Finally some warm glorious weather. I got home from class this evening and it was so sunny. I successfully inflated the Duchess’s tyres and we were on our way. First some little back lanes and then dodging people on Church street and then finally to Clissold Park. Everyone was out, enjoying the weather. Little, excited dogs everywhere, kids on tiny cycles or skates. The ducks in the ponds too seemed to be soaking it in (at least until a hyperactive spaniel chased them off the grass). It felt great to be cycling again. In little lanes, speeding down slopes, around the ponds. All in the bright evening sun. Long days, welcome back!
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!
At the outset I have to say that I don’t have a broadband connection at home yet (silly me I didn’t decide which one I wanted 563 years in advance!) and am restricted to typing out any posts and emails on my phone. Moving was easier than I had anticipated. I got home late on friday night thinking (mistakenly) that I would be able to wrap up packing in a couple of hours. It took me until 2 am. Everything went smoothly the next day. The man with his van arrived on time and we finished loading in 15 mins. On the way he told me entertaining stories of the people he meets in the course of his job. I returned to my old apartment to have it cleaned and finish with the inventory check. I felt heartbroken handing in the keys and took some silly phone photos of the front door. Afterwards I sobbed like an ass facing the river.
I went back to the new apartment and as a reward to myself and to take advantage of the convenience of the new place I got some thai takeout which I combined with a healthy dose of tele (finally!). The next day I had to open 4 boxes to make myself a cup of coffee as cups, coffee, sugar and spoons were all packed separately. I spent the entire day unpacking and in the end, the apartment looked lovely with all my familiar stuff.
I didn’t get a chance to hang out much in the new place in the first week though as a business trip took me to Helsinki where I can remember eating only boiled carrots. No pringles in the mini bar either, I compulsively eat those when on these business trips. Maybe I should carry energy bars from now on. The city looked lovely though, wearing autumn becomingly. The trees were golden-brown and as I entered Helsinki, a soft late evening light made them look heavenly. A hot air balloon hovered overhead.
Anyway, I deviate. So last weekend was my first full weekend in Stokey. I walked about, checking out the stores, cafes, people (lots of hipsters here but they seem toned down from the ones further south, along say Shoreditch). I paid a visit to the Whole Foods market – a lovely place but a bit pricey I felt. I am also very happy to note several smaller shops selling veggies, which include bhindi. I lunched with all my groceries at Rasa, a veggie southie restaurant where I had tomato rice and a mixed veggie curry. And oh yes, salted lassi. Many might wonder why this is such a big deal. Well firstly, restaurant – close to home! Secondly, veggie! Thirdly, not just veggie, Indian veggie. Lastly, South Indian veggie. That’s a hugggge step up from the “curry” I’ve been enduring here. (Worst of all is Balti cuisine sometimes trying to pass off as Indian). And yeah, lassi, not that commonly available my friends. I used to have to travel far for something like this earlier so I feel really grateful.
I was also happy to note the numerous gardening shops. I bought a few coloured pots. I walked to Clissold Park in the evening, the evening golden light passing through the trees. Looked a bit like Lothlorien to me (refer the Fellowship of the Ring).
I also had a bike ride, riding to Leah River and then further south along the river. There were little boats lining the banks in places, people actually staying in these. I rode to Victoria Park and through it, followed Regent’s canal in the wrong direction and ended up coming back to the Leah up north instead of going south as I wanted to. Thank you rubbish sense of direction. I haven’t yet started taking the Duchess to work as the route still seems a bit bewildering to me.
I’m also not posting any pictures because I find it a nightmare to post any media on wordpress from my phone. It usually fails anyway.