Monday, 31 October 2011

don't let your degree get in the way of your learning

Since, I arrived in Durham about a month ago, I have heard this line over and over again. During the PhD induction, during international student's induction, during college induction, during department induction, during university matriculation (induction). Over and over again....

"don't let you degree come in the way of your learning"

Ya, sure. I haven't even started work on my degree properly. But of course learning is going on, full steam. I have learnt to bear the cold of North England (god save me if I visit the Scots). I have learnt to watch (well, still learning) English shows on BBC Iplayer. I have learnt to find cheep food on the various shelfs of Tesco and M&S. I have learnt to endure the crests and troughs of Durham roads (yes, it is hilly). I have learnt to eat all kind of meat (hard to find your kind on the shelves). Most importantly, I have learnt of cook noodles and pasta (thanks to Shangkari). Yes, the water you boil your pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean. And yes I must visit the region and sample the water to bring perfection to my pasta. But yes I have learnt to survive.

But a couple of nights ago, I found that it wasn't just me who was learning or was interested in learning. People here are embracing the international culture. At least some of them. We had a Indian dinner get together on Saturday night. Thanks for the lovely dinner Kalpana. There were Chinese, Greeks, Malaysians, British and of course Indians. The food was good and so was the company. Now, since it was Indian food, I was back to my native ways of eating. Throw away the fork, the knife and the spoon. We have hands. The Chinese were quick to notice. And what happened next was a masterclass. No no, not in cooking. But eating, Indian style.

First stage was to eat chapati and chick peas (yes the ones that look like chicks). break the chapati into 4 equal pieces (well depends how big the chapati is. it could be more pieces). Use your hands to roll the chapati around the peas in the bowl/plate. Pick the chapati up and into the mouth. Hard to explain, these are matters of practical demonstration.

The second stage was rice and yes chick peas. Mix rice and the peas with your hands in the bowl/plate. Take some of that mixture on your 4 fingers. Bring them to the mouth and push the mixture in with the thumb (of the same finger). Yes, this is technical stuff. But again matters of practical demonstration. There are some pictures of the class but have not reached to me. I will share as soon as they do.

And the last one was to eat rice pudding. This one they found hard to believe as the pudding was a little bit hot. But not so much. The process is same as rice and peas.

And then the question. So, how do you eat soup. That got me into a fix. Well, not by chopsticks of course. But yeh, we just lift the bowl, tilt it and the soup goes in.

But yes, an amazing night of cultural exchange and of course fun. Next time, chinese food and chopstick class (at least thats the hope).

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

love letter

Sun is not only a god in India, but also a nuisance. It is not only sunny for most of the year but also very hot. So, for an Indian arriving in Europe for the first time, it was strange to see people flocking public places on a sunny afternoon.

But having now stayed here for about two weeks, I have come to realise the reason behind it. It is cold, windy, rainy and sometimes sunny here. So, of course there is a high demand for the finite resource called sunlight.

Thanks to Durham, I can now appreciate the Sun and its power. It surely is a God and the ultimate source of energy.

------------------------------------------------------ X ----------------------------------------------------


I miss the warmth you gave me, for all I have around me here is darkness and chill. I couldn't value you when you were near me, just as I didn't value the Sun. Now that, you are not around and neither is the warmth of the Sun, I know what I am missing.

There are days when the Sun comes out. My body gets warm but my soul is still cold for I don't have you, the source of my energy with me.

Durham has made me realise the value of both the Sun and you for now I feel, I need both of you, more and more.


This is part of a school exercise on writing styles. The target was to write the same content in different styles viz. descriptive, travelog, drama, conversation & love letter. The paras presented above are from two of the writing styles, namely descriptive and the love letter, respectively. I will be posting the other writing styles in future posts.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

keeping on the toes


I suddenly woke up cursing my alarm clock for going mad. Next moment I realised, its the bloody fire alarm. I ran out of my room and started banging on other's doors. Well of course the alarm was enough to wake everyone up but just to add my nuisance (love doing that) to it, I banged on on everyone's door. So much so that I did not even leave anonymous (you may remember her from my last post, that is if you read it). Thought for 5 brief moments before banging her door but ultimately voted in favour.

And so spread the panic and everyone started running out in whatever state they were. Thankfully everyone (in our flat) was in a decent state (and in their respective rooms). Seeing Jenny, I realised that I must get my jacket and wasted another 5 panic moments on that.

All this time in the background there was a constant, non stop, giiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrr

And all this time I kept banging Kelley's door but no answer (later found out that Chinese are fire proof). Well, so we all, minus Kelley ran out of the flat and out of the building to the designated assembly point (on the way I even banged on Kelley's window). So, there we were, 6:55 am, out in the cold. Some with warm cloths, some without. Some even without foot wares (Julia was among them), trying to save their feet from freezing.

5 min later, it was announced that we could now go back to our rooms. Thankfully, I had no classes to attend and hence could resume my sleeping. Finally got up at 10:30 am. Damn you fire alarm.

As a background to all this, its my moral duty to inform you all that this was not a real fire situation and just a 'bloody drill'. Now, you must think that I was banging the doors of my flatmates to save them from fire. Well, not so my friends, not so. We knew that there was going to be a drill and I had the realisation all along that this giiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrr was part of the drill. Why the banging then? Well, I was trying to save myself. You see, it was announced earlier that if all the residents don't come out within 3 min of the fire alarm, the exercise would be repeated. And I was not at all up to going through this again. So, in order to save my self from another round of mock drill (it was my moral duty) at I don't know what time of the day/night, I had to make sure that everyone from my flat was out.

Sadly could not manage to get Kelley out (I am sure he was dreaming of Chinese invasion of India). But thankfully, others didn't find this out (of Kelley being in his room, not the dream) and we were saved the pain of another drill.

However, having said all that this was my first experience of fire drill and now I understand the process. Good for me. The giiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrr shall always keep me on my toes (hope they don't start paining).

Monday, 10 October 2011

cold and spice less

28th of October 2011 is when I moved to England. A place called Durham in North East of England will be home for the coming years.

It was bright and sunny when I got here giving a sense of relief and pleasure. But soon the English weather came to its real characters. We are now being greeted by rain and chilled winds everyday. I remember now, a wise man (or woman may be, don't remember) told me that the first thing to buy in Durham is an umbrella. Well, it wasn't the first thing that I bought but yes now I have a disappointingly small umbrella which barely covers both of my shoulders. Nevertheless, protection is necessary however small or big it may be. So, yes after shelling out 10 pounds of my (father's) hard earned money I now cruise proudly in the rain. Heartbreak: Can't sing 'pyar hua ikrar hua' under it although it would be best for 'aaj rapat jaayen to humain na uthaiyo'.

Moving on. As I said after a couple of days it has been all cold and windy. But it I mention that to add insult to my injury, life for me has turned spice less for me. Most of my friends are aware of my amazing cooking skills. I think I will won't be exaggerating if I say I don't even know how to make tea (without teabags that is, Indian style). So, yes I loaded my bags at home with plenty of spices but right now they are just sitting (or rather sleeping) in my cupboard waiting for their turn. I doubt if that ever is going to come. So eggs and salami it is for me. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I fear that I myself may turn into an egg (eggophobia).