This has been the quote of the week for me. I have loved living every part of this week…even if it is just because of something like drunk karaoke or pyjama Saturdays. Meeting a religious enthusiast in the middle of the Kingston High street and spontaneously starting a debate about God has been the highlight of the week. I was trying my best to give a non offensive diplomatic response to “did man make God or did God make man”. By the way if it does interest you to know, my answer would be that one can’t prove or disprove belief or faith but if faith keeps you happy then keep at it. In other words, man made up the concept of God but if that belief helps you cope with life, then I am no one to stop you from believing it. This off course is completely irrelevant but having the debate was quite fun and I hope it stirs up some opinions!
Actually the main reason I think this is the quote of the week is because I’ve noticed so many people I know have left to start their own lives. Soon, I will be leaving my friends and family too. So I guess I want to embrace these few moments with them because I know this time won’t come again. That’s not a negative fact by the way, it’s just a mere fact of life.
So I thought… Hey why the hell not just live a little…life is going to start soon and I’m going to be sucked into an endless pile of workload. So, screw it, I’m going to have fun these few weeks xD.
It’s a very exciting time for me right now. Many of my friends are packing to move out, in fact, one of my close friends has moved into university today. I’ve been meeting up with people all month to try to catch a final glimpse of them before they settle at their respective universities all over the United Kingdom. I’ve friends going to Durham, Bath, Oxbridge, Loughborough, UCL, Exeter and many more.
As well as the socialising, university preparation has been ongoing. I’ve been shopping for things like stationary, clothes, living materials and kitchen equipment for a long time. There’s still a final IKEA trip to organise for everyone’s things which we should hopefully do this week. There are things to buy and stuff to do and responsibilities like pre-reading and paperwork on our heads. Is this the start of a very different lifestyle?
If there’s one thing that has stood out the most it has been the importance of money. I’ve had to calculate a lot of financial information regarding the student loan I’ll be receiving and the money I will have during my course and what I found is that it’s not very much. Budgeting is now a big part of my life. I’ve come to the point where I don’t buy anything until I’ve cross checked it with three other stores and I don’t shop unnecessarily. I’ve even started an accounts page where I note down everything I spend. EBay is now my best friend because I’ve realised that university is an expensive place. My family always told me to spend wisely but I guess, selfish as it is, I never really understood the value of that until now because I was living under my parents roof and had the bank of mum and dad. Now I don’t have anything except a small loan I’ll have to live on and that changes a lot of things.
I’d just like to say I dislike the “system” and any restrictions on life because of money immediately turn me into a grumpy ferocious animal. I don’t like money and I don’t like the way it affects people and if I had it my way I would live without it any day. However the unfortunate thing about being against the system as opposed to say eating meat is that it’s not something you can avoid on a daily basis. I don’t like the system but I live in it so I’m sort of stuck in mud here. So in a way the budgeting is a good thing because I don’t want money affecting me in the future when I’m living by myself. It’s a really good experience for anyone really -learn how to live on nothing and you shall find yourself living happily…
Stage 1: collect everything that you probably think you need from your house. And then get more and make a pile of stuff that your parents can’t stand the look of. Oh, and definitely keep everything in unorganised bags.
From 24/06/14 to 15/09/14 I had been celebrating to my heart’s content for three main reasons; one was that two years worth of hardship and suffering, ups and downs, deadlines and coursework had ended completely, second was that exams were over and life had started again which had meant meeting friends and doing things I had neglected doing for a very long time, and lastly because I was celebrating the only remaining moments of childhood, family life and freedom left before I moved out and started my own life.
On 26/06/2014 I left for India with a very close friend of mine and stayed there till early September. Not only did I have an absolutely amazing time travelling across India to see life in a very environment, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders because I was home after 6 years. Leaving my house had always troubled me and I felt I had to go back one last time before I could finally move on even if it meant to just embrace my grandparents and take their blessings. As I was still a child in their eyes I was loved and taken care of like a little baby. Food was served, my bed was made, my every wish was granted, I did little work and I felt like singing Hakuna Matata every day…
As results came out on 14/08/2014 and I had a sole principle to worry only when necessary about them, I didn’t really care whether I got accepted into university or not. It came up in conversations from time to time and I brushed it off with a “let’s not worry until after results… I don’t even know if I’m going to university yet.” Results day came and went in an instant and I felt another piece of childhood slip away. I received 3A*s in Maths, Physics and Product Design but I was not happy. I was relieved to see my hard work pay off but I was scared for my dear life for what was about to happen.
I am going to start Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London on 4/08/2014. That’s scary! I’m not ready for this – I’m not ready to take on that course. I’m stupid, for god’s sake, there’s not a cell in my body with common sense and I’ve the brain capacity of a walnut. How am I going to do this? The thought itself sends shivers down my spine because I know more than anyone what it took to get 3A*s and I know what I’m going to have to do for university. Perhaps that’s why I slacked off after coming back from India. I felt childish and resistant to move on and if that meant staying up to watch Supernatural all night instead of completing my application, I was all in.
You’d think that all time would stop and life would end in a freeze frame once it does but you know life kept going and time never stopped. I would stay in bed all day, every day, and it would feel like time hadn’t moved at all but the dates would change every 24 hours and they would keep changing because time kept going even though I had stopped. I realised that it’s as dangerous to stop in the flow of time as it is so stop on top of a waterfall. You have got to keep flowing with it…
So I started again. I woke up this morning in new spirit. I felt awake. I started ticking off things on my list I had promised I would do like working out for instance. I woke up and felt ready. The strange thing was that I wasn’t ready. I will never be ready, that’s too hard, but believing I was ready was easy. It was simple, straightforward, and it may surprise you to know that the more you believe that something is alright, the easier life becomes. So just hold your heart, say “all is well”, cheat the fear that’s controlling you and move onwards through life because it won’t wait for you.
Travelling through India can be quite daunting especially when you’ve received a culture shock. I’ve been through villages before so I’m quite used to the clay huts, excessive jewellery and the wild cows crossing the road but this was the first time I’d met an old “family friend” from Bihar. And oh my, this man had the loudest, hoarsest and scariest dialect in the world… I could feel my heartbeat racing just listening to him talk (not shout, talk.) And to top it off, he assigned us a driver that honked at anything within a radar of 20 meters – so you can imagine sitting in a van in the blistering heat of Uttar Pradesh listening to honking all day got incredibly frustrating…
Although it felt distracting at the time, the minute we drove into the city of Agra I was amazed. It was maybe even just the small red bricked buildings… When I first saw Akbar ka Mukbarah, the burial place of King Akbar, the architecture was incredibly breathtaking. How Islamic geometric patterns decorated the bricks, and the writing of the Qur’an was carved in marble stone, it was beautiful – for something made in a time where there was no CAD drawings, no automation – just hand tools. As well as that, there must have been some genius mathematical perfection in how the tomb was designed because from the tomb you could see everything that was happening at the front gate but from the front gate you couldn’t see inside the tomb.
I love visiting old buildings just to see the imprints of time – At the Mukbarah you could see how different kings had marked their own presence on their walls. In fact, it is slightly scary how desperate people are to make their own mark that they were even willing to graffiti over some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. And it’s not just that, I often hear people saying they want to be remembered after they die. I suppose it’s because it’s really important to us to know that there is more than just an abrupt end to it all.
The Taj Mahal is the marble tomb of the red city of Agra and it is absolutely stunning. Again, it’s the manual labour that captures you. It took 30,000 men to make it and they all had their hands chopped off. And then there’s the dedication – a marble tomb dedicated to the love of Shah Jahan’s life. Who falls in love like that these days?
Indian trains have always been my favourite mode of transport. I’ve simply enjoyed the chaos of them. One would think that having lived in London, the city known for its public transport, I couldn’t possibly enjoy the small, dingy, rocky compartments of the Indian rails but no way, there’s just no comparison.
Once you enter the train you’re bombarded with people from the left, right and centre. You’ve got to pass through small alleyways with huge baggage in 5 minutes or else the train will leave without you. And when you’re on it, you’ve got a long stream of tea sellers, sandwich sellers, eunuchs and beggars passing through the compartments trying to get you to buy something. At night time, you lay out the 3 tier beds and get rocked to sleep. (I’ve shot-gunned the top bunk for life.)
The best part though is that the trains have open doors – which mean you can literally sit at the conjunction of the two compartments with the wind hitting your face as you move… it’s amazing just to pass through places and catch a glimpse of people’s lives in different cities and towns.
The train stations though – some of the things you see at the train station is just crazy. I’ve seen trains that feel 4 sizes too small for the amount of people on them… People sleep at the platform, cross the tracks and simply go crazy when the train arrives. All in all, it’s a chaotic mess and yet there’s still something exciting as hell about them.
So we were on our way to Sanjay Gandhi National park; a beautiful forest in the middle of Mumbai – it’s a preserved natural jungle which looks amazing in the Monsoon. We had to go there to go to the Kanheri Caves and to go on a safari – but because we were late we didn’t actually get round to properly doing anything – instead we went through a highly traumatic monkey battling experience.
We were sitting in our cars when Sandesh, our driver, fully aware of what he was doing, rolled down the windows and started beckoning the monkeys that were perfectly fine being left alone.
He started feeding some of them and god, it was so adorable the way they would take the food out of his hand and start asking for more – yes, it was the cutest thing, but then, things started to get feisty. These monkeys were so enthusiastic! One of them climbed on top of the car bonnet – and another one was on top of the rear-view mirror stealing from Sandesh’s hand…
The worst one though was when a completely unexpected monkey climbed on the window on our side of the car and started reaching inside the car for the food from Sandesh – I mean, the monkey was friendly – but jesus-freaking-Christ!