin (See what I mean? :P) is lost. And of course, Valentine's Day. It may be because of what my parents have inculcated in me by saying "If you really love someone, everyday should be their day for you." or it may be the blatant commercialism and bombarding of advertisements, that makes you feel like the scum of the earth if you don't buy something for your sweetheart but Valentine's Day has always turned me off. I don't think an occasion should be necessary to show your love, especially not when the same rose that you could have bought for Rs. 5 is now being sold for Rs. 25.

Anyway, so, it was a very long winded way of saying that Teacher's Day, is really the only "Day" which, I feel, is an Indian celebration. In most schools, this day is celebrated by the teachers having a lovely time, sitting at the back of the class while the senior students on the school struggle to teach the younger students, trying to take over a day in their teachers' lives. These are fun times since the senior students get to dress up and the juniors don't have to worry about things like homework, discipline et al. 5th September, 2002 was also the first time I wore a sari, to go and teach 5th grade students English. And, that was also the experience which confirmed that teaching, indeed, is what I want to do for the rest of my life! :D And, the handmade cards that I got that day, are still lying in my cupboard, in a safe place, along with all my other birthday cards, photographs, postcards, letters and other lovely memories. I don't have many fond memories of my school. Out of the 12 years that I was at school, I've had innumerable teachers but I can count the number of teachers who actually made a difference to my life on the fingers of my hands. Make that one hand. Therefore, whatever little I can cherish, I cherish with all my heart!

On the other hand, Xavier's more than made up for everything that I lacked in my school. It gave me role models in 8 out of 10 teachers that I had. And it gave me friends in all my teachers. The Teacher's Day celebrations in Xavier's is also hatke (different :P)! :D All the teachers come together and put up an act, a dance, a quiz and other performances for us students instead of the other way round! My first Teacher's Day in Xavier's, six years ago, when I was only a month old Xavierite, gave me exactly what philosophy Xavier's follows with respect to student-teacher relations. Our Principal, Father F and the college counsellor, Father T, both started off the event, in their cassocks. After a few acts though, they came back on to stage in, wait for it, shorts and sleeveless t-shirts!!!! And, Father T had written a rap-cum-poem that they both read out. It was hilarious! Another awesome performance by our teachers was when I was in my Second year (that would be 3 years ago.) One of our Socio profs, Father A, had dressed up as a hippy, with a guitar and a wig of long dreadlocks. They had all danced on a medley of the then popular Bollywood Songs, like Sajnaji Vaari Vaari and Bhool Bhoolaiya. [Damn it, I think the cd that has the video is probably back home in India!] It was absolutely great to see our teachers struggling and making that effort for our sakes. All of them just inspire us so much! I mean, not because they dance on stage even if they can't. :P But because they are all wonderful people, real teachers. They don't just tell or feed us facts. They show us, they inspire us, they make us think. They brought us out of the stereotypical learn-because-this-will-give-you-good-grades framework of Indian education system into learn-so-that-you-can-be-good-human-beings framework of the world. Like I've said before on this blog, Xavier's is my second home and my very first runway, from where my life, my dreams and my ambitions took flight.

I must also mention that being on the other side of things feels awesome too! :P When I was teaching (and my kids were all brilliant. I get misty-eyed every time I think of them!) I would love the special love they used to shower on me on 5th September! One of my students even calls me here sometimes before her exams so that she can get my good wishes! *Awww-mush* And most of my students from French classes always made me extremely proud by getting the best grades in their classes! Sigh, I do miss being the favourite teacher! :P

And then, last but not the least, I must thank my teachers from the University here. This University and the high standards that the School of English expects from us here made me achieve a lot more than I think I'd ever have in India. Especially, my first term tutors and my dissertation supervisor are the three people I think of extremely highly. They gave me just the right amount of guidance and support so that I don't feel like I'm drowning but at the same time, I feel confident enough to be myself and present my opinions in the academic world. University of Leeds exposed me to the international standards of academia and gave me a lot of good experiences and memories.

I feel very privileged to have been a part of these two brilliant institutes and to have worked with some awesome teachers. I hope my good luck continues in my future too. :) Happy Teacher's Day to all the teachers out there.

*Pictures courtsey Google.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

30 before 30

This list thing is fun. I made one more list. :D 30 things I want to accomplish before I'm 30, not necessarily in that order though. That gives me a good 8 and a half years to do all these wildly all over the place things I want to do. (Oh, and earn enough money to be able to do them. Hmmm. :P)

  1. Publish at least one (fun) book i.e. fiction and at least 5 research papers in scholarly journals
  2. Attend a literature festival as something more than mere audience.
  3. Edit a book that is not my own.
  4. Learn a musical instrument. (hopefully one out of: tabla, violin or guitar.)
  5. Learn a dance form. Well, at least a couple levels in a dance form. (I have been wanting to learn Kathak for the longest time possible!)
  6. Finish my last level of learning French and go to France for some sort of short academic exchange or something.
  7. Learn 2 or more languages out of Sanskrit, Urdu, Arabic, Japanese and Spanish.
  8. Learn how to wear different types of saris. I only know 2 at the moment.
  9. Learn how to cook traditional cuisines from at least 3 other cultures, whether they are Indian or any other cultures in the world.
  10. Learn pottery.
  11. Learn driving and own at least one car.
  12. Learn the basics of good photography.
  13. Learn how to make bhang and have it on one holi! :P
  14. Write a script./ Direct a short film.
  15. Develop my craft. (Yea, I know it's vague. That's the point. :P)
  16. Take my stamp collection to at least 100,000 stamps.
  17. Not lose touch of hand-written letters to e-mails and not lose touch of long written, loving e-mails to skype! ;)
  18. Own at least 50,000 books of my own. (Yes, I sort-of have always wanted to have a mini-library of my own. :P)
  19. Buy a diamond ring each for my parents.
  20. Make the perfectly embroidered sari for my mum.
  21. Knit the perfect sweater. (could be for anyone! :P)
  22. Go on a bike trip with my dad. (I know he won't take me to Ladakh like he went for his awesome bike trip and I so want to. But well, any place else, where hopefully, it won't be as cold as it is in Ladakh, is fine with me.)
  23. Visit New Zealand.
  24. Visit the Harappan civilisation ruins and the Swat Valley in Pakistan.
  25. Go sky-diving/ bungee-jumping.
  26. Earn enough to be able to fly wherever Sun and Moon are on their 30th birthdays.
  27. Teach at Xavier's. Even if it is only as a visiting faculty or filling in for someone.
  28. Muster up enough courage to experiment with my hair at least once.
  29. Become the favourite aunt. (Of course, Moon and S will have to help me here and have babies first so that I can spoil them! :P But well, they have 8 years, I know they'll do it! :P)
  30. Lastly, fall in love with someone who is not a commitment phoebe, alcoholic, workaholic, nicotine/ sex/ substance addict, megalomaniac, religion/ cricket/ soccer fanatic, couch potato, sadomasochist, misogynist, MCP and generally anyone who falls in the super-undesirable category. Maybe get married to him. And NOT have children. (Don't laugh. It takes more work to NOT have children than it takes to have them. Apart, all the pressure and explanations you'll have to deal with every time you visit family would be insane. You'd even be willing to go through labour and 9 months plus 18 years of shit just to avoid that third degree!)
OK, now that I have a list, I need a plan that will help me cross things off list. Some are easily achievable. Some, I think can only be achieved if I rob a bank. But well, we'll see. :P For now, I think, getting back to my dissertation might be a good idea. ;)

Edited to add: S looked at this list and asked me (a very valid) question: What will you do when life happens and you don't have time to do all these things? Well, I realise some of these things are not exactly easy to achieve. But even if I finish 25 out of these, I think I'll be happy. All I can to do is try my level best and scratch things off the list. :)