Grey, Dark and Depressing or Cozy, Snug and Festive?

It’s been two months in London now which means two months away from the ever shining Indian sun, my Wagon R and my family. Yes, that’s the order in which I miss these things/people. (@The Sen Household – Sorry!) I cannot stress just how much I miss sunshine! I swear every time I look at myself in the mirror I can see my face becoming one shade paler. Before I came here I was told that the London weather is very grey, cold and dull but actually experiencing it now makes me want to go back home. While at home I’d wonder how many layers of clothing I could take off and still be deemed appropriately dressed, here I’m like how many layers of clothing can I fit on my body. And it’s so much work to put on all these layers and go somewhere that I’d rather just stay home. I can’t imagine what Londoners mean when they say it’s going to get worse. This is already the worst for me.

In these two months I’ve tried to keep myself updated on developments in India and social media has been the best and most hilarious medium for that. And I feel like quite a lot of interesting things happened, the demonetization thing for instance. It was a class act. I have to say, being out of India during this time and looking at it as just a spectator, this situation couldn’t be more amusing. I don’t fully understand what the impact is at ground level and really can’t comment on its implication on the future of the parallel economy. And I’m sure this is the level of understanding of most people who shared their expert comments on Facebook. The timing of this was outstanding though- just a few hours before the US elections. I remember having read a bit about it in the evening (GMT), going to sleep, waking up early to catch the US election results and to see Trump win. My Facebook Newsfeed went crazy that morning! I have never seen SO MANY posts and comments being generated at that speed. On one hand Indians were going crazy over the demonetization event and on the other hand the Americans were going crazy over Trump’s victory. My primary emotion for those 24 hours was sheer confusion (or maybe disbelief, IDK.) In my mind I was like “what just happened?” On top of that, NH7 Weekender! Was the entire Hyderabad city there?! Why do these things happen only when I’m not there! So anyway, now which is the next country that’s going to fuck up? France? Germany? 2016 – oh boy.

But the weather and political circus notwithstanding, Christmas season is here and so is assignment season! The education system I’ve experienced in India is very different from here. My grading is based on essays, which is something I had never written before in my life. In my undergrad we had one or maybe two text books for a semester. Even those we wouldn’t read front to back. But here, I’m having to read entire books within a few hours. This is something I was struggling with in the beginning. Turns out I’m a very slow reader. I would read every word in every sentence and that too read it out loud which was just not working. In fact, for my first essay submission, I couldn’t finish all the readings. It was pure luck that the case study was about communal riots in India so I basically wrote the majority of my essay based on my knowledge of India. Similar case with my favorite module. My Critical Geographies of Terrorism class (my favorite) is more like a philosophy class. I walk out of that class with questions about life! If you ask me about counter-terrorism measures, I will give you a very existential answer which is kind of useless. And then when I sit to write my essays for this, I realize I can’t write “people need to be true to themselves.” Trust me, I start writing my essay with the hope to just pass, like just scrape through enough to get my degree. Overall I feel like I came here horrendously under prepared for this kind of a system.

Speaking of submissions, the weeks when I have submissions, and I seem to have two papers a week, I become a different person. I barely eat and sleep, and my room looks like a disaster hit it (pun intended.) For someone who couldn’t stay awake past 11 PM no matter what, I’m amazed at how I’m able to stay up all night working. Just last Wednesday-Thursday night, I was up working until 4 AM. And then I was up at 7:30 AM for class. This is one of many such days and nights. But it’s in these weeks that I offer gratitude for the people I have around me. Sarah makes cups of coffee to keep me going, Yong Yong makes me dinner so I have at least one filling meal a day, Asha sends me messages to check on me, Felicia lets me take her fruits because my kitchen cabinets are empty, Verdell offers me apple flavored whiskey, the foosball group plays with me and helps me de-stress, and others simply offer me comforting hugs. I am super thankful for this support system ♥ Now if only someone could clean and tidy my room! JK.

Since my last blog post about my move to London, I’ve had some fantastic cultural experiences. It’s a different feeling to see people come together in a foreign land and do their best within their limited resources to celebrate their culture. Even though Diwali is not my bengali community’s biggest festival, I do like the atmosphere of Diwali (the cultural atmosphere; not the actual atmosphere. Yeah what’s up with that Delhi? How’d you fuck up… yet again?!) So I was looking forward to it when an Indian resident in my building was having a little Diwali party. It was nice to meet a bunch of desi people, make new friends and dress ethnic. I also got to celebrate the American festival, Thanksgiving. It was my first Thanksgiving and it was amazing to have so much love on the table. Now we’re looking forward to Christmas, which also means my birthday! Fun fact: Apparently, 25th December is not the universal Christmas Day. So I can’t tell people anymore that my birthday is on Christmas. In fact, December isn’t even the month Jesus was born in! My whole life has been a lie. Since this is going to be my first birthday away from my family and best friends I’m not particularly looking forward to it. But I’m sure my friends here will come up with something fun. (Please get the hint!)

Finally, once again I will close with the most frequently questioned topic. My aunts back home regularly asking me if there was a boy in my life is one thing; my peers doing the same thing though is another thing altogether. It’s impossible to even mention a guy or be seen talking to one and not have my friends (here and at home) go, oh tell us more! CALM DOWN! But I admit that sometimes it’s fun too because then the wine is brought out and everyone’s inner Agony Aunt surfaces. My aunts are no less. The last time I had a video chat with them, they very shamelessly told me which nationalities are okay to flirt with and which ones I should stay away from. This is exactly why I say I will run away and get married.

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