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“Remembrance of Things Past”

The Soulmate is bewildered at my new anglophile status. No, I am not mentioning about my last post, but he is annoyed with my constant cribbing over my recent move to a new country, my crying over my recent pseudo-friendless status following the move, and my unwillingness to adapt to a new environment. 

His theory: people from all over the world want to come to US, and to prove my sanity I should share the same feelings. He points out that it is a shortcoming of my character to crib and cry over my 'discontent with life' (his words not mine) and reminded me of similar situations when I made a big fuss of living in England. In retrospect, I dwell on nostalgia and tried to find out how I arrived to this situation. 

Within a week of my arrival in England, I realized why Englishmen (and women) start a conversation by talking about the weather. Well, when it rains 300 days a year (at least in Manchester, where I lived when I first moved to England), a comment on weather is the only effective way to ‘break the ice’. You go to work, and talk about weather with your colleagues before you start the day. There is a cute guys standing at the bar and you want to start a conversation, go and ask, “B’ful day. Huh?” Don’t worry even if it is 2 degree outside. If he is interested, he will sure come out with, “Could not ask for a better day”. 

You get so obsessed with weather that you bookmark the BBC weather website as your favourite, click the website for a rain check before you start your day, keep checking every hour of the day, check again before you go grocery shopping, before you plan a holiday weekend or a night out in the town with friends, and before you go to bed. It is beyond my understanding why the Met office waste so much money on weather forecasts when it is anyway going to rain. 

The second thing that hit me hard was the British fashion. There I was standing in Waterloo station like a sore-thumb in a canary yellow sweater, tangerine windcheater and my favourite purple scarf amid a sea of black coats, brown cardigans, black skirts, brown hats, black scarves and brown boots. I felt British fashion is hell bent on complimenting the British weather, always dark and grey. I was baffled initially with the tunics and dresses with no waistline, accessorized with oversized-bags, but over the next two years I slowly started appreciating those mini skirts and thin legs in opaque tights and big Ugg boots. I quickly tossed away those happy colours in my wardrobe and dressed myself in monochrome layers. This switch- over to darker colours did not make me an overnight fashion icon in Britain though. Passers by still sneered at me as I reached out for that extra layer of shawl even when I took a walk on the beach silently applauding the bravery of those who clanked their sky- high heels against the pavers and walked to the pub in near zero temperature in just a cocktail dress. 

With a new wardrobe, I also got myself a new lingo. You can read more about this here

Coming from India, my idea of going out with friends means gossips, movie, shopping, more gossip and stuff your stomach with junk foods. While the first four were readily available in England, unfortunately, the fifth was not. Other than Burger King and McDonald, hotdog was the only other roadside food available outside the shopping mall. Soon fish and chips, and potatoes in all states of existence (mashed, hashed, crashed and smashed) became my staple food, and kebab and chicken tikka masala was a regular for weekends (Little risky to ask for kebabs on a weekend evening, as u might be mistaken for another binge drinker). I always detested English breakfast. To me, a plate full of toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, hash browns, bacon, mushroom and tomato does not resemble a breakfast plate. Well, for ‘breakfast’ I need just breakfast, and not lunch or dinner. 


                                    Image Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_breakfast

After living on bland insipid food for seven months, I received my first food-fix in Slovenia. I was totally knocked down by the flavour of the food in Slovenia, reminding me that food can still be called food even if it does not contain potato. A year later, to reliven my ailing taste buds, I took it on a month long gastronomic expeditions trip around India. On a positive note, though, I will always miss those proper English cheddar, PG Tips tea (ummm) and baked beans. 



Image Source: www.moreintelligentlife.com

One thing that I totally got hooked to during my short (six months) working life in London is the underground services. Simply getting up in the morning and taking the tube to work had been a huge stress-buster. I loved my morning ritual of shooting out of south-west trains in the waterloo station cursing the new barrier gates, and queuing on the wrong side of the escalator (they drive on the left side, right? Then why que on the right side?), throwing few pennies onto the busker’s pitch and running to catch the tube while the busker’s tune still playing in my mind. I miss the community feeling of sharing the journey with that UCL undergrad in torn jeans, the corporate executive in a smart suit, and rest of the fairer species (including me) perfecting their make-up and ignoring jealous stares from men (just because you cannot shave on the tube does not mean that I should not put on my mascara). Leafing through freebies like Metro and London light, while getting my daily dose of celebrity gossips and scandals on the way back home made it a perfect day.

 Image courtesy: Sriram Boothalingam

Any day I will prefer driving on UK roads than in US, if only they take away the roundabouts. My asinine grey matter believes that those were made to mislead one certain Mr. Bonaparte and refrain him from following the British army back to UK. But, hey, I am not French, and your roundabouts have detoured me enough and spoiled the few driving excursions I braved to take. That reminds me, I should stop cribbing about LA downtown traffic and appreciate that they did not introduce roundabouts to ease traffic flow. 

Now coming to this point, I guess I am getting a little confused about whether I loved or loathed England. But one thing that tops of things I miss about England is- friends (did not get much chance to miss family having had a visit from him already). I miss having them at the beck of a call or at most a mail, just being able to walk down to the nearest pub with them, celebrating Desi Parties at all latitudes and longitudes of UK. I also miss the Brits a lot. Not always apprehending their dry sense of humour, I always appreciated the politeness though. 

I guess I am equally being missed. I should be missed by: 

1.   My friends- Guys, please support my point by putting nice and flattering comments.

2.   Manchester Rain- Nobody ever talked about them or gave importance as much as I did. During my time there, Manchester rain almost acquired the celebrity status just by getting mentioned frequently in mails, phone calls, personal conversations, and my blog.

3.   Virgin Trains- They surely fattened their profit bags and missing a customer like me who boarded them every weekend.

4.   Mr. Smith- The Pub Landlord’s Rottweiler, Mr Smith must be waiting every Friday for the hand that secretly passed him Walker crisps under the table.

5.   The sale racks on Oxford Street.

Remembrance of Things Past- This title is taken from a sonnet by Shakespeare

       

4 comments:

sushmit said...

Yes, it would have better if you had been in UK. At least we would have been the near about time zones and could have had a easier communciation or may be visits.

Moumita said...

@ Susmit, Thats why my blog is here. Visit this and it will be as good as visiting me.

Ashwin Baindur said...

Just remembered the Brits used to call the French as 'frogs' just as they were themselves called 'limeys' and the Americans as 'Yanks'.

Source - Commando comics of yesteryear!

Moumita said...

@ Ashwin,

Americans are still Yankies in Britain. But 'frogs'? Thats a new information.

Thanks for sharing.

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