Today was the perfect day to stay at home or “be local”. It snowed for most of the day and for a change I could manage to relax around the house without getting restless or feeling like I was wasting my life. A late breakfast, accompanied by classic FM, some light cleaning (drain, ugghhh) and laundry, and some fun cooking – french beans and tur dal interspersed with staring out of the window. I heard some birds chirping outside and left some bread crumbs outside the door and on my balcony, thinking it must be tough for them to get grub with all the snow. I trudged out to Abney Park cemetery once again today, sliding on the pavements in the gritty slush. It looked even more beautiful today than it did yesterday. The falling snowflakes made everything surreal. The ground was icy but pristine white. I walked in the park’s little paths, feeling like the only person in the whole place. The trees and little plants were completely laden with snow. The occasional bush would heave and its leaves would try and shake off some of their soft burden. I encountered a few more birds, many were singing. Perhaps they too were excited with the beauty of the whole scene. Back home, it was time for the kettle and another cup of tea.
I didn’t carry my trusty Nikon today because I didn’t want to expose it to the snow (and sorely missed having a compact camera) but here are some more photos from yesterday. All the branches on these trees were covered in white today, it was magical.
This had been a very long week indeed. Granted that I hadn’t taken a break during the holiday season but just the very thought of seeing the office full and buzzing was enough to lower me into a state of blues on monday morning. And then the week itself – oh so hectic. By Friday, everyone was so snappy, irritable and frustrated, it was obvious that pretty much everyone felt the same way. After work, some of us decided to go look at ice sculpting in progress while sipping on hot glu wine. This was at Wood Wharf, connected to Canary Wharf via a small bridge. It was all lit up and as we approached it, I could see lights dancing on the water’s surface and it felt, if only for a nanosecond, like the festivities weren’t over just yet. The sculptors were busy at work, sawing away at their frozen blocks of raw material, lit with pink lights, while people huddled about watching them. For me the mulled wine was the best part – nice and hot, to hold and to drink. To cherish and to savour, until well until the last drop do you apart.
Once the wine was over, I just wanted to get out of there. There’s only so much you want to see of the people you work with after a point on friday (not applicable to all colleagues, and especially not applicable to my lovely group at my previous job whom I was always happy to hang out with). I headed home, the evening standard, my usual companion with me. I finally managed to convince my west-London inhabiting friend to come visit Hackney. He thought the whole place had an air of council housing but then the bastard hasn’t seen the charming Victorian houses all around Stokey.
I dragged my pal to Punjab 58 for some good old North Indian cooking. I love having Indian food with other Indians. Unfortunately a lot of my colleagues here tell me that to them all Indian food tastes the same. Obviously they are talking about “curry” and this dosh isn’t always Indian food. Anyway, we had the most awesome meal – chickpea and potato salad for starters, palak paneer, yellow daal, chapatis and rice. There was no place for dessert after that! I have to say that I love Punjabi cooking, and Indian cooking in general. The form, the colours, the unique flavours and how you can construct a different taste with each bite, the presence of sweet and tangy and spicy all on the same plate. I was quite pleased with the place and the fact that it is so close to home. Definitely worth another visit.
Today the sleep deficit of the past couple of weeks finally caught up and I woke up around mid-day. Breakfast was the last remaining slice of a pizza I’d ordered on Tuesday. It’s been a lazy day and the most I exerted myself was to get some groceries to stock up for the week. I watched a chick flick – Two weeks notice – and I sobbed a bit. I have to say it wasn’t the best and Sandra Bullock (though I love her) and Hugh Grant don’t have much chemistry together.
Tomorrow is ‘no trousers on the tube’ day. Which means there will be loads of people on the London Underground without pants. This I gotta see!
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!
Would you like to hang out in a cemetery on a cold Sunday afternoon? You would probably say no. However, the Abney Park Cemetery is also a nature reserve. I had a pleasant time trudging about there, clicking pictures of tombstones and graves, some simple, others very elaborate. Some dating back to the early 20th century. The most recent ones being from the ’70s. Time and trees’ roots have made many tilt to one side, some crack, some tombstones and adornments have fallen, many have ivy growing all over them. It was in a way quite sad, the epitaphs of many lovingly written. Many souls missed. But their mourners now having long passed on themselves.
It was a sunny day so it wasn’t eerie. There was one time when the sun went behind some clouds and it became quite dark. I was momentarily alone – the other visitors to the park nowhere in sight – surrounded by tombs. I tried my best to work up a feeling of dread, a chill. But I just couldn’t. I have to say though, I wouldn’t want to be here in the dark.