My previous blogs would have told you this, if not I will tell you now. I came to London with a heavy heart, loads of apprehensions and plenty of doubts. People had done their bit in scaring me saying that the city was racist and that I would find no help and I would feel lost and all that. Even though it was bullshit, it was cartloads full and so it weighed on my mind unwantedly. If I dont have that burden now, I owe it to this beautiful city and its people. Like the autumn that makes trees shed their leaves with beautiful colors and grow new ones, something about London made me shed my worries, freshened me up and made me a better person.
A city where chivalry still exists, where normal courtesies havent been lost, where smiles still work and goodness of heart wins people over in the 21st century – this place is unimaginable. It is ancient in attitudes and modern in some other things. It doesnt know where it belongs – its kind of yesterday in some aspects, today in certain things and tomorrow in a few others. 🙂 Its confused. I would place it somewhere between an old village and a proper city. People would choose to have an antenna on top of their house but within they would prefer the latest model TV. Tubes about to start, a guy comes running very fast and just as the doors are about to close and stops the door from closing with himself – the driver announces "Stand clear of the closing doors please". This guy pants for breath and apologizes to the person whom he hit while entering. He is more often than not forgiven instantaneously. "Crazy isnt it", he asks. "Ya, peak hour" comes the reply. 🙂 Its chaotic but its fantastic.
London is at once historic, romantic and entertaining. Lords, Wimbledon, Chelsea – name another city which has better. Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, Harrow – name better! A walk on the Thames banks, a look at the Sherlock Holmes statue on Baker Street, a visit to Tussauds or a simple stroll in Kensington Gardens, a peep into Harrods – each had a natural uniqueness to it that I guess will be difficult to find elsewhere in the world. Whether it was in Trafalgar Square where I quietly sat with Ram taking in the splendour of the place or the roads of Wembley where i walked with Govind or Oxford Street where I did the first shopping of my life with Usha or just a run down the slope in East Croydon station ignoring the warning boards, I enjoyed every moment. My trip to Wales where I had my first barbecue, watching a test match at Lords, theatre in Stratford Upon Avon, musical at the Palace Theatre, my first experience of a trip into sea at Brighton, getting lost in the Notting Hill Carnival, the first sight of a seal, my first snow – I can go on and on. I lived in this city. This is the only place apart from Chennai where I felt the depth of the phrase "lived every moment". I am now able to comprehend why some of the best books, poems, art and imagination came from this city. It kind of becomes a part of you in a comfortable way.
Let me keep modesty aside for a while and live with sensibility for sometime. Professionally, this trip has been a stellar one for me. The growth and experiences that I have had here in these few months have been much more than what I had in my previous 3 years at Infosys in India. Client was impressed with my work and I recieved accolades without having to ask. My English has been appreciated by native born english men and women which I feel great about. I have been offerred help by my client folks if I want to settle here ever in my life. Not that I would ever want to, but still it was nice of them to offer. There are no words that describe the extent of happiness that I have when I think of all this. I have refined my communication and my listening capability after coming here. I have become better at presentation and at writing a professional document. I have a network in my client place which I intend to treat with respect and not utilize. I have earned respect and have become a better professional.
Personally, I nurtured my culinary skills. I learnt how to live alone. I learnt how to travel – to see things and appreciate them. This trip has made me relook my priorities and now has me looking at life from a new dimension. I know how to curtail my urge to spend better than I did before. I can appreciate art now, know how to appreciate weather. I made some money – yes. But more than that I made good friends. Friendship is never declared out aloud, it is never planned; it just happens and so far that has been the best thing to keep happening in my life. I know I have troubled my roomies and their husbands with my non stop FM radio kind of talk – but they are my friends and I am very sure they will miss it. 🙂 I even miss watching OSO…. not that much, but ya I do.
While I wait for Infosys bus in the morning, I know I will hear "Mind The Gap" and smile at myself. Although my return is taking me to my loved ones in India, I will be followed with the thoughts of this lovable city. "Hi there, you allright?", "Welcome aboard the Southern Service to London Victoria" and "After you" will fill my mind. Although I will enjoy bajjis on the beach in Chennai, I will miss the dinners that we had in Chennai Dosa. When I sit down to eat dinner, I will bore my mom with details of all that we cooked and how we ate in June Rose House. I will surely miss "Tum tadka rakhegee?", "Mein kaatoon", "Aaj kya banaayen" and "Slit the chillies".
As I write this blog, I am being lifted off from this magnificient city and propelled across the ocean to my homeland which I love even more. I realize that I am leaving London with the same moist eyes, clogged throat and heavy heart with which I came. I have lived in Bangalore, Trivandrum, Tirunelveli and in Saudi Arabia for some periods in my life. But I felt at home only in Chennai and in London. These little more than 100 days in London have enhanced my life in more ways than one and filled me with pleasure. If ever I get a chance to live in London for a few years in my life, I would love it.