United Kingdom

Sunny Brighton

Before I start gushing about the amazing time I had in Brighton, let me just put it out there that my travel buddy and I are starting to make a habit out of cutting it very close when it comes to boarding trains. As exciting as it is, to race against time and make it to the station with minutes to spare, I’m really hoping, this trend of ours, ends soon.

Unsurprisingly, Arv and I made it just in the nick of time when it came to boarding the train. An empty carriage and hushed conversations helped calm our pounding heartbeats as we sat down, sweaty and out of breath. Time passed peacefully and within an hour, our train was pulling into Brighton station. From there, a quick two minute journey had us arriving at Hove where Arv’s absolutely adorable grandmother was kind enough to be our host during our time there.

Being utterly oblivious at times, I was so busy pushing my ticket into the machine to get the doors to open, that I did not notice Helen waiting for us until I saw Arv hunched over, enveloping her in his arms. Not having met Helen before didn’t seem at all awkward or weird, she made me feel so welcome, I couldn’t stop smiling!

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Arv, who sort of looks like Wolverine here and his Nana, Helen.

She was such a bundle of positivity, energy and love, I felt at home immediately. She drove us to her place where we had amazingly healthy food along with delicious Camomile tea although we had been warned beforehand by her that cooking food was not her forte and she did not enjoy it one bit!

One of the many things I enjoyed about my time with Helen included listening to her life travels and her interactions with people. Besides this, her house finally fulfilled and brought to life, my long harboured imagination of what a proper British house looked like, thanks to the countless books I read, written by Enid Blyton. She is also one of the coolest women I have ever come across. I absolutely adored her joie de vivre when we decided on a selfie. To be perfectly honest, she looked the most glamorous out of all of us in it!

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With the sun beaming down on us, my friend and I headed out to Brighton Pier having said goodbye to Helen and having planned a quick meet up before our train back to London. Before all this happened though, I got to witness Arv and Helen scrutinising maps of Brighton. This was because despite living in a world of gizmos and gadgets, ours failed us. Between Arv and me, we had three mobiles, all of which refused to function and decided to die due to lack of battery.

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While walking along the beach, I got to witness buskers of immense talent entertaining the multitudes of people who had stepped out of their houses to enjoy the sun and take a dip in the sea. With the sea water glimmering, ice cream cones everywhere and squeals of delight echoing from all sides, we approached Brighton Pier with a lot of excitement.

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Street buskers; Three men sitting absolutely still, balanced on soft balls held in one hand.

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As Meredith Grey once said, ‘The carousel never stops turning.’

Having entered Brighton Pier, the competitive gamers in my friend and me awakened and we headed to the arcade with steely determination. Maybe it was because I was still exhausted from work or it just wasn’t my day, I lost every single game to my friend. For someone as competitive as me, this was quite a heavy blow and my friend didn’t make things easier. It took all my will power not to push him over the railing of the pier as punishment for reminding me of my defeat, every single chance he got.

We took a break from the games from time to time, stepping out to enjoy the salty air and the sound of crashing waves, drowned by the laughter that flooded me from everywhere.

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We then headed to Palm Court for lunch since Arv was in the mood for Fish and Chips. For someone as healthy as him, it was quite a surprise for me to witness him cleaning up a gigantic plate of deep fried fish and fries or as the British like to call it, chips. I decided on Mashed Potatoes with a Pie made out of mackerel, shrimps, peas and salmon. It was delicious but for someone like me who is very picky about her sea food, it was quite…fishy.

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We then walked around the Pavilion, deciding against entering it, wishing to enjoy the weather rather than feeling jealous strolling through the pleasure palace for George IV. The pavilion was beautiful though. With a wonderful combination of Indian and Oriental architecture and a very picturesque location, the pavilion is something everyone headed to Brighton must visit even if, like us, you decide against entering it.

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With time running out, we decided to walk towards the station and enjoy whatever Brighton had to offer on our way to it. Our walk was quite the enjoyable one with a sea gull almost raking Arv and my skulls as it flew over our heads. We also walked through a vintage market that had a concert/gathering going on. The heady scent of incense sticks and vintage collections on display in the market, made for quite a fun experience.

Just when I was about to point out to my friend that I had not come across any street art, walls upon walls of street art appeared before us. Here are my favourites!

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It seemed our competitive nature had not yet been satiated since Arv decided to race me up the stairs to the platform. He duped me though! While I raced up, he casually set his pace, climbing the stairs one at a time. Just when I thought he wasn’t actually racing and stopped sprinting, he made a sudden dash for it and won.

No worries though my lovely Mavericks, I got my revenge later on.

Soon, we reached the station where we met Helen. She handed us a bag full of goodies for our journey back home which was so incredibly sweet of her! Having said our final goodbyes, we boarded an extremely crowded train and spent most of the journey, standing or rather dozing off, leaning on each other, the heat and exhaustion from our long walk, finally getting to us.

Coming back to my Brighton tale, remember when I said, I got my revenge on Arv? Well, my friend, who refused to adhere to the phrase, ‘Let the girl win’ got a taste of his own medicine when we decided to race from the tube station back home. From the minute we got off the tube, the race began. The first to touch the door of the house would be the ultimate champion and I can proudly say, it was yours truly despite Arv downing a double espresso for the sole purpose of winning the race.

The victory was made sweeter by the fact that my friend is actually a runner, who participates in marathons while I shamelessly give him the most judgemental looks for participating in them.

Anyway, that my lovely Mavericks, brings this travelogue to a close. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed reliving it while penning down this fond memory.

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Oxford Moments

It’s funny how life works.
Having huffed and puffed about the stagnancy and boorish routine I had somehow found myself settled into, writing on this platform was just not happening.

I was seriously considering deleting this blog because I had turned it into a ranting stage. It didn’t bode well with me and I thought it’d be better to say farewell to this piece of me while it still had something good left in it.

Just then, a friend of mine stepped in and suggested visiting Oxford. It was not just a brilliant idea but also a break both of us agreed we needed, since we had both had quite exhausting weeks lately.

That being said, come Sunday, I arrived bright and early at Paddington station, excited to be visiting the quaint town of Oxford. Surprisingly, my friend who is ALWAYS on time, decided Sunday was the day to rely on wrong travelling information and cut it very fine when it came to boarding the train.

We made it though. At 8 sharp, the train departed and we were off !

Upon arriving, I was made aware of the fact that we had no itinerary planned which in the end turned out to be the right decision cause wandering around, discovering alleyways and sharing moments with friends, is on any given day, much better!

We started off by visiting the Mound. Although we decided against going all the way to the top, we did walk through a small alley that reminded me of descriptions in novels by Charles Dickens, rekindling a love within me, I feel I had forgotten.

Before delving deeper, apologies before hand if I don’t accurately label all the places we visited. Amidst laughter, conversations and simply taking in the view, I think retaining names was far down below on the priority list.

My friend, being the giant he is, took the lead most of the time. It was better that way because Mr. Big Feet wasn’t the best at reading Google Maps and more often than not realised the fact that we were headed in the wrong direction 200 metres after. This way, he walked more than me and my short limbs had some respite from time to time.

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We headed to Christ College but were turned away since opening hours began mid afternoon. Lost, we turned around and continued walking aimlessly but not without some beautiful sights!

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Somehow we found ourselves entering the Oxford University Museum of Natural History where we grabbed a small snack and somehow got into a very excited conversation about men instigating snakes into swallowing them.

We’re fascinating people, aren’t we?

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During our little break from touring, we got in touch with our mutual friends residing in Oxford and we decided to meet up within the coming hours.

The real sightseeing began after we all met up and it was so entertaining!

We visited quite a few colleges and also got to take in the epic staircase where Harry Potter was made to wait when he first walked through Hogwarts, just before he got sorted!

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Stained windows of cathedrals and ornately designed high arches, as I have mentioned countless times before, have always fascinated me. Needless to say, my camera roll was flooded with them.

All the walking had the men feeling hungry, so we stopped at a cafe where I had one of my infamous moments. Having not paid attention to what the others were ordering, I squealed in delight and shock when one of them asked me what chocolate I wanted.

Here are the reasons for my extreme delight:

  • Extreme sweet tooth
  • It’s chocolate. Excitement is a must.

The sudden quiet that settled had me very confused. That was until the man at the counter cleared the air. Apparently, you get a chocolate cookie free with your drink. So my friend wasn’t actually being nice or making a sweet gesture.

To be honest, I have had so many incidents of this sort, besides my nostrils flaring in embarrassment, I don’t think much else happened.

We then walked by the canal and after one too many uncertain and hesitant answers, decided against punting. Having done a poor job at hiding our exhaustion, we decided to take a break and just relax, soaking in the sun that was not supposed to be out at all! I think had we not, my feet would have bled into the soles of my shoes and my shoulders would have snapped.

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We then started back for home and made it just in the nick of time. Two achievements made during our little sprint to the station included  my running skills being acknowledged and the acceptance (I believe women all over the world will appreciate this one) that I, as a woman, am always right and my friend (who’s a guy) is always wrong. Hah!

All in all, the day was such a blessing and comfort. It made for not just great memories that are still echoing laughter but also for a relaxation of the soul, something that was dearly needed. So the trip was a definite win.

Signing off with a picture of us with our wonderful guides.

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From left to right: Yours truly, Arv, Debasmita and Emile.

Till then Mavericks!

Discovering York

Despite us hitting the sack early enough, (It is considered early when nocturnal humans like us doze off by 1 at night) after our adventures from the previous day (which you can read about, HERE) none of us woke up before 11 in the morning the next day. After failed attempts at getting in touch with Alex, we decided to freshen up and head out for a quick breakfast at McDonalds.

I know, so very touristy of us.

As we headed out, unaware of where to find the nearest McDonalds, our trusted Google Maps came in handy. Not only did it lead us towards our food destination but it also allowed us to see a bit more of York albeit with a grey and cloudy sky as the backdrop.

Just as we caught sight of the fast food chain, we had a change of heart and headed towards a pretty in pink cafe that served High Tea.

The cafe was called Bullivan of York and I would definitely recommend it to anyone headed to York. With pastel pink walls and delicately painted porcelain tea pots and cups, lavender hanging from one side of the wall and water paintings decorating the other side, the cafe oozes coziness.

Sullivan of York

While I chose the Cranberry Sauce and Chicken Sandwiches, Mary decided on a Chocolate Scone with Chocolate Cream and a Chocolate Milkshake and Dipa went for the Traditional (Vegetarian) English Breakfast.

Cranberry Sauce And Chicken Sandwiches

Chocolate Scone with Chocolate Cream.

Traditional (Vegetarian) English Breakfast.

Our appetites satiated, we headed out to see more of York. By this time, the sun had decided to come pay a visit which was wonderful since it made our little tour around York brighter and more delightful.

We headed out to visit the York Minster which was basking in its ancient glory and soaking up the sun just like we were.

York Minster

As we walked around, we stumbled across some beautiful sights. It was a treat for the eyes to see such a burst of colours in the landscape of York. I have to say, the winding alleys and roads of York along with the picturesque landscape it is situated in, is one of the many reasons I love the British terrain and its towns.

Dipa who quite enjoys visiting churches and being surrounded by the peace and calm the churches provide, had us following her into one such Church.

Having spent a few minutes taking in the calm and tranquility of the church, we then headed back to the Museum Gardens to soak up the sun and just relax. Once the bugs started to bite and Dipa and Mary screamed one too many times about spiders, we decided to go visit Clifford’s Tower which is all that is left of the York Castle.

Clifford’s Tower.

Funny story while we’re at it. Upon coming across Clifford’s Tower, none of us could fine a way to climb all the way up. So I ran up having noticed grooves trailing all the way to the top of the hill. Just as I reached the top, panting for breath, Dipa and Mary found the staircase. If it hadn’t been for our wonderful observation skills and my lack of patience, I would not have been gasping and gulping down water.

(Note to self: Get back into shape)

We then walked inside only to be enveloped by the history of the castle and the story it housed within its circular walls.

Once we wandered around and had read up on the parchments of information plastered all over the walls of the Tower, we decided to go up to enjoy the view from the top of the tower and boy was it spectacular.

We had a beautiful view of the entirety of York and for a moment, we just stood there, taking it all in, the breeze playing with our hair, annoyingly plastering it across our faces.

( I think…THINK…I could get hired for sarcastic melancholic/poetic statements.)

We then headed for lunch, our ravenous tummies demanding we pay attention to the grumbling. We decided on Chinese food and over ate to the point that we sat there, unable to move for two hours. While Dipa and Mary wiled away the time talking, I made better use of the time and dozed off on the restaurant table for the two hours.

Hey, no one can say I don’t have my priorities in life set straight.

Soon though, it was time to check out and head to the station where we would board the train back to London.

All in all, York was a delightful break from our PhD’s and Masters and the bustling busy life in London and I am glad I got to experience the magic of this town.

From left to right; Dipa, Mary and yours truly.

Times of York

Despite living in an intercollegiate hall solely for postgraduate students, there was an exception this year and the hall was housing quite a few undergrads as well.

Of this bunch, there were a few that I became extremely close to over the course of the year and when they left, one by one, the hall became a lot more quieter, a lot less crazy and I missed it as did many others.

So…we decided to go pay one of our favourite and most adorable undergrads, Alex, a visit in his hometown, York.

We planned on spending two days and a night there. Once he found out, the excitement level went up a notch and I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive when I could run up to my Little One and wrap my arms around his bony frame.

Tickets and hotel room booked, Dipa, Mary and I set out early morning to catch our train from King’s Cross to York.

And so the journey began !

From the moment we sat in the train, our adventurous trip started, so to speak.

When it was time to get off the train, somehow, Mary and I (resident klutz’s of the hall) got locked in while the train started shunting, getting ready to depart. Dipa, oblivious to our small panicky situation, was chilling on the station with no phone or laptop. SOMEHOW, we got out and thank god we did for I had no intention of wandering around Sutherland.

Having departed the station, we walked to our hotel, to drop off our bags and wait for our taxi that would drop us off at Alex’s house.

Despite very detailed and accurate directions provided by Alex, we found ourselves lost when it came to finding his apartment. He gave up and came out to look for us only to realise, we had wandered off in the opposite direction. Once we saw each other, us three girls ran towards him and gave him a big tight hug. At that point, any passerby would have considered him to be quite the lady killer.

Think about it…two PhD students and a Masters student travel all the way from London to York to meet an undergrad. He must have some tricks up his sleeve, am I right ?

Alex’s house.

We walked into his beautifully decorated house, to be welcomed by his parents, who were so incredibly warm and nice to us.

After playing one too many games of Jungle Speed and Articulate while the food cooked (which Alex had almost ruined; he was planning on cooking lunch for us, but ‘something’ went wrong and his parents had to take over), we headed to the dining room where I got to meet and play with their adorable labradors.

The lunch was extremely delicious. It was a traditional English Sunday Roast with roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, boiled peas, carrots and gravy. I couldn’t get enough of the food. Plus, the gravy was spectacular.

Once we had cleaned up our plates, we were served dessert which I kid you not, was out of this world. It was chocolate cake served with blueberries and my oh my, I could have eaten the entire thing if I had my way.

Our bellies full of amazing food which was a welcome break from the barely edible food served at the hall, Alex gave us a tour of his house and then volunteered to show us around his town.

He took us to the Museum Gardens which had a quaint air to it with half burnt pillars of the castle still standing strong.

We then walked around and past the Ouse River and had a small glimpse of the centre of the town before being dropped off at our hotel since by then, we were quite tired.

River Ouse.

We said bye to Alex who was quite unsure if he would be able to meet us the next day.

Once in our hotel room, all three of us, without saying much, changed into our pjs, got into bed and dozed off till late evening.

Upon waking up and having shaken off the last traces of sleep, we dressed up and headed out for dinner, our appetites having woken up with us.

We decided on Kashmiri cuisine since Dipa kept insisting on it. This turned out to be a bad idea cause all the dishes we ordered were too sweet and by the end of it, we just didn’t want to eat or finish it. The food wasn’t bad, but the overt sweetness didn’t work well in our favour.

Upon leaving the restaurant, we all agreed it would be fun to go out for a midnight stroll. The sky looked spectacular with hues of blue and grey and the weather was perfect for a walk around town and thats exactly what we did.

Our midnight stroll involved some midnight goofiness with all of us climbing on top of benches decked with flower pillars.

Greek and Bong divas.

And then there’s me.

We were looking for a bar with good music to spend some time at and soon enough, found ourselves walking down the stairs of Sotano.

We seated ourselves in a basement of sorts with blues music filling the air. While Mary got herself a drink, Dipa and I chose to pass on the alcohol.

The band playing music.

After spending a good hour or so at the bar, we headed back to the hotel, very sleepy but happy with our first day in York.

We decided on waking up early, so that we could have ample time on our hands to go see more of York before catching our train and soon zonked out, our exhaustion getting the better of us.

To find out what happened next, stay tuned Mavericks!

Waterlow Park

Have you ever made plans with your friends and gushed about how very excited you are about them and then have them not happen ? It sucks doesn’t it ?

Something similar happened to my friends and me a few days ago. We had planned on visiting the Highgate Cemetery where, not only would we get to enjoy the change in landscape (since it is located in Zone 3 of London) but I would also get the chance to practice and improve my photography skills. Unfortunately upon arriving there, we realised we had to pay 4 pounds to enter. The only way to wander around and enjoy the cemetery was to pay for a private tour of it.

Luckily, right next to it was situated Waterlow Park and I am so glad it was because I had the best time taking pictures of my friends there. The park provided not just a wonderful excuse to relax by taking some time off studies but is also home to some beautiful sights.

The gates at the entrance itself were so ornate that I couldn’t help but take a picture of it. I know that there is nothing fancy about gates and there are prettier gates somewhere in the world but (call me weird) I found it pretty.

Having been extremely influenced and inspired by the amazing photography of Alessio Albi, I really wanted to try my hand at the kind of photography he is so skilled at. If any one of you are interested in his work, you can check out his Instagram account here. I intended to at least try capturing the beauty of human features against the background of nature with a contrast of light and colours influenced by seasons and elements of weather.

So, like a woman on a mission, I entered the park only to catch sight of a section of the wall dividing the cemetery and the park almost hidden by massive trees and a huge bark of wood lying on the grass like a crude bench. I looked towards Sarah who was one of my two muses for the day, and she got to work or well not, since it doesn’t take her much effort to look beautiful really.

As we walked further into the park, we came across patches off daffodils planted all round, gently swaying to the breeze that had started up. I loved the bright yellow of the flowers against the greenery and somehow I got transported back to third grade, when I helped my mum paint daffodils and cut them out to stick them in her classroom to make it more brighter and beautiful.

I know, I’ve been reminiscing quite a bit these past few blog posts.

As we were strolling around, Sarah found a spot that not only gave us an amazing view of the cemetery and some of the more intricately carved headstones but one that was surrounded by wild cherry shrubs and forsythias. Sarah very candidly pointed out that the flowers had no smell. Despite all efforts, the pictures of her smelling them weren’t that convincing and one could almost read her expression regarding the lack of fragrance except this one.

Right opposite the shrubs was a gigantic oak tree with a hollow bark and I knew I wanted to photograph it having seen countless pictures all over the web of people standing inside the trees. Unfortunately it was fenced off. That didn’t stop us though. After looking around and seeing no cops, Sarah jumped the fence and we got to work pronto ! Toothless did pull a prank on us though during this crazy stunt of ours. Just as we were letting our guard down, she screamed ‘cops’ and we nearly jumped out of our skin.

Not cool Toothless, not cool.

Just when we thought this park couldn’t get any prettier, we came across small ponds with ducks swimming around in them. It saddened me to see that some people had carelessly thrown their litter in these ponds which justified why the ponds were sealed and had fences all round them. The landscape though was so pretty with water pouring down rock terraces and flowers of various kinds growing all around.

Here are some of my absolute favourite views of the park greenery.

Toothless, who was hoping I had forgotten about my intention to photograph her, tried to camouflage with the flora but she didn’t quite succeed.

If I had to mention one thing I absolutely love about Toothless, it would have to be her smile. She has the most free and warm smile I have ever seen. One flash of it and you’ll be smiling yourself the rest of the day and no matter how bad your day was, one glimpse of that amazing smile and your day will definitely brighten up. Hopefully, I captured that amazing feature of this wonderful human being through my pictures.

I will admit, I can be picky sometimes when I want to take pictures which means I often ask my muses to do pretty weird or difficult stuff. Toothless had to suffer through this as well. Having found a very different Jungle Gym, I asked Toothless to climb on top of it so that I could have a different view. Mind you, this Jungle Gym was built out of barks of wood that were haphazardly nailed together. Climbing on top of it wasn’t the hard part. Not falling down from it was though. Toothless succeeded with flying colours. If only this was the only hard thing she had to do…

Right next to the Jungle Gym was a very unstable ‘bridge’ made out of slabs of stone. It was quite wobbly and I think the main intention of the bridge was to test your balancing skills. After a few failed attempts, Toothless crossed the bridge without stumbling or tripping. I was beaming at her like a proud momma by the end of it.

We decided on retracing our steps since we wanted to go see the ducks one more time. Only this time, we came across a different pond next to which was nestling a beautiful Weeping Willow. Toothless’s hair and the branches of the Weeping Willow made quite the contrast I feel.

As luck would have it, as we were looking for a spot where Sarah could sneakily pull her tights back on, we bumped into the most adorable puppy. He was out for an afternoon walk and he was so tired, he couldn’t stop yawning !! It didn’t help his situation when all of us couldn’t stop petting and cuddling him.

He also led us to a part of the park where small land slides had occurred and the trees that had grown there, cast extremely dark shadows. I ordered Toothless to run up one of these slides and pose for me and one of my favourite pictures of her came out from it.

Soon though it was time to leave. We trudged back towards our bus stop which let me tell wasn’t fun. The journey back was a steep trek uphill and by the end of it all of us were panting with me complaining incessantly about my back. In my defence, I was carrying a bag full of camera equipment and I had a cold.

What made the trek worth it was the view we came across just as we were exiting the alley.

It was one of the entrances to the cemetery. Despite the fact that the gates were sealed shut, we had an amazing view of it. Somehow, as I looked on, the voices all around me subdued and for a moment, I felt as though I were one with the spirits of the cemetery. I left the place with a sad smile on my face, a part of my soul mourning and praying for the souls that had left the earth and had found peace in the afterlife, even though I didn’t know them.

If someday, you plan on visiting Highgate Cemetery, take my suggestion into account. Go visit Waterlow Park as well. I bet you, you won’t be disappointed.

Till then Mavericks…

Winter Wonderland

I know this comes very late, but having been bogged down by essays, deadlines and the usual procrastination, I couldn’t find the time to pen down my experience at Winter Wonderland. Almost a month and a half later and here it is. Do excuse the delay.

Having crossed the beautifully lit place one too many times on my way to college, my friends and I finally decided on a date when we were all free and could go and enjoy all that Winter Wonderland had to offer.

Upon entering, my senses were overpowered by the smell of food wafting around, the innumerable joy rides and the people on it screaming in joy or terror and the brightly lit arena itself. With a goofy smile on my face, my friends set out to explore it.
Since my friends weren’t the most excited humans when it came to rides including the Ferris Wheel, we opted for strolling around and window shopping so to speak.

We came across numerous candy shops and each time, I found myself gaping at the assortment of candy on display until one of my friends realised I wasn’t walking alongside them and had to come drag me away. My sweet tooth was practically wailing, but since I had already decided on what I wanted to gorge on, I had to walk away. I was honestly quite impressed with my will power. Can’t say the same for my uncontrollable drooling though.

While my friends shopped for trinkets, I wondered around by myself and stumbled across some adorable sights. Some had me reminiscing about my favourite childhood stories, while others had me feeling all warm and tingly inside.

Santa Claus is coming to town !

The Nutcracker !

Angels adorning one of the Christmas trees on display.

We then headed down the lane that was surrounded on both sides by eating joints. Ranging from ales to waffles, there was no scarcity when it came to the variety.

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Found this fella trying to sell us some beer.

While Esperanza went for Nutella crepes, Esra and I decided to treat ourselves to massive chicken burgers that were too big for my mouth, stuffed with cheddar cheese, lettuce, onions, mozzarella, ketchup and a whole bunch of other ingredients that I can’t remember but my tummy does, since it started grumbling the moment I started describing it. We decided to sit down next to one of the most beautiful Christmas trees I’ve set eyes on. It was huge and decorated in nothing but silver. Seated next to it, conversations flowing, my soul was happy.

Such a beauty.

We then decided to head back since it was getting late and we had dinner plans. On our way back, we encountered the Spooky House that was being guarded by some very interesting creatures.

With the children’s shrieks in the background, our tour of the entertainment park almost finished, we came across the Ice Land. A bit too chilly for my taste, we hastened forward, but before that I couldn’t help but capture these adorable snow beings.

Nearing the end, I came across a carousel and couldn’t help but spend a few moments gazing at it. Carousel’s for me are the biggest reminders of childhood and they always get me smiling. The lights, the massive smiles on children’s faces, the soft tune that plays as it goes around, all of it fills me with a kind of peace that isn’t quite easy to explain. It provides me with a comfort that I never realise I seek until I feel it flooding me.

I left Winter Wonderland, an excited 21 year old who felt like she had gone back in time. I love amusement and theme parks and to experience this, brought back a lot of happy memories for me. The wonderful company, delicious food and the all round merriment and anticipation for Christmas made this trip all the more joyous. As we headed out of Winter Wonderland, these were my last views of it.

All of you who have had the pleasure of visiting it, I hope you had a great time and for those who couldn’t or decided not to, there’s aways next time !

Tower of London

As is well known, the Tower of London had been surrounded by more than eight hundred thousand red ceramic poppies to commemorate the First World War and all the lives that were lost in it. Titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, these poppies had been placed with utmost care all around the moat of the Tower to give the visual effect of blood pooling around the Tower and spilling from it as well.

Despite the fact that the Tower of London was one of the first places I wished to go visit when I arrived in London, I didn’t get around to doing this till about three months later. Nevertheless, on a cold grey day, my friend and I found ourselves headed there to kickstart her birthday. Unfortunately for us, the poppies that made the Tower of London all the more majestic and historic in my eyes, were slowly being removed. There were very few places where the poppies still remained. I was determined to witness at least one area of this and capture it.

My first glimpse of the Tower of London. In my eyes, the cold winter weather only added more effects to this historic place, made this monument more cold and somehow more intimidating. It never let me forget that this monument had seen the shedding of copious amounts of blood and the soil on which it was built was soaked in the dead blood of innumerable humans.

My friend and I decided to take a stroll around the Tower of London to witness it from all angles and read all the fascinating stories and facts that were inscribed into stones all around the tower.

We came across (what seemed like stone) carvings of animals very close to the entrance of the Tower marking the area where the King preferred to house his wild beasts.

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My heart was a little heavy as walked around since I could not see a single area where the poppies had once been placed. It was when we were walking across the Tower Bridge to get to the other side of the Tower of London that I saw the red poppies glinting. They were, with slow and careful precision being uprooted and placed into trolleys. Without thinking twice, I climbed onto the side of the bridge and almost hanging from the bridge while my friend held on to my legs for dear life, did I witness the soft yet powerful message of the poppies.

We continued our stroll, enjoying the slightly chilly wind that had started up. Just as we were nearing the end of our walk, we came across an entire area that was surrounded by the red poppies. Facing the Thames river, the poppies glistened in all their glory. Extremely happy and excited, my friend and I simply sat there taking it all in.

Shoreditching

After having decided on visiting Shoreditch ages ago, my absolutely gorgeous friend Sarah and I finally made a plan to head there and stroll around. My fingers had been itching to capture the street art there and Sarah wished to waltz around the vintage stores that we had heard about.
Despite sleeping extremely late and having a pseudo hangover, Sarah and I were out and about on the cold Saturday morning. Once we landed in Shoreditch, we had absolutely no idea where to head. Between discussing what we intended to do and fiddling around on Google Maps, we stumbled across the first of many brilliant street art pieces and graffiti.

Chapel not Chanel

rEVOLution.
Influenced By Russell Brand.

We rounded the alleyway we were walking through to find walls upon walls graffitied. Unfortunately there was a fence that locked us out and despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to capture much.

By this time, we had come across quite a few vintage stores. Being the absolutely horrible shopping partner that I am, I simply sat whenever and wherever I could, while Sarah found gorgeous clothes that she absolutely nailed when she tried them on. The perks of walking in and out of these stores was that we would find ourselves in new alleyways and streets each time which meant more opportunities to capture the creativity of the people of London.

After a long search, I finally found this building. Since I saw it on Google Images, I had been planning on finding this place. Oh the joy when I came across it.

I swear to God I have no idea what I was thinking when I decided to do this.

Look at this absolutely beautiful angel.

Look at this absolutely beautiful angel.

It was evening when we decided to find ourselves a quick bite. Deciding on chocolate, we found ourselves in front of London’s very own Love Lock Fence.

As we went through the multitude of locks attached to the fence, we noticed a small break in the fence which meant someone had decided to take their lock out. Somehow in that moment, my heart yearned to reach out and comfort that person who did it. After a few moments of moping around, we turned around to find this absolutely breathtaking wall painting.

This was followed by more visually appealing creations.

It was late evening when we finally came across Blitz, the ultimate vintage shop. With amazing music and a lovely customer service, Sarah and I spent our time finding clothes and accessories that we preferred. I ended up buying three novels at a very cheap cost and Sarah after mulling about it, decided not to go for the jeans she had picked. Anyone planning on visiting this store, make sure you ask for a student discount if you are one. By the time we left, darkness had settled and we decided it was time to head home. Unfortunately, we had no idea where to head because of the many twists and turns we had taken. This in a way was beneficial because we came across some amazing art that had very strong messages.

‘What you believe doesn’t have to be true.’

Don't shoot. With the nike logo, 'Just don't do it.'

Don’t shoot.
With the nike logo, ‘Don’t do it.’

As Sarah and I wondered around looking for the right bus stop, the cold had gotten to us. With our hands jammed into the pockets of our jackets, we hurriedly headed towards the bus that would take us back home. It was because of the cold that I didn’t find it in me to take my camera out of the bag and click the street art that I came across. I used my phone instead. Do excuse the difference in resolution and clarity.

All in all, I had a lovely day made all the more enjoyable thanks to Sarah who is not just a dear dear friend but also one of my favourite muses with her ever giving heart and brilliantly photogenic face.

A Day Trip To Cambridge

The perks of living in a hall housing over three hundred students is that someone or the other will take the initiative to plan a trip, or well suggest one. So when Geoffrey expressed the desire to go visit Cambridge and many other places, everyone jumped on board. Not long after the plan was made that the day arrived.
Since we intended to arrive during the day, we had to start quite early in the morning. A frosty grey sky welcomed us as we set off. Eyes half closed and hands shielding yawns, we walked to the station. A brief wait at the station and our journey had begun. I had plans of catching up on my studies during the two hour bus ride, but the picturesque landscape beckoned my attention and within thirty minutes or so I was staring outside, studies be damned. Before we knew it, the bus had stopped and we had arrived at Cambridge.
A breeze welcomed us as we got off the bus. Not knowing where or what to do, we all started walking towards the centre of the small city. Next thing you know, we’re all seated in a restaurant called The Regal Wetherspoon. Designed with high back chairs and candelabras, the restaurant exuded warmth and a cozy atmosphere. Add to its charm, the walls were lined with slot machines.

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One by one, everyone went up to the counter and placed their order. While we waited, everyone seated at my table decided to try my hat on. The results were amusing to say the least.

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Before long the food had arrived and the tables were laden with drinks ranging from beers to coffee and mouth watering dishes like a traditional English breakfast to chocolate pancakes. As we munched on our food, Olivia (fellow hall resident and official tour guide for the day) and Mumma Cerveza were planning our itinerary.
Once they arrived, we set off once again. We walked through the centre of the city where food and jewellery stalls had been set up, into a very official looking building. Turns out we were to go punting and were booking tickets. During this time Tony thought it would be quite amusing to name the group Team Lannisters (Yes, he is watching Game of Thrones. Yes, he seems to be quite influenced by it.)

Team Lannisters

Team Lannisters

Once that was done, we headed out for some sight seeing. Despite the fact that Cambridge is a University city and is quite small, it was packed with wonderful architecture, small winding alleyways and cobbled streets that were strewn with autumnal leaves of all hues.

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We got the chance to stop by Corpus Christi College and were lucky enough to witness a busker who was singing and playing the guitar seated inside a trash can.

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Soon enough, we had reached the punting location. By then the weather had become a little more colder and the sky a shade greyer.

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The boys seemed extremely excited to start punting. Boy, were they in for a ride. They had no idea what they had signed up for. The entire group was to split into three since each boat could seat six people. ‘Team Lannisters’ unanimously decided that Ian would be punting for our boat.

Meet the punters. From left to right - Ian, Edip and Geoffrey.

Meet the punters. From left to right – Ian, Edip and Geoffrey.

Geoffrey who was punting for the boat seating Olivia, Vidhi, Kathleen, Bethany and Leslye seemed to have picked up punting with ease. Edip, punting for the third boat seating Görkem, Miguel, Asmita and Ines, seemed to be struggling quite a bit. He kept going around in circles unable to well, set sail so to speak, ultimately dropping the rod into the water. We on the other hand seemed to be doing quite well. This does not include Ian though who was red in the face. Here’s evidence.

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While he punted, we enjoyed the view. As we sailed further down, the view just became more breathtaking. We crossed under quite a few bridges and professional punters kept passing us by. One punter crossed us twice in half an hour. Show offs I tell you, very hot and good looking show offs. Want proof ?

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Told you.

Karoline who is quite the animal lover fed the ducks swimming past us, crackers and biscuits, the entire way. Tony on the other hand decided to crack inappropriate jokes and act cool.

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We also got to see geese. These geese refused to show their faces, so here is a wonderful picture of their backsides.

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We sailed past King’s College as well which seemed regal from where I sat.

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While we were coming back, Dipa decided to try paddling, as one does to help the punter and help direct the boat. To say she failed was an understatement. We spun around twice before she gave up. As she struggled, Edip who had given up punting and had passed it on to Miguel, commented saying “What are you doing, playing?” This for some reason, still cracks me up.

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Dipa TRYING to paddle.

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Miguel, who took over for Edip.

On returning, as the boats were being tied to the post and we were getting off, we saw Edip somehow punting towards land. He had taken over again and he seemed so stressed. As soon as he handed over the punting rod, relief flooded his face and he gave everyone the victory sign. He swore never to punt again. He was so grateful to be back on dry land that he was close to kissing it. The entire session of punting was so much fun. Not only did we get to see breathtaking views but also got to enjoy the weather and spend time just taking in the peace and calm of it all.

It was mid afternoon by then although it looked like it was late evening. Food beckoned us once more and so we headed off to the closest eatery that would not just feed us but also seat all of us together. Harriets turned out to be the best. After a brief wait outside, we shuffled inside into the warmth of the eating joint. A man was seated at the piano in the centre of the restaurant serenading us with some calm music.

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We hurriedly gave in our orders and soon enough they were placed in front of us. While I ordered for Black Currant coffee infused with Lavender and a Toblerone Cheesecake, everyone around me ordered scones, sandwiches and tea.

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I know it looks a tad bit like tea, but trust me it was coffee.

Once our bellies were satiated, we decided to do some more sight seeing. It had started to drizzle and it was quite chilly. Despite the fact that it was around six in the evening, it felt as though night had settled in.

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After walking around for some time, we decided to split up. While some went off to do some more sight seeing, some went shopping, Team Lannisters decided to go drink. We went back to The Regal Wetherspoon and instead of sitting on the ground floor as we had done previously, we headed upstairs. Not long after, the group had gathered again and we ordered dinner since it would be quite late by the time we arrived back in London. Asmita and I ordered Pomodoro Pasta, Dipa went for Salmon, Karoline ordered the ribs and Ian went for the steak. The others who had gone sight seeing and shopping had decided to sit on the ground floor. Lucky for us, we got to order a free drink along with our food. We dug in the minute the food arrived and it was quite delicious. The serving was quite generous and the ambience was quite lovely.

Soon it was time to leave. We headed out in the rain for the bus stop. Once we had arrived, Bethany decided she wanted to frolic in the rain. So there we were, Bethany and I, spinning in circles and doing the most absurd pirouettes in the muddy grass. Finally the bus doors opened and we trudged inside for our journey back home.

For a day trip, I think we faired quite well and took in as much as anyone else would have had they been there for more than a day. For someone who cribs while walking, I had a splendid time leaving behind my footprints on Cambridge soil. The journey was made even more eventful thanks to the people I travelled with. I can’t wait for another one of these trips !

And now, as if I hadn’t already flooded this post with enough pictures, here are a few more. These are my favourites and I feel quite proud of my photography skills for having captured them.
A big big thank you to Toothless for lending her camera to me. I had so much fun experimenting with it.

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Gothic Experiences…

Recently, after much insistence on my part, my friends and I decided to head to Camden. I had seen quite a few video blogs regarding it and wished quite desperately to experience it personally.
From the moment we got off the bus, I was all giddy steps and excited gasps. We began by heading off to the small stalls that were selling a wide range of clothes with captions that one could relate to and share a laugh over to stereotyped ’emo’ attires. Although the sellers were willing to bargain and sell them at reasonable rates, our unplanned trip and budget had us walking away with plans to come back again and raid the stores.
We then headed off to Camden Lock where we fell short of words seeing the outrageous at the same time very intricate artwork representing the stores or eating joints.

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Strolling in and out of stores, each one of us with an agenda (Meenakshi looking for wrist bands, Nupur searching for gifts for friends and family, Kriti hunting down pretty little dainty accessories and me, the perfect pair of boots) we had built up quite an appetite. Embarrassingly enough, a few bystanders did hear our stomachs grumble which hastened our desire to stuff ourselves with food.
On our way to Camden Lock Village Market, we got to witness the sun setting over the small lake that was silently flowing under the bridge that we were crossing. It looked picturesque, almost like a small portion of Venice (My idea of Venice rather) had been brought to this dark yet colourfully decorated village.

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With narrow cobbled streets winding downwards and buskers entertaining crowds, we weaved in and out of street food stalls looking for something that would satiate all of our taste buds and at the same time trying desperately to shrug off the cold that had stealthily slipped into our bones. That did not stop us from taking a group picture though. Oh narcissism how we hate to love you !

Hello random photobomber.

Hey Mum Dad, look I’m alive and kicking, hale and hearty.

We finally decided on a Chinese food stall.The man behind the counter was quite the enthusiastic lad (British enough ?) and his happy spirit was infectious enough for us to give it a go. The great thing was that we could munch on whatever we wanted and as much of it as we wanted for just three pounds. While I munched on Bean Sprout Fried Noodles with Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, Meenakshi chose to treat herself to Fried Noodles with Sweet and Sour Satay Chicken.

DSC_0623Nupur bailed on the gorging and Kriti opted for quite a large slice of Jalapeño Pizza. To give us company was a gigantic statue of an African warrior.

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By the time we were belly full, it was well into the evening and darkness had started to settle, so we decided to head back home. On our way back though, fairy lights had been lit and the pseudo neon lights adorned the town in hues of pink, blue and green. We couldn’t help but stopover every few minutes to squeal over some store or the other that otherwise looked quite morbid but had now transformed into some pretty little cafe or shop.

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As we were exiting the village, we stumbled across some crazy street art. Some of it we found while we were walking on the footpath, some on vehicles and quite a few on garbage cans and garages. People’s talent and imagination never fails to amaze me.

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Camden is the kind of place that takes time and energy to enjoy and visit. I intend to go back again with a much better itinerary and also much earlier in the day so that I not only get to enjoy the market but also get to cherish the revelries in the evening time. Anyone contemplating about visiting this place, I would urge you to go for sure. Its a sight to be seen !