Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Two Month Stock Taking..

Just this morning, as I was walking back home from class...on a chilly but sunny winter Falmer Brighton morning, I was making mental notes about this post... The campus already looks different...Its been exactly 2 months since I set up temporary home in Falmer - atleast for the year.... No more leaves left on the trees...that follows that a sunny day no more lets you walk around in a top teamed up with a warm Tshirt... t... The mufflers and the scarves, the gloves and the hat and the coats and the socks are out...its quite a ceremony indeed preparing even to pop out to get milk and eggs..very often these days, I have learnt to do without things..than make a trip through drizzly freezing lanes till the nearest Student Union shop on campus.. And even the initial thrills of letting your breath out as thin wispy smoke trails no more evokes giggles over the newness of it all.... I keep my head low if its raining..my raincoat buttoned up till the neck - which by the way has become my distinctive Indian fashion statement- thats all anyone can see of my 'sartorial elegance' if they were to run into me on my way to class, with the cape unflatteringly tightened with a cord under my chin to keep the icy drizzle's shameless invasion.. By the time I get to my University Block, and my numb fingers are searching through an assortment of metal in my purse to come up with a dull brass heavy coin, that could get me a cup of coffee....by now I have coded my moods to cappuccino, latte and moccachino after having flirted 'accidently' with espresso that left a bitter aftertaste - imagine paying a pound for that little shot of coffee??!! I have also by now learnt to traverse successfully through Bagels and Crumpets and Doughnuts and Strudels and Danish....A great bargain buy on fruits and vegetables struck at the local Asda or Sainesbury's has come to be included in the highlights of my days some weeks.. When I'd landed here, I wanted to be just another student...not particularly interested in standing out as an Indian in the pack or seeking out other Indians out of compulsion...That could explain why it took me about a month to discover that the Student Residence that I was living in had atleast ten Indians residing in the same lane... But I realise now that you can take an Indian out of India but not the India out of her - it was a distinct kick of joy that I felt when I accidently stumbled upon the Taj Grocer - an Indo-Pakistani place in Brighton - let me try to explain..when you are picking out tender okra for your favourite bhindi bhaaji, while listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or even any sidey Bollywood number, you forget to wince at having to pay nearly 3 pounds just to travel about 20 minutes out of the University - this pleasure suddenly seems worth it... Just two months into my new life...I have nearly forgotten the busy professional cutthroat world I left behind...But mind you, its not all rosy...if the winter is not dampening my mood or raising my sense of loneliness...there's the 'pinch of the purse' factor.. I look back at nostalgia at the easy manner I had fallen into of not checking tags before indulging in a spot of retail therapy back home...Then I needed it to relieve the stress...I had the money but time and energy were rationed commodites...Now tables have turned...here I have no stress, I have time and a lot of pent up energy..But money is now on the ration card.. Its not a bad life at all...Its as bright as the carousel that I stood watching some time ago at the Brighton Pier Sometimes I find it tough to be thankful for the little pleasures that I have in life now..And then, all it takes is another walk through the chilly winter sunny afternoon for a quite note of thanks to be despatched up with the thin trail of wispy smoke that I blow out of my mouth... The fickle mind of an international student, I tell you....:)


  1. It must be tough going back to student life. I've never done it but I can imagine it's not easy, although it's probbaly tempered for you by coming out of your Indian environment into something completely different. I was at Loughborough University in the early eighties and in our self catering accomodation there were loads of foreign students, and quite a few from India. I think my pals and I survived on a diet of baked beans and Castle Eden ale for two years, but from the smells coming out of some of the other blocks it was clear that some of our fellow students were living a little more imaginatively than we were.

    I've never been to Falmer but I have postcards dating to 1913 and 1914 which show local Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) assembling on the downs there and putting into practice their medical skills which the country would so badly need between 1914 and 1918.

  2. Yeah, deciding to hit the books after 8 years of working is not the easiest decision that I have taken, but all the blood and sweat now seems worth it...Maybe I have the gypsy gene to adjust to new places and situations and just not set down roots...While in India I worked out of 5 cities in 8 years - including Bangalore..So I guess, that speaks its own tale..

    Brighton so far has been wonderful, but there is still more to be discovered...the South Downs, Seven Sisters, Eastbourne, Lewes Castle..There are so many centuries of tales waiting to tell their stories..

  3. Arundel castle as well, is certainly worthy of a day trip. The South Downs are beautiful and I still can't decide whether, when the time comes, I'll have my ashes scattered there or over the bar at TGI Friday in Bangalore. Life is full of tough choices.

  4. Its interesting to see that a lot of us Indians notice the same things in the UK, cant help making the same comparisons so to speak with our homeland. From food to clothing to lifestyle to shopping to bonding with asian community its the same cycle. I guess you being a temporary visitor are taking in a lot more a lot sooner. Or may be its the journalist in you that makes you more receptive to everything around you.
    Even after 5 years here, bargains at my local ASDA dont seize to make my day too. And yes another thing that I am learning past few months that you have so nicely said is - "Sometimes I find it tough to be thankful for the little pleasures that I have in my life right now". Thats what living in a different country does to you. You go out of your comfort zone and your habitual stresses and realise how fuller your life already is without all your conventional cravings.