Live Your Life

As I head back to Leeds on the train again, I reflect on how I spent the last few days in my home city, London. I use train journeys as a golden opportunity to recollect the good memories we made at home. It’s always something I can come back to.

I hadn’t been at home in just over two months, and hadn’t seen my family since I did my exam. It was nice to actually spend a few days with them, not just a weekend. In addition to getting a hair cut, I took the opportunity to meet my cousins. A couple came over to see us and I met up with a close one in the city.

I always enjoy going to central London, and this trip was no different. I love the fact that it’s literally a 30 minute trip on the Underground to get there. I met my cousin at around 5pm in London Bridge, at a fresh Italian Pasta restaurant called Padella. Despite the early dinner and neither of us being particularly hungry, we somehow managed to consume 3 pasta dishes, a chocolate torte and a bottle of Prosecco between us! I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

After having our meal, we walked across the city centre. Starting at Borough Market, we made our way along the River Thames and passed many London landmarks-Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal National Theatre, London television centre, the London Eye, Sea life London Aquarium, Dungeons and Dragons, skateboarding sites, the list was endless. Streaks of sunlight were seeping through the clouds still, yet nobody was cold. Everybody looked happy and was in a good mood. We said our goodbyes on London Bridge at around 8.30pm and we went home our separate ways. My understanding is that the London terrorist attacks took place two hours later.

The following morning, after waking up to numerous Whatsapp messages to check people were safe, I went to a barbeque my sister was organising for me and my parents. We were joined by one of my old family friends who I hadn’t seen in almost a year, and her American cousin who I briefly met at my sister’s wedding. I won’t lie, I thought I had felt a little awkwardness between us, maybe because I hadn’t seen her in a long time or maybe because they were guests. However I think it settled…my sister showed us wedding videos (some of them I knew I’d seen before) and we chatted again like old times.

After the barbeque, we drove to my friend’s house where she was staying with her parents, whilst she was back in England. Her house always reminded me of happy childhood memories and the days we used to hang out there. Her cousin was a medical student and talked about the medical school system. He also invited me to come to America. Yay! My first American friend! It was even more lovely seeing her parents again. Her father is a retired GP and I had the utmost respect for him. He had a very good work ethic which my mother always talked about when I was younger, and I’d like to think  that he was proud of me. Hilariously he exclaimed, “ahh Chitra, you look like a 10 year old!”, and we had an energetic conversation. We talked about the hospitals I worked in and he was happy that I can do LPs, (lumbar punctures), stating “yes, you’re a doctor”.

I definitely enjoyed my time in London, I always do. I love trying to make time to see old friends and family, because I want to be reminded of my roots when I tend to forget them. This trip back to London will probably stick to me more, because of what happened in London Bridge. Last time I met up with my cousin was around Christmas time last year. We met up later in the evening and I came home later. What if we decided to meet up at a similar time this year? It’s almost terrifying to think that, and I did lay awake that night thinking about what could have happened.

My mum mentioned that I should stop going to central London often (as if I go often!), and brought up many a time, how I encouraged her to take trips there that very evening, before we heard the news. But really, should something like this stop us from carrying on with normal life? According to her, it almost felt like she believed that. Yes maybe I’ll be a little cautious, but I won’t be living in fear. We have a life to live and we should live it.

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Summer breeze makes me feel fine

What better way to spend the hottest day of the year, in a September since 1911, than taking a trip down to central London. Following my last blog post, I decided to take the first step of connecting to my primal part…by going to the British Museum.

In just over one hour (which includes a 20 minute walk to the nearest tube station from home), I arrived at the museum, and almost instantly it took my breath away. Not just because of its beautiful architecture, but because of its abundance in ancient history. I had only been there once before on a school trip, when I was 10, a lot of which I unfortunately don’t remember. Maybe I didn’t appreciate it so much back then. I do however recall one memory, which was when I realised that I didn’t have enough money, to buy a mummy tin pencil case!

Wearing my mother’s summer dress which she had never wore before at my age, I felt like an explorer in the museum,  searching for answers, like Evelyn from the Mummy. I must have read every single description of the Egyptian remains displayed in the museum, taking as many pictures as my phone could hold, of artefacts and texts I want to remember and refer to. After a quick spot of lunch in the museum cafe, I retreated to the gift shops. I bought a Collins Gem book on ancient Egypt which cost less than a fiver, an Egyptian key ring for my keys, a pharaoh fridge magnet for my parents (they love collecting magnets) and a book for my boyfriend on Marcus Aurelius called Meditations…a book on my reading  list also. I even found on display the book I had bought a few weeks ago on Egyptian Hieroglyphs (!). I have now taken this as a sign also, that I must start reading this book, I must learn the language.

Having spent the majority of my afternoon in the museum, I decided to make my way to St James Park, to enjoy the late afternoon/evening sun. I walked across the park to find the perfect spot, to sit on the grass, listen to my music and read my book. I took great pleasure in knowing that this time was my own time, nobody could take it away from me and I could do what I want with it. I didn’t have to think about anything else other than what I was doing at that time. I could enjoy the simple things such as reading a book in the park and sipping on the orange calippo I had in my hand, which made it all the more sweeter!

I don’t really know how long I sat in the park for, and sometimes it’s nice not knowing ‘how much time you have left’. You can just enjoy your surroundings and feel it all around you. As I made my way back across the bridge, I stopped to admire what I saw ahead of me…

In the time I took this photo, I was listening to the song “Only He” a beautiful song by Andrew Lloyd Webber which was playing on my iPod shuffle. Feeling the music, breathing in the clean air and looking out into the river, I realised that I may not get this moment ever again. So I relished it. I stood upon the bridge, looked all around me, smiled to myself and felt the summer breeze.