Friday, 29 May 2009

Time again for another post.

I've been home for just under three weeks and I guess I'm about as settled as I'm going to get. I've mostly done a whole lot of nothing since I've been back, but that's certainly not a bad thing. I've been sleeping till 9:30 or 10:30, having a slow morning, and lounging all afternoon. My parents nap for a bit and then my dad heads back to work and my mum keeps napping. I've been watching tv, reading, trying not to fall asleep and, recently, playing my guitar.

It's taking a while to get used to being part of a family again. I have become used to the autonomy that comes with university life where I can do whatever I want. It's a bit odd having to choreograph my life so that it fits in with the lives around me. There are a million subtle and some less subtle changes that I have to get used to. I have to admit that I miss the somewhat indifferent comfort that comes with independence and having one's own space.

But don't get the wrong idea. It's great to be home. I don't have to cook, I get to sit around and do nothing all day, I don't have any bills to pay, or a job to go to, and I don't have any homework!

Oh! And as of 5 days ago, I have puppies! Technically. Right now my dog has crawled deep into the hedge between my house and the neighbour, has delivered her puppies in there. And, apart from coming out for meals, she's refused to show her face. My mum is convinced that she'll bring them out on her own, but I have a feeling she might be a bit more reluctant. The other problem is that if she does bring them out on her own, we'll have no idea if she's brought them all or not since we have no idea how many she's had. There must be an instinctive need to deliver babies in secrecy and since Shades (our dog) is allowed to wander, she's taken full advantage of her freedom. This is her second litter and she's getting fixed after this one. She's a good mum though and her last litter of puppies was gorgeous, so I expect this lot will be too.

My guitar playing is coming along well. I've now learned 'Horse With No Name' (America) and 'Orange Sky' (Alexi Murdoch) though I'm having a really hard time putting the singing together with the playing. So far my dad has played only a minimal role in my tutoring. It's good though because if he was more interested, he might nag me more about it, too. For now, the internet is proving an excellent tool and I'm getting along just fine. I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable with my guitar and learning new things is getting easier. I'm also developing healthy calouses on the tips of my fingers which is an excellent sign.

My reading has not progressed as well as I would like. 'The Brothers Karamazov' (Dostoyevsky), my current project, is proving quite difficult. It's a slow, difficult book and if I tackle it on it's own, it'll be three months before I can start another one. So instead, I'm going to try and read more than one book at a time. I've never done that before, but a lot of people do, so I don't see why I can't either. The book I'm starting today is called 'My Dream of You' by Nuala O'Faolain. It's "a grand achievement of storytelling", according to USA Today. I'll let you know. I'll also start another reading list like I did for last summer. I've already read more since the end of classes than I did the whole of last summer, despite my long break from reading the last three weeks.

Another small joy in my life is that cricket is over for a while. The Indian Cricket Council (ICC) started something called the Indian Premiere League (IPL) which uses a new, short version of cricket that was recently created. Each match takes about 3 hours instead of a whole day (the previous 'short' version) or 5 days (the long version). What it meant, though, was that there were at least two matches on every night. Between the night I arrived in Chennai on the 8th and last Sunday night, there was not a single day that went by when I didn't watch cricket. My only options were to sit alone in my room and entertain myself, or watch cricket with my mum and dad. So I watched cricket. The final was last Sunday and I couldn't be happier that the cricket is over. The World Cup for this short version of the game is starting soon, but I think I'm going to appeal for a ban on all matches other than the ones that India's playing in. I think that's reasonable. I was starting to go cricket crazy.

The French Open (tennis) started a few days ago and I've been keeping an eye on that. I generally only watch Federer and Nadal's matches because they're the most interesting. I'm an absolutely loyal Federer fan but the only person who's allowed to beat him in Nadal (as far as I'm concerned). Luckily Nadal seems to be the only person capable of beating Federer, so all is well in my world of tennis. And I can't wait for Wimbledon; it's the most fantastic of all the Grand Slams.

Um. I think that's all for now. I'm going to make up that reading list, and then I have to meet a friend for coffee.

Till later ...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Home!

It's time again for my customary apology for a long silence. I have no excuse other than lethargy and the need to do absolutely nothing for a while. Much has happened since my last post and I'll try and catch everyone up.

I last wrote a few days before my last exam. The whole exam week was stressful and tiring and it was so good to be done! I started packing up my room pretty much right away. I was waiting for my passport to arrive in the mail any time that week (this was the week of the 20th of April) and so I needed to be ready to leave. In case I forgot to tell this story earlier, I had sent my passport away to get my visa renewed. It took absurdly long to get to them Consulate General in Buffalo and so it wasn't back in time for me to leave. Turns out that my passport didn't arrive till a week after I was supposed to leave. On Wednesday afternoon I had to call my airline and get my tickets changed. I was lucky and managed to find tickets for the same cost as my original ones and I only had to pay the fee that they charge to change tickets. So, instead of being home on the 25th of April, I was looking at two more weeks in Sackville and being back in India on the 8th. I was rather bummed for a while, but the thought of being in Sackville for a while longer eventually grew on me.

I moved to a friend's house to camp out till the 1st when the lease on my apartment started. I watched lots and lots of How I Met Your Mother (on DVD), read a fair amount, fiddled around with my guitar and generally appreciated having nothing to do. It was also good to be able to have some down time on my own in Sackville before I made the long trip back to India. If I had left on the 23rd, I would have been an absolute mess when I got home. Sackville was just starting to come alive again when I left. I'm not going to lie - I'll miss the summer in Sackville.

I spent one night on the couch in my apartment (on the 1st). Since I'd sub-letted my room out, I couldn't stay in my room, and all the other rooms were taken, and so I had to crash on the couch. It wasn't particularly uncomfortable, but I did feel like I was in the way since all my stuff was tucked in every corner in the living room. I didn't really like being under everyone's feet when they were all trying to get settled in the house before classes/work started. On the 2nd I moved to Andrew's house. He and his roommate Chris were just getting settled and since there were only two of them in the three-bedroom house, it meant that I didn't have to be on a couch. I helped them find furniture and odds and ends for their place and by the time I left it was starting to look like a functional house. I'm a little jealous that they have a house and we only have an apartment, but each has its own advantages. I was there till the 7th morning.

At 9:30 I got on the bus to Halifax with my one suitcase, my guitar, a backpack, and my sling-bag, and I began what turned out to be a long and very exhausting trip to India. I got to Halifax at 12:30 in the afternoon and had to wait there for 6 hours. At 3:00 I was able to check in and get rid of my suitcase and guitar. I put my guitar through 'special handling' and prayed that they would take good care of it. I watched Hancock while I waited and tried not to get too bored.

At some point I went through security when it was getting close to boarding time. I got called aside because of a pair of scissors in a pencil case that I'd forgotten about. I think they weren't sure what was setting the machine off at first because the guy there took a swab of the inside of my bag and stuck it in a little machine. It freaked me out a bit. Anyway, he found the scissors in the end and sent me on my way. I didn't have to wait too long before they started boarding and I think the flight left right on time.

It was an hour and a half to Montreal. I watched most of 'The Reader' (Cate Winslet and someone else) and got into Montreal at 7:30 pm (Sackville time). I was there long enough to have time to get something to eat and walk what seemed like a whole kilometer to the gate my next flight was leaving from. It was a big flight and they took a long time to board us. The flight left at 9:00 pm Sackville time.

It was 7 hours to Frankfurt. I watched the end of 'The Reader', 'Taken' (Liam Neeson) and most of 'Wendy and Lucy', and tried to sleep. It was 4:00 am (on the 8th) Sackville time when I got to Frankfurt. The flight disembarked at the same gate that my next flight was leaving from so I didn't have to move at all. I grabbed a seat facing out onto the airport, put on 'Concert in Central Park' (Simon and Garfunkel) on my iPod, and sat out the next hour or so that I had to wait.

My flight to Chennai left Frankfurt at 6:00 am Sackville time. It was 9 hours and 15 minutes to Chennai. I had been travelling for over 24 hours with very little (negligible) sleep. It was 3:15 pm Sackville time when I arrived in Chennai. On the flight I watched Slumdog Millionaire again, had a little more success sleeping, chatted with the guy sitting next to me, and read my book. Mostly I wanted to freak out a little bit because I was tired of sitting, my legs were cramped (I can't even to begin to imagine what kind of torture flying is for Nathan at his incredible height of 6'8"), and I just wanted to get home.

The flight arrived on time and it took me about an hour to get through security. They were screening for Swine Flu and so it took a bit longer than I expected. I waited what felt like an age for my luggage. I was certain that someone had goofed and it hadn't come all the way through from Halifax to Chennai. Just when I was starting to get worried my suitcase came out. I was watching the baggage thing and fearing for the safety of my guitar. They had the conveyor belt that goes around, but there was this other conveyor that was literally dumping bags from a height of about three feet onto the conveyor belt below. Thankfully I didn't see my guitar get dumped out because it would have horrified me but it finally came around as well, and wasn't too battered.

It was about 4:15 pm Sackville time when I went out and met my parents. It was great to see them and it wasn't nearly as emotional a reunion as I thought it might have been. We got a cab back to the hotel and stayed up and talked for quite a long while. I wasn't tired and I think they stayed up for my sake. It was 6:30 pm in Sackville when we went to sleep. We were up at 12:00 midnight Sackville time; it was 8:30 am in India. Our train left at 12:20 pm India time which was 3:50 am in Sackville (on the 9th). It was about 7 hours to the stop where our taxi was meeting us. That made it 10:50 am in Sackville. I had been travelling for 48 hours. We made a quick detour to visit family friends who live very close to the train station (they had told my parents that they absolutely HAD to bring me to see them before we drove up the hill to Kodai). We stopped for dinner half way home, and we walked in the front door at about midnight India time. It was 3:30 pm in Sackville.

That was my trip: three flights, five movies, 54 hours of travel, and 12,706 km. I'm finally home. I left 20 months ago.

I haven't left the house since we got here. I've been reading and talking to my parents, and getting used to being back at home and part of a family again. I'm going out to visit family friends this afternoon. I might venture into town tomorrow.

That's all for now. More of my summer plans later.