Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still alive, still here, still jobless.

Sadly, my dreams of how to spend the Christmas holidays have come to nothing (this would be the dream of hysterically working my ass off and thus accumulating large sums of money) which means that I am now spending Christmas in London with my good friends Anisha and Prashant, at the house of Aunty Hazel, a lovely British lady with whom we shall have a lovely English Christmas. I also get to attend a lovely Christmas service with people from my church, which is more than I had hoped for from this year really.

...remind me why I started off my paragraph with the word 'sadly'?

The only sad part (aside from the mercenary) is that I'll be missing Christmas with my housemates...the pain is dulled somewhat by the fact that we have cleverly devised a way in which I can still participate in Secret Santa, long distance. Exchanging of the chits has just occurred, which means that I'm already worrying about whether my Secret Victim will like my present or not. 

I am aware that 'tis the season to be jolly, and sing 'fa-la-la-la-la' in an annoying high pitched voice in people's ears at unexpected moments, but somehow this year I feel most un-Christmassy. All this is despite the fact that the city centre has been drenched with Christmas lights and decorations since the beginning of November, and giant Christmas trees have been erected at strategic points, and all the shops have cunningly lowered their prices in time for Christmas shopping (who's complaining?!) It didn't take much thought to conclude that this sad lack of Christmas spirit is not due so much to the lack of Christmas-ness in the environment, but to the lack of home, family and my lovely, lovely church, St. Andrew's Kirk Chennai. Sigh.

Usually, things go somewhat like this:

UNIVERSE: Psst, Cheeta...I think Christmas is coming on soon.

This year goes somewhat like this...

ME: Hmm, what? Can you repeat that please, I think I missed it.


The thing is that I generally spend the whole of December with my parents and my church buddies, attending an endless stream of plays, dinners, concerts and parties, including iconic and anticipated events like the Christmas Pantomime by the Little Theatre, the outdoor carol concert at the MCC grounds for two evenings straight, Carols by Candlelight, Nine Lessons and Carols in church, and the famous carol rounds - to name a few. To crown it all, I do my best to attend both the midnight and the morning services on both Christmas and New Year, just so I make sure I see and wish everyone possible. I put a lot of thought into my clothes every year, and make sure I wear something interesting that is NOT a sari (because everyone else wears one). And most of all, the people I spend Christmas with keep the true meaning and significance of Christmas in sight, whereas here it seems to be almost solely about Santa and reindeers and trees and presents, which is all very well and good and fun, but not actually what Christmas is. They should be the subtext, not the meaning, but here the roles seem to have been reversed. 

I just can't wait to see a familiar face from St. Andrew's...Anisha, here I come! And when I get back, I need to find a good church hopefully somewhat similar to mine at home, and make some friends there to talk about Christian things with, or I'm totally going to lose my thread and float away into the darkness. Except less dramatically. I miss my church and the people in it so much. I haven't missed a single Sunday for years, but since I came here, I haven't had the heart to search very hard for a new church...I think because I'm so attached to my own, where I've been all my life, my comfort zone, where I know everyone and everyone knows me, and I have my own little family of dogs in the grounds.It was not just my place of worship, in a way it was my family, and the people in it helped me to stay grounded, and I never really realised it because I'm so independent, but now that they're not so easily within reach anymore...I'm on my own and losing ground. Sigh. I haven't suffered from homesickness, but I hope I can spend my next Christmas back home. Meanwhile, I need to pick my spirits (especially my Christmas spirit) up, dust them off, give them a strong dose of brandy or some similar beverage, get my backside off this chair and go shopping for presents and a Christmas outfit - it's the 21st and I have just the vaguest idea of what to wear. And this year, I'm going to blend with the crowd, and not more than 3 people are going to know my name. But then again, that's not what important or what Christmas is all about, is it? :-)

Joy to the world.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


So, I procrastinated a little where my NI number was concerned, and then when I finally got it, a CV had to be prepared, etc etc etc, you get the picture, and now people tell me that applications for all the easy-to-get Christmas jobs are closed. Oops. So since then, I've been victim to a belated fit of productivity, having belatedly realised that it would be quicker to surf around on the web a little and then think hard for one hour rather than sit around waiting for people to help me. I finally set up and installed my printer, printed out a stack of CVs and spent half a day wandering around the city centre, walking into stores and asking if they had any vacancies. Many places were full already, but a few took my CV and said they'd get back to me when they had vacancies in Jan (sob! Must...have...Christmas...job!) and Borders actually told me it'd be smarter to apply at the end of December when people were leaving and they would need replacements. Primark of course has probably recieved 6 billion applications from uni students seeking holiday income, so I'm really not counting on that.

A couple of places seemed promising. I printed out the application forms for Next and Oasis and filled them in...Next seems like a bit of a lucky draw really, because you just dump the forms into a huge postbox-like thing and I really wonder if they read them all (sure hope they do though!) but Oasis not only told me that they had a vacancy, but were very nice to me as well, and checked what times I'd be available, etc. I would be so, so happy if I got a chance to work there, the work ethic and the other employees are great, and it's a smaller store so I'd be able to gain some experience in a less stressful manner than if I was working for a huge place like, say, Primark (though I'll take what I get at this point, I'm really not going to be too picky).

Working here is very different from back home in actually have half a chance of landing a decent part-time job as a student, for example, and you get paid pretty well...enough to live on. I cannot imagine this ever happening in Chennai, or indeed anywhere in India...for one there are way more people than jobs, for another, everyone's looking at how many degrees you have and how fancy they are, and whether you have a US or UK degree (well, now I will...ha ha). With all this, and the craze for hiring 'experienced' people, it's a miracle I actually bumped into my previous boss and benefactor (in the form of my singing teacher) who hired me for a good job because she wanted to help out a fresher and help them grow and develop (who does that anymore?) 

Over here, it's one has any issues with hiring someone right out of school, and indeed if you are overqualified a schoolkid could easily edge you out, because apparently no one likes overqualified people. To my great surprise, I for once am overqualified for something, and so have had to water down my CV a great deal and occasionally knock out my first BA. And of course, where previous jobs are concerned, I definitely cannot put down my last job title (which was admittedly much fancier than my job, and which I did not live up to in any sense of the word) because 'Business Development Executive and Creative Consultant' sounds like I'm 35, professional and more suited to an office environment than bagging clothes and giving people change (which is what I desperately want to do at this point).

Anyway, the weekend has been spent walking around the city centre all by my lonesome, seeking jobs, dropping off application forms and in the case of today, hunting for boots. Very enjoyable it has all been. And I am now plus a few shreds of hope and a full set of thermals, purchased today post form-dropping, so I'm fairly pleased. Tomorrow, Marks&Spencers phone application! Sigh. Wherever I start working, I would love to end up working for Marks&Spencer. Would be even more awesome to start there, but well, one can't have everything.

Wish me luck though! Prayers, positive vibes and good wishes much appreciated. Toodles.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Another week, another post.

So, it's been just another week. Yawn. Actually, it's been less eventful than most weeks, considering I attended less class than usual (ahem...this was not entirely my fault) and nothing very eventful happened except...


Oh my GAWD. I have been waiting for this, and making attemps to buy this, for two months now. TWO MONTHS. And now I HAVE IT. Happy does not even begin to express it. I was afraid to get too excited until the purchase had actually been made...this was not helped by the card reader acting up at the store...and once I actually had it in my hands, I sat down on a bench, held it in my arms, and spaced out for about five minutes, going 'mmmm' and staring into the distance with what was probably a very vacant expression. Then I called my parents in India, woke them up in the middle of the night, and squeaked away in a voice that was probably several octaves above normal. 


Heeheeheehee I have a laptop...eeeeeeee. Okay I will grow up now. But. Eeeek. It's so beautiful. And shiny. And I like it ever so much more than the old Macbook Pro, though I do wish they'd kept it either entirely silver or entirely black. AND I got a free printer, or well, rather a printer I'm going to get reimbursed for. The only drawback was that the free iPod nano offer ended just a couple days before I managed to buy it. I was supposed to give it to my friend, who's been listening to me whine about my lack of laptop and letting me make endless calls to Apple on his phone and endless email checks on his laptop for two months. So much patience. I think he should at least have got the nano after all the trouble he took for me...I even had to transfer the money to his account and buy it with his card. It's still sinking Mmmm. :) This post is going to be slightly incoherent, put it down to internal excitement.

What made it even better was the fact that we went out for dinner to celebrate and I had Chinese/Japanese food for the first time since coming to the UK :) Sure, I ended up spending quite a lot, but it was so worth it. It concluded with coconut ice cream with mango sauce...MMM.

I'm saying 'mmm' quite a lot today. Hmmm. 

My friend's been working this weekend, so I've spent most of yesterday and today chilling out at home, except for some bowling last night, where I unexpectedly managed at least 4 strikes :D Today was music downloading day. I cannot believe how fast I can download stuff here. WiFi here is faster than broadband in India. I've downloaded more than 50-100 songs today. Unfortunately, I don't remember everything I used to listen to before I moved here, but I've done my best to get some of it back. And rediscovered a couple of bands I adore for good reason...most notably Casting Crowns. Best gospel rock band ever. Beautiful lyrics, and they sound just like 3 Doors Down, which I love too :D The only drawback is, I've been sitting in front of the laptop for most of the day, which means that my back is frozen into position and will take a while to thaw out. Ow. 

My next post will definitely be more interesting. My laptop joy is kind of blocking everything else from my mind right now. Til next time then.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I saw SNOW! Well, it's not like I haven't seen it before, but usually whenever I got there, it was already lying about on the ground, like when I visited the French alps when I was 13. Much fun was had with snow angels, sledding, falling through snow into hidden streams et al, but I never actually saw it fall out of the sky, which is what I experienced a couple of days ago.

It was utterly random...I had been expecting snowfall in Dec-Jan, for Christmas perhaps...not on Diwali! Oddly enough, my classmates and I were sitting around discussing snow, and suddenly one of them mentioned that it had been forecasted for the next day, making me jump out of my skin...and then we peeped out of the window and saw sleet, which became proper snowfall on the way home. By the time we got out of the bus, the tops of the trees, hedges and walls, not to mention the roofs of the houses, all looked like they'd been coated with sugar icing, and big flakes of snow were drifting prettily through the air like salt from the world's biggest shaker. Ooooh. I have to confess, I went totally nuts, and skipped down the middle of the street in my very inappropriate high heeled shoes and 'this-girl-was-totally-not-expecting-snow-today' outfit. I was a little busy jumping up and down trying to catch snow on my tongue, and so ignored my friend's stern injunctions to put up my hood. This, I found, was unwise. (Though fun.) I spent half the night with a fever of about 102, shivering and shaking no matter how warm it got, and effectively cancelling out our Diwali plans, which I still feel guilty about.

Before I was put out of action, though, we dressed up nice and warm, took a bus to the city centre, and wandered around aimlessly, all nice and full of post-snow excitement. I think we were hoping it would snow again, and enough to make snowballs this time, but no such luck...and we had to take refuge in the mall before we froze to death. This resulted in some very vague window shopping and a couple of pranks that really annoyed me (spoilsport that I am) and getting sicker with each passing second really did not help. By the time we finally left, my skin was still nice and warm but my bones felt like ice, and I have to confess I was really, really glad to get back home and hide under a duvet shivering...but seeing snowfall for the first time was totally worth it all. (Though I still wish I hadn't spoilt Diwali for anyone else. Have I mentioned what awesome friends I have here?)

I have no idea what sort of stupid fever that was, because it tortured me for 24 hours with dizziness and body ache and then abruptly disappeared into the dim and distant past. Let me illustrate how the morning, I was falling over when I tried to get out of bed, and in the evening I was trotting off to see Quantum of Solace with my friends like nothing ever happened. Yay. The cold is really killing, though...the weather was absolutely fine before it suddenly plunged to a couple of degrees below zero and stuck there. Memo: Must buy a cap before my ears fall off. Not to mention gloves. I DID get the coat I mentioned I was going a-hunting for, AND I got it for half price :) I love's light grey with big black buttons. Even better, it reaches just to the top of my thighs, therefore my daddy declares it cannot be warm enough and has instructed me to buy another one. I have been TOLD to buy a second coat, even though I already have one. This makes me very happy *grin* Usually, I am being TOLD not to do things like that.

Anyway, enough about the weather. The weather is known to be a very popular topic among those who have searched and searched but yet found no other topic suitable for discussion, and here I am chatting away merrily about it like it's the only thing on Earth that fascinates me (it's not.)

I was lying about at home today, attempting to watch Corpse Bride online - it took quite a few attempts, but I managed it in the end - when I recieved a mail update from our university's Christian Union. So far, I've been too chicken to go to any of the events, even though I'm pretty starved for Christian company right now...because I am a total coward when it comes to walking in randomly someplace where I don't know a soul. Of course I do have friends who'd come with me if I asked them, but so help me, I'm a little chicken about that as well. Anyway, today's update advertised a fireworks display/bonfire/barbeque happening tonight, which sounded really fun and cost only £5 a head, and I suddenly really wanted to go but was chickening out as usual. And then one of my friends online noticed something was off and asked me what was wrong and I said nah, there's just this thing and I was wondering whether to go and he said oh great, if you go let me know as well. And then I texted my other friend mentioning it and, well, I don't really have any secrets from him and he figured I'd want to go, so he was like, okay, let's leave as soon as I get home. So it looks like I might actually go after all, to this scary scary place where I do not know a soul :) although of course I will be taking known souls along with me, or rather they will be taking me. Yay. Hope it works out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

So, when I said 'occasional' I meant...

First off, I should probably clarify that my 'occasional updates on life' weren't actually intended to be this 'occasional' (ie - once in 2 months or so). I was intending to post once a week at least, but due to various and sundry complications, the most major one being my lack of a laptop - STILL - I have relegated my internet time to more important activities, like email and Facebook. Anyway, I doubt anybody's stumbled across this yet, so I needn't bother apologising :D

First, on the laptop issue. I have made a discovery, viz. that Apple hates me. To cut a long story short, I was trying to buy a Macbook Pro with a credit card I didn't have with me (though I did have the number), which meant I could only order it on the phone or on the internet rather than simply going to the store and picking it up. After many failed attempts and the unceremonious slaughter of much false hope, I discovered that unless your billing address is a UK one, they will not process your order. This, after many salespeople had promised me their superior bypassing skills, and after Apple had actually deducted more than a lakh from my mum's bank account (I hope they put it back). I have finally decided that patience is a virtue and that my best bet is to wait for my educational loan to (finally) be 100% processed and the money to be transferred, so I can take myself down to the store and purchase my laptop with a fat bundle of cash. I know that this day will come...eventually...and that I WILL possess the for now, I am being patient. (Pffft, because I have no choice.) Until then, I have a very generous friend whose laptop I am using all the time, not to mention hundreds of university Mac Pros at my disposal. Not that this means that I had sufficient time to make blog posts or anything.

In other news, I have now been in the Yoo-kay for almost 2 months and it has been a vairy interesting and instructive experience. Much fun being had, much food being eaten, good friends on all sides, superior public transport, cheap dessert and drinks, nice cold weather and shoes on sale all the freaking time, ahahahaa :D Not to mention that I love my university and my course, which is probably the most interesting one I have ever taken. Some really good professors as well. And for homeworking, assignmentdoing and general thinkifying, we have something called a Reflective Visual Journal (oooh, fancy) also known as an RVJ, which is basically sort of a big, A3-sized, glorified scrapbook, which is going to look so awesome once we're through with the module...although that is not the essential point of it, it's so the profs can look at it after we submit our final project and follow our thought process, our journey, our whatever. Awesome, I do think. I'm quite looking forward to following my thought processes as well, they generally manage to escape me entirely and I only come across them in random scraps of poetry or writing much much later...if I have any. This'll be my first visual journal. I haven't been very diligent at keeping journals in the past - though I started them with much enthusiasm - but since this one is pretty much one big piece of homework, its future looks bright. I am reminded that I was never very diligent at doing homework either, but these things can be overcome. I hope.

Speaking of overcoming things, I wonder if I will ever be able to stop the shopaholicking. Fortunately for me, over here I actually had to do a great deal of shopping since there were many essential items of clothing I required...come on, this is the coldest place I have ever lived in, it's 10 degrees outside right now. The number one item on my 'urgent' list right now is a proper overcoat. I went out in search of one yesterday, and found many similar items like fluffy, furry jackets, suede jackets with fur lining, smart short coats et al, ALL of which I wanted to buy, none of which I did. So to console myself, I bought gloves + matching scarf (which I needed) and a pair of shoes (which I did not need, but which I had coveted for ages) and rescheduled coat shopping to Monday. I will be in the company of a good friend who is older and wiser than I and who can be counted on to have my best interests at heart, so I'm reasonably sure I will come back with something functional and elegant *fingers crossed*

My friends over here seriously deserve mention. I love my friends. They're like my family, and thanks to them, I have never had a chance to feel lonely or homesick since the second I landed here...literally. I've never had so little 'alone time' in my life, and I've never missed it less. It's been fun, fun, fun, and I've learned to do many things, like cook, and use a washing machine, and grocery shop, and dance (okay, have to admit, not yet learnt that properly) and yes, many other things. The only times I've felt homesick are when I miss my church, for which I have not yet found an acceptable substitute, and then everyone has had to look on helplessly while I wail 'Oh my Gooood, I miss my chuuuurch' and shed buckets of tears. This has only happened twice though...okay, maybe thrice.

In other news, my Dad has just added me on Facebook, and I have no idea how to handle this situation -_- I had warned my parents that if they ever show up there, I'm not going to be adding them, but now that the time has come, I feel a bit bad about it, in an 'awww, poor Daddy' way. But on the other hand, Facebook is a page for your friends, not your parents, and although I don't really have anything to hide from my parents (now there's a shocker), I don't necessarily want them having access to me from the same angle as my friends do. Hmm. I think Daddy can stick to talking to me on the phone. I guess I can expect a friend request from Mum tomorrow as well. Sheesh. Whatever happened to FB being a college networking place?

Oh well, this calls for a good lunch. And some cheesecake, mmm. 'Til the next 'occasion' then.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


So, now that I'm going off abroad and all, I decided to blog - which is the easier option. The other option is sending out at least 5-6 emails a day all containing the same news. Yawn. I don't think so. If you recieve emails from me, you are:

a) A privileged person receiving information other people are not.
b) I don't want to give you my blog URL. Which means you will not be reading this. Okbye.

Yes. So I remembered I had a perfectly good blog with a URL I rather fancied (candied charcoal. Awww). So rather than having to sit and think up another name I fancy just as much (which would take a long time, and by then, knowing me, I'd have lost interest) I just logged on, deleted all my 2 year old, teenage-angst-ridden posts - this used to be my private sekrit anonymous blog - and decided to commence renovations.

Since I am going off to a brand-new (to me) country and all, I'm sure I will have many many interesting and instructive things to blog about (well, i&i to me. The rest of you will just have to trawl through my posts to find out things you want to know).

I'm off to pack. Later :-)