Saturday, 26 January 2008

Far from home ...

11:40 am on Saturday morning. It’s absolutely gorgeous out … -17°C … but gorgeous. Clear golden sunlight, blue, blue sky … the kind of day that makes me wish it was summer so I could go sit outside under a tree. It’s a slightly sad feeling. I don’t quite know how to describe it but … do you know when you want something but it’s more a time or a place that you want, rather than a thing? It’s a different kind of want. If you want a thing you know what it is and, theoretically at least, you know how to get it. Wanting a time or a place is so much harder. It usually involves needing to go back in time, or forward, and that’s well … often impossible. Forward is ok because all you have to do is wait and eventually it’ll come. Back – not so much. But it’s not even how out of reach or possible or impossible the want is. It’s the nature of the want. I feel like if one wants a time or a place, one wants it deeply. Most of us want things in such a regular basis that it’s often a fleeting or insincere want. Wanting a place is deep and hard. Maybe not. Maybe none of you agree with me. But today, today I want a place and a time … and I want them with all my heart.

I don’t think I’m going home this summer. For a while that thought didn’t elicit anything more than vague regret. As of this morning, it makes me rather sad. A little bit of background info: I'm from a tiny little town called Kodaikanal in the south of India. Kodai (pronounced "Kodi") sits at 7,000 feet in a range of mountains called the Western Ghats and it's absoutely beautiful. Kodai is a gorgeous little town that I've spent the last fourteen years of my life in and, this morning, it's where my heart is. Here I am in pretty, -17°C Sackville, New Bruswick while my soul is far away on a hill in India.

People are starting to put up ads asking for sub-letters for the summer. I'm a potential sub-letter and although the thought of that made me feel pretty good not even two weeks ago, this morning it's making me achingly sad. I'm sitting here in my room on a gorgeous Saturday morning listening to my Dad's music and missing home more painfully than I've missed it since I got here. I guess I do want to go home. I've been saying that all I really want to do is stay here, sub let and apartment, work and try and start paying my own way through school if I can. And really, that is what I want to do but it's either home or here and, today, I want to be at home more than anywhere else in the world.

I'll end with pictures today. And one of my favourite songs that makes me think of my Dad and home and summer ...

I'm not a huge fan of the video, by the way, but it's the song I'm interested in - and you should be too.

And, pictures ...

There's a lake that's right in the center of town. Man-made, built by the British ... some 200 years ago, i would imagine. This is it at sunrise ... it's beautiful.

Ok so ... I've spent a lot of time sitting at the lake and one of the places I've spent the most time at is under this tree. Jonathan and I call it our tree and we've spent entire days sitting under it watching people go by and talking. And I can't believe I found a picture of it. God, it makes me sad ...

Kodai is at 7,000 feet remember? That's one of many, many, many views down to the plains ...

The hills and the clouds coming up ...

More mist. One of the things I love about Kodai, and miss lots now that I'm here, is mist. Mist that's actually cloud that, and because Kodai is so high up, we get shrouded in it. I miss mountains too. It's so damn flat here!

This is a mountain called Mount Perumal. I've hiked to the top of this hill a whole bunch of times. It's part of the logo of my school and, for a lot of people, like the lake, Mt Perumal represents everything about Kodai.

Perumal again, different view. This walkway is a place called Coaker's Walk (Coaker being some British dude, I assume) and it looks east. This is sunrise, obviously. I've been here for sunrises many, many times. The more memorable ones are the ones when Jona was with me.

Coaker's later in the day ...

This is the library at my school. This is a rather nice picture of it. And there's grass. I miss grass and warmth. My school is something that to me, represents everything that is Kodai. I love this place and all the people I knew there. I miss it.

p.s - Today is Republic Day in India. January 26th. It commemorates the day India's Constitution was put in place. This was three years after India gained its independence from the British. This picture is from my school at a place we called the Flag Green and it's where we did our flag hoistings on Republic Day and Independence Day. I miss home and my school and today is Republic Day so this picture is rather appropriate. Happy Republic day to all my Indian readers. Jai Hindh! : ) Um ... here's a couple You Tube videos of our National Anthem. It's a bit stlylized so if you want something a bit more "original" or something, the anthem is called Jana Gana Mana and you can do a search for that. Both the videos are the same except that the first one is the original music video made by the artists and such and the second one is the same soundtrack with a slide-show of pictures of India which is rather nice. It's a bit long. The artists, by the way, are the classical gurus of India, so to speak.

Anyway. That's a piece of me and where I come from. Hope you like it.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

New start, Old Habits ...

So, here’s a question: Why, no matter how hard we try and no matter how well-intentioned we are, do we fall back into the same bad habits that we claim to be trying to rid ourselves of? I’m at the end of my second week back at school and I’m right back at the state of disorder, sleep deprivation and vague panic that it took me four months to work myself into last term. It’s like my brain went: “Oh. School. Right. I know what I need to do,” and then proceeded to revert back to the state it was in right at the end of last term before the break.

In spite of the old bad habits, this semester is a chance to have a whole new start. I have new classes, new profs, new textbooks, new friends … And something that’s odd is that there’s a whole new feel to being at Mt A. I was talking to a friend about it but we couldn’t figure it out. It does feel different though. It’s neither a good new feeling nor a bad new feeling. It’s just new. And, I assume, after a while it won’t feel new any more; I’ll forget what last term felt like and this will just be how it is. Stagnation is horrible so, while change can be a little daunting sometimes, it’s always a good thing. Another thing that’s new is that I now have my own computer. Well … it’s “my own” for the next few months. Stuart, a friend of mine, got a new computer for Christmas and since he knew that I didn’t have one of my own, he offered to lend me one of his old ones. It’s really rather wonderful. Academically speaking, it makes things a lot easier because I can Google anything I don’t know or can’t figure out on my own, I can look at WebCT and Webmail and such without having to drag myself out into the cold to Dunn every time I need to check something … It also means I have Skype and I can talk to Jonathan as much as I want – for free! I can write my blogs in the comfort of my own room which is so much nicer. Generally, it’s a huge step up in life. Thank you, Stuart. You’re wonderful!

So far my New Year’s Plan seems to be doing ok, though it’s taking a little while to pick up steam. I went to SAN last night and actually had a rather decent time. We went to Dooly’s which, by the way, is really, really nice (and is actually called Uncle Larry’s), and played pool for an hour or so. I won a game. I came home and told Jonathan about it and he promptly pointed out that we’d actually played by the wrong rules and that we would have had a lot more fun if we’d played the right way. Sigh. So much for being proud of myself. Whatever. I’m generally terrible at pool and I thought it was pretty awesome. Proper rules aren’t for people who suck, anyway.

I came home after pool and listened to music and eventually (much later) went to bed. There was very loud music coming up from the Office (the first floor lounge where Friday night parties tend to take place) and there were a couple of people wrestling outside my room until 2:00 am. I had to go out and kindly request them to desist. Otherwise it was fine. I slept well.

This morning was nice. I woke up early-ish and decided to go back to sleep. I woke up a few more times and finally got out of bed at 9:45. My alarm was set for 10:00 but I hate waking up to my alarm and I didn’t end up needing that much sleep anyway. I got up, put on music, had a shower, cleaned and I’m currently doing laundry. After all the rain yesterday and the inevitable sub-zero temperatures last night, I didn’t want to venture out into the ice and so I stayed here and made myself pancakes and coffee. Pleasant morning, all in all.

It’s almost 2:00 and I haven’t done any work yet. This is a problem; I have an insanely large pile of things to do. I’m going to get started. Fight the good fight, you know. And, you know what? I’m going to share something with you. This is the theme of Indiana Jones (by John Williams) and, thanks to Nathan, it is also the theme song of my academic life at Mt A. You'll see that it makes sense. It has purpose and this air of adventure and excitement. It's just the thing one needs before starting some horribly dreary assignment or something. I think it provides just that little extra will power one always seems to lack. Anyway, here you are:

Until next week ... Peace out. : )

p.s I’d just like to make an addendum to last week’s post: While what I said may have suggested that Christina is a tyrant and I live in perpetual fear of her, she is, in fact, rather wonderful and I was only teasing. This is just for all of you to know. Christina knows already.

Friday, 4 January 2008

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for so long. The plan was to have a computer over the break but that didn’t work out and, as a result, I wasn’t blogging. I hope to be able to catch you up with all that has happened since I last wrote and, now that we’re getting back to school, I shall be back to my weekly blogging. I promise.

To begin with: Happy New Year to everyone; I hope 2008 is a wonderful year for all of you.

I didn't start this year off with a list of resolutions. I decided a long time ago that resolutions aren't the way to go; they’re like making promises that are easy to break. And promises shouldn’t be broken lightly. Instead, I have a plan. My plan is: I will do everything I can to not make the same academic mistakes I made last semester. I'm going to get involved in all the things I only gave a half-hearted commitment to before. I’m not going to lock myself out of my room more than three times because it drives Christina (my RA) nuts and I really like her and she scares me when she yells. And I’m not going to stress myself out. Of course, this isn’t a plan to be perfect because perfect is fairly impossible. But it is a plan to try and to do right by people to whom I owe that. So yes, that’s the plan. There are other miscellaneous odds and ends but that’s the heart of it. The key thing is especially important. : )

Now for the update: This Christmas my brother (Arjun) and my boyfriend (Jonathan) came from the US (Arjun from Florida and Jonathan from San Francisco) to be with me here in Sackville. I have a friend who lives off campus and she and her two roommates were going home for the break and she offered me her house. On the 20th of December, the day after my last exam, Arjun and I moved from Thornton to 2A Estabrooks. We barely had time to sit down before I had to leave to catch the bus from here to Halifax to pick up Jonathan from the airport. I got there and spent six hours reading and listening to music and writing a letter to my parents and then, when it was finally announced that his flight had landed, I went and stood at the arrivals gate and waited and waited and he didn’t show up. When I was getting confused and a little worried I get a call on my cell phone and Jonathan says he’s already picked up his bags and is waiting for me somewhere totally different. So much for that. So much for the dramatic and long-awaited moment when I’d see him coming down the stairs and be bursting with happiness. No such thing. It’s fine though. It was enough just to be with him again. Luckily, instead of having to spend the night in a hotel in Halifax, I bumped into some friends from school who were also there to pick up a friend and we drove back to Sackville with them the same night. Everything was good after that.

Yesterday I met a friend of mine and I asked him how his break was. He said that he had a great time being at home with his brothers and not having to cook or wash dishes (he lives off campus). He asked me how my break was and I told him about my family being with me and then, with a big smile, I said, “It was great. We got to cook and wash dishes ...” The normality of a real house, a real life was incredible. It was so good that three such distanced lives got to be one life, even if it was only for a little while. It was the best Christmas I’ve had in a long time. I love Christmases at home but in this context it was the most I could have asked for and I got it. It was perfect.

Arjun left on the first day of classes (Monday) and Jonathan left on Wednesday. It was hard to see them go and now it’s hard without them. Before they arrived, Sackville was never a place where I had places and people and things remind me of them. But now that they’ve been here and shared this world with me, it seems normal that they should be here. And they’re not. And that’s ok. It’s not really ok, but it’s not impossible. We start the plod again. I feel recharged and recovered from last term. I feel ready and strong enough to deal with everything that’s coming my way.

So. Happy New Year to all of you. Happy New Year to me. It’s going to be good.