What is it with me and movies these days? It’s becoming fatal, I’m drawn to sitting in my PJs with dinner and choosing something that I know is going to end in tears. Today was Notting Hill which in my opinion isn’t even that great a movie. So why then was I sitting there sniffing and sobbing!? Husband, I think you better move a Londres, ahora! I wake up with puffy eyes every day and today I had to wear makeup to work to hide the traces of my laughable misery. Now excuse me while I go eat chocolate. Bwwwaaah.
One of the reasons I think London is so awesome is its free art and free museums. Sure you have to pay for exhibitions but there is just so much great stuff out there for free. Look at the National Gallery for instance. You have some brilliant works there and it costs nothing to go see them. And that’s what I did this afternoon. It’s a great feeling to know you can come back several times and can concentrate on just a few rooms per visit. Today I did rooms 43 and 46 – the Impressionists in the first, and Degas in the second. (I also browsed around in room 32 for a bit just taking in the colour and large canvasses and the bold images, just to contrast with the paintings I’d seen before).
My favourite painting of the day was Renoir’s Gladiolas in a Vase (none of the photos below are mine, click photo for source).
This reminded me a little bit of the Dutch style of still life paintings I’d seen at the Rijksmuseum last year. Look at the detailing. He even painted those fizzy flowers in the front – I don’t know what they’re called. You have to see the original. It’s spectacular. Look at the balance despite the lack of symmetry. And the colours. Lipsmackingly beautiful.
And the other I liked was The Umbrellas. Again by Monsieur Renoir.
What I like about this painting is that despite the chaos of the background and the sea of umbrellas, your eyes are inadvertently drawn to the little girl, her mother (who is not even looking out). But I am distracted by the lady on the left. I try to imagine the painting without her. Would the eye then be drawn away into the background. Why is she there?
Passing out of the rooms I was struck by the gigantic Adoration of the Shepherds. It is stunning. I suppose the photographic equivalent of achieving this result would be to vignette the edges and increase shadows, and increase the exposure of the main object in the centre for indeed the Baby Christ is the one in focus in this painting. Everything is about him here, everybody is turned toward him (except the little creature at the bottom and a couple of the angels) and a light exudes from him. The eye is guided very easily in this painting.
All in all a great visit. The National Gallery itself is such a beautiful building, even more so from the inside. It’s lovely staircase, the ceiling, every room, the walls, the lights. Stepping out, people are clicking pictures of the Big Ben in the distance or of Nelson’s Column just in the front.
I returned home by bus. Even though it was a different route, I realised it was the same bus I’d taken in the afternoon. How do I know? The same full can of mirinda rolling about on the upper deck.
At night, I watched a very heart-warming movie, called “Up“. An animated story of a retired widower who floats away in his house using thousands of helium balloons to South America, all the time missing his dead wife, Ellie. Tears, tears, tears. I’m such a sobber. Boo hoo.
They make you feel low and make you want to quit your job and go back home to love, and make you cry at 3 in the night.
Edit: The movie in question was “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”. I rather liked it but made me question some of my choices. Bah.
Waking up last week, in the back of a taxi where I had been slumbering all the way from Heathrow, to the driver asking if it was the correct address, I felt disoriented and completely lost. Though it was just 7 or 8 pm, I was 5.5 hours ahead in body and spirit. I peered out groggily into the dark streets and couldn’t recognize the area. Plus he had on a song which sounded like children crying in low voices the word “Daddy” repeatedly. I made him drive about for some more time before I finally recognized my apartment house and he proclaimed it was exactly 5 meters from where he had originally stopped. To say I wasn’t feeling quite at home back in cold London was an understatement. After spending a month back home with hubby and family, I felt alone and even abandoned in a sense. Nothing seemed familiar anymore and it drove home the stupidity of our situation.
On Monday, the very next day, it was business as usual and I benefited from waking up early and being the first one in at work the entire week. It was a difficult week – going away for a month, no matter how desirable, can have a disrupting effect on your life and it takes a couple of days to adjust back. By the time the weekend was here, I was determined to enjoy all the joys the city has to offer. What I really like about London is how it has something for everyone. Perhaps this is true for a lot of large, international cities but I haven’t lived for a prolonged period of time in any of them. London has parks, museums, art in some many forms, a great tradition of music, the lovely river, the canals, the transport system (a lot of people crib about it but I think it’s absolutely brilliant), cultural diversity – reflected not just in the amazing people you see but also in the number of restaurants and cafes with varied cuisine, the shops catering to these cultures, their own little parts of the city where they live in larger concentrations and dress truer to their culture. London also has such healthy food – everywhere! And British humour. And great comedy. And nightlife. And the city has been looking all dressed up and extra gorgeous for Christmas. I could go on and on, it’s a fantastic city and for sure there are a lot worse places for having a long distance relationship 😉
Yesterday was my first Saturday back. I was glad I hadn’t stayed out too late at the office party on Friday night. I had an early start to the day and biked after breakfast around Clissold Park. The wintry sun was out and though there was a nip in the air, it felt great. The bare trees looked beautiful and I stopped to admire the ducks in the pond as large dogs shuffled past. Back on the bike and I turned to look once again at the pond when I saw a large flock of white birds descend in formation from the sky onto the leafless branches of a tree. Some organic veggie purchases and lunch and Napoleon Dynamite later, I decided to go watch Seven Psychopaths at Hackney Picturehouse. I quite like this sense of self containment I feel in this Borough. Nothing seems too far but at the same time I don’t feel like I’m just rooted in one spot and doing everything in a small radius. The movie itself was brilliant. I’d expected no less from the director of In Bruges.
I have to still get around to writing about Sikkim!
I really had the blues going in to work this morning. I’d bummed around the entire day yesterday after spectacular Saturday. Another brilliant movie recommendation by the house of Vonnie in the form of The Inbetweeners Movie made for evening viewing. Wasn’t the best movie you’ll ever see by a long shot (stories about sex-starved British boys on holiday never are) but it was entertaining and some scenes had me roaring. Nice for a few laughs. Plus instead of American boys doing a Euro-trip for a change it was lads from the Island. References to cups of tea were much appreciated. There were moments though when it was tiring to see Brits on holiday.
Last night I wrote to my landlord and also to the property agency serving my termination notice. I rewrote my emotional mail to my landlord and I think it ended up sounding a bit stiff. The property agent wrote back sometime during the day and confirmed that they will begin “remarketing the property”. He also mentioned that “The Landlord has been extremely pleased to have you as a Tenant Aarti and I suspect sorry to see you go”. I had to hold back tears when I read that. What’s wrong with me! Anyway, so it’s official now. Someone else will soon live here. I hope they’re nice to this apartment and don’t tear the place down. I already dislike them.
I toyed with the idea of taking the Duchess to work but left it in the end. I took the bus to North Greenwich as I have been doing these days. The station is close to the O2 orena where some Paraolympic events are being staged. I see quite a few people on the bus travelling to the events. To day there was a couple with a baby in a stroller. The father was holding the Union Jack. The little child was obviously teething and cried out in frustration every once in a while and would chew on his own or his father’s fist. I felt sorry for the little one. After some time, another stroller with a more outwardly looking child in it rolled in next to the first boy. This second child took great interest in the affairs of the first, troubled boy and even reached out to pull his hair on occasion.
The highlight of the day were the crimini mushrooms I bought after work. On the way home I resolved to make peas and mushroom curry. I got home, sauteed onions, pureed tomatoes, added some milk (I ended up adding too much milk actually), and then finally the mushrooms and peas. A little salt, some turmeric and red chilli flakes. That’s all. It was fast and simple to make. And really yummy too. I perhaps shouldn’t have added as much milk. But to compensate for that I mixed in some yogurt during dinner to make the gravy richer and thicker. It was delicious enough to change the mood of the day.
Just as a little side, my friend Pradnya and me have decided to do something healthy – whether it is in terms of diet, exercise or lifestyle – everyday and write about it on a daily basis to keep ourselves motivated. So this was my healthy thing of the day. Crimini mushrooms. Apparently they are an excellent source of many minerals. I also stocked up on plums and grapes. So there PD – your turn now!
I believe in chick-flicking my way through the desolation that is a Friday evening alone. Usually they leave a lot to be desired but every once in a while you get a wholesome chick flick – funny and light, romantic and oh yeah, most importantly – male lead who looks shexshy. Oh yeah. Ashton Kutcher – very cute. I really enjoyed watching this movie today. Plus I think Amanda Peet is cool. She’s also got a bit role (Celia) in One Fine Day – another gem of a chick flick, in fact one of my all time favourites!
Here’s a cool scene from the movie:
Also intriguing about this movie – people use bulky nokias, pagers, landlines (they use a lot of landlines) – including those dial phones. The SLR used in the movie was a film camera not a DSLR. I even saw a desktop computer somewhere. Nice semi-trip down the early tech-memory lane.
I’m fed up of being asked – when is your husband coming? Is he coming? Is he…? When? Any plans yet? Are you going back? He was here – for good then? You’re going in November – is he coming back with you? No? Then when? Accompanied by that look of pity. Hmmph. I actually had to tell someone today – it’s not that tough you know. It’s actually really annoying when people make that face and ask for updates every time they see you. How is the status going to change between bathroom breaks, really? And as for their pity – well, I feel sorrier for people who feel like it is impossible to have a life unless you have someone to accompany you. I hate the implicit assumption in their tones and expressions that I don’t have a life and all I do is sit and mope. The truth is that I probably have more fulfilling weekends (at least now that I have the exam out of the way) than them – I travel more, I read more, I go out more, I touch up photographs, I bike and I stay in touch with my friends. Being alone hasn’t stopped me in getting to know the culture of this place better. I admit I would probably do much better and have a more enriching life if Vinter was around but I am not afraid to do things alone. Many of the things I used to be afraid of earlier – darkness, new places, etiquette, meeting new people, being in unfamiliar surroundings, changing lightbulbs, solving tech issues, lifting heavy things, cooking and cleaning on my own, shopping alone, eating in restaurants alone, going to the movies by myself – I can do on my own now. This is not a proclamation that I don’t need you Vinter, it is a proclamation that I need you because I love you and not because I am helpless. To hell with what people say.
In other news – I finally finished watching Seven Samurai today. It’s a three hour long epic and I shamefully admit I was not up to watching all of it at one go. So I’ve been divvying it up post work and watched it in three separate sittings. I thought it was a great movie – interesting till the end. The essay included in the dvd extras talks about how this was a revolutionary movie at the time for many reasons, not least because it humanizes samurai at a time when cinema was prone to treating them as larger than life. Wonderful movie if you like subtleties and are a fan of Japanese steel.