MT Week 0: Day 3

I’m laughing at myself because I discovered this afternoon that this was considered Week 0 and not Week 1 of Michaelmas Term. The late discovery has meant renaming each of my posts from this past week, and facing the truth that no matter how many vlogs I watch, and how many bits of information I read about Cambridge and its quirks, I will be underprepared for the experience. This amusing fact kept me going throughout the day – and what a day it has been.

After completing some clerical work with the bank to update some documents, I made my way to the Sidgwick Site to see the Faculty of Law and the Squire Law Library. Last evening I had a conversation with someone who suggested I spend some time there in the morning, which led to a quick reshuffling of plans and booking a slot at the Squire. Owing to COVID, they aren’t operating at full capacity so booking a seat in advance is necessary, but there are no restrictions on the amount of time you can spend there in either the morning slot or the evening slot.

The building is an architectural marvel. Look up the David Williams Building and you will see what I mean. It’s at a right angle, but has a curved glass facade that allows just the right amount of sunlight to creep in and assist people using the library facilities. The lecture theatres are absolutely massive – I can only imagine what being there in a regular term must feel like, it must be swarming with people moving around, and the library itself, mwah. At GNLU, I was very fortunate to have an excellent library collection. I’m not extolling praise for no reason. We had pretty much every book I needed across my five years, particularly in niche subject-areas, but I think the downfall of the library was in it’s organizational structure (or lack thereof). Books here are so neatly compartmentalized, it was super easy to navigate around despite it being my first visit. The librarians are incredibly friendly, and so knowledgeable, I’m actually headed back tomorrow to get some recommendations from them. There’s also so much access online here. Despite these resources, I hope never to become someone supporting the paywall – I hope to continue fighting for open-access.

My morning pretty much went there. I cycled back past the University Library and the bookshops and came back home resolving to spend the day reorganizing and studying. I achieved the first – moving the position of some shelves to make the books I borrowed more easily accessible to me from the table, and I managed to set up some stuff I had put off for a while (my music and Kannada stuff largely). The second has been a real uphill climb.

I spent a while tweaking the system I developed yesterday and unlocking OneNote’s true potential (what an insane tool it is), and then I slowly waded my way through two articles, before realizing I’d done just two, but it was 11pm. I really need to get my mojo back – not in the least because at this pace I’ll be weeks behind my reading before classes kick off. The other downside is that I won’t have the time to do reading I enjoy outside of Law, so its best to get into a rhythm quick. Tonight and tomorrow, I say. I’ve made myself a big mug of tea to keep me company too. Very in-theme.

Slowly and steadily, my Outlook inbox is being flooded with e-mails from the different things I signed myself up for during the Fresher’s Fair. I’m glad I haven’t paid for any memberships as yet, because I don’t think I’d be able to do justice to more than a couple judging by the term cards and mailing lists, but I need to figure out which ones I’m most keen about and sign up to them in the next week or two so I can enjoy them to the fullest. I’ve already had to apologize to Eton Fives for not being able to make their taster session owing to clashing commitments.

Such is life, and life is such. It’s nice to be a busy bee after six months of self-imposed busyness.

MT Week 0: Day 2

As I look over today to recall the mental impressions that today’s events have created in my head, I am left knowing Cambridge is going to give me the opportunity to experience things I had looked forward to, but also things I did not anticipate doing here.

After setting up a bank account I came home to get going on the reading lists for the first lectures of term – and in a recurring theme today, I spent a large amount of time trying to figure out the most optimal strategy for note-taking. We were informed yesterday that exams this year were going to be conducted as 24-hour, online, open-book exams. As a consequence, preparing myself is both a combination of doing readings to stay up-to-speed with things, and preparing quickly-searcheable, well-organized notes. That’s a task and a half. I seem to have, at present, found a system that leads to some level of recall, which is helpful to get started, but I think it’s going to undergo a lot of change as time passes and I learn more about what the expectations are per course.

A few hours later I headed to Eddie’s to complete some errands and then went out for a game of tennis. We don’t have a tennis club at College, so a few of us created a Social Tennis group, which about describes the level of tennis fitness I have at the moment, and the level I’d be committed to playing. Tennis is one of those sports where the fun you have is largely based on how evenly matched two players are, which I think is true of most racquet sports, and this afternoon, it was rather lovely to find somebody about the same skill-level as me. He outplayed me, and I lost 3-6 to be fair, but we’re both figuring out our service game and getting back into the swing of things, which makes for good fun.

Another cycle ride home and I sat to work on more reading. In the evening I attended to the Tolkien Society: a society dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien and exploring all of his works, and some family calls, ate my dinner, and now I’m sitting back to do reading once more.

You’ll notice I’ve said I’m reading multiple times in this post. Being very honest with myself though, I don’t think I’m reading much at all. I still have the same few PDFs I started the day with open, because my brain keeps fluttering away, but I’ve got to get stuck into it and keep trying till I get back into a rhythm. I’m noticing here that each day is going to be very different this first week (till I find a schedule at least), and so, it’s probably best to slot out the number of hours I want to be doing something rather than trying to sort out a specific time I want to be doing an activity.

I’ve also begun to journal – which is weird, given that I run this blog, but that serves a completely different purpose. It’s more writing as well!

MT Week 0: Day 1

So this is it? Michaelmas Term has commenced.

I’m done with my first official, official day at the University of Cambridge. Two officials are necessary since I’ve been here a while now, I’ve matriculated on a different day, the academic session started a week ago, but today, things felt like they meant more.

This morning I finally had the chance to meet my buddy at St. Edmund’s, who is on the fast-track 2-year Tripos Law program. Most Colleges create College families for freshers, but as a mature College, Eddie’s offers buddies to help us adjust to life here and ask questions we may otherwise feel like holding in. Very helpful. As both of us are Law students we attended a meeting with our DoS, Dr Sean Butler – as well as our Fellow, Ms Catherine Dobson. Apart from offering up free sandwiches, both of them were super encouraging. Coming here this year, amidst how uncertain everything is, and how imminent another lockdown appears was a risk, and it’s very gratifying to know that some faculty and staff recognize that. I think the struggle with everything moving online is making the most of all the social events Cambridge has to offer and the experience that it is; but every one is really working toward providing a safe atmosphere in which we can enjoy them. I think the only issue with that is the level of responsibility thrust upon every individual, and I can only hope everyone takes it seriously.

Post-that we had our LLM induction – which felt like it stretched on a little, but was essential for the Faculty to carry out, to provide us with all the information we need before we get into the reading. Finals this year are set to be carried out all online – as 24-hour, open-book exams. I have very mixed feelings about that decision, but I know I’ll have to now account for this method of examination while doing my readings and preparing notes per course as well, so I’m appreciative of their decision to announce this policy so early on in the year.

In the evening I cooked myself some pasta, attended a theological study group, and was able to reflect on everything this past week brought as I edited the podcast. It’s been surreal. My plans for tonight are to figure out how to actually allocate pieces of my time to reading – and to reply to my messages, because I feel friendships from afar slipping away slightly as my replies delay beyond 24 hours.

Another side-thing happening at the moment is that we’re trying to mobilize my school’s alumni association. So if you’re an Inventurer reading this, please reach out – we need the support.

Pre-Term: Day #8

Today’s the last day before Term actually begins, and this becomes a #Camblog for a short period of time. I can’t think of how this day could have been better. I woke up this morning and recorded a lovely episode of the podcast with my mother, which gave me a chance to think about how I dealt with some things before I came to University. You can listen to that tomorrow if you’d like. While eating breakfast I managed to catch-up with my childhood best friend after a week or so, which felt very strange especially given how we were speaking every day for nearly five months – and I went off to the Cambridge Union.

I debated during my undergraduate degree, and I enjoyed the activity. It gave me the opportunity to improve logical reasoning skills and make new friends, but it also brought back my reading habit. I don’t think I was the best debater at University, not by a long shot – but I had fun with it. When we were there, I remember discovering the debate clips from the Oxford Union and the Cambridge Union. Close friends of mine studied at Oxford and I was able to ask them what the Union there was like. I never asked friends at Cambridge about it, and I’m glad I hadn’t. This morning, I had my breath taken away from me. The Union is stunning. The building itself is just wonderful to look at, but the history – and the way it’s preserved is delightful. I was taken by the Chamber, and taken by the fact that the bicentennial debate was This House is not what it used to be.

How else to mark changing times?

They were kind enough to sponsor free ice-cream after the tour, a double-chocolate cone at Jack’s Gelato was my pick. A walk to Eddie’s to collect goodies & check my pidge, a quick stop at Sainsbury’s for some groceries, and I cycled back home to eat my lunch and finish some meetings.

The evening was actually when things really kicked off. I went to Wilko’s and picked up a kettle and some colourful pens I needed, cycled around Cambridge with a friend from Bangalore, and cycled up to Eddie’s once again – using a new route I discovered on Google Maps that makes the hill climb bearable. We played table tennis out in the rain; and I haven’t found a sport more thrilling, particularly because the wind made it seem like I had some incredible top-spin ability.

I’ve been back home for a while, and was able to catch-up with my household. Living with a family is really nice because you always come home to people – and it’s always pleasant to talk about new experiences you’re having with locals, to whom all of the foreign-ness I am experiencing must sound absurd.

Like I said earlier though – tomorrow is when Michaelmas Term begins.

From the Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge
The Michaelmas Term shall begin on 1 October and shall consist of eighty days, ending on 19 December. The Lent Term shall begin on 5 January and shall consist of eighty days, ending on 25 March or in any leap year on 24 March. The Easter Term shall begin on 10 April and shall consist of seventy days ending on 18 June, provided that in any year in which full Easter Term begins on or after 22 April the Easter Term shall begin on 17 April and end on 25 June.

To quip in Hindi, feel aata hai. These small bits of tradition give me joy – and I’m pretty eager to see how much my days change now that the University is in full-swing. I already know, for example, that tomorrow is packed with inductions and introductions, yet somehow, I need to attend a Virtual Fresher’s Fair to get to know about the Societies I want to join – and sign up to as many e-mail lists as I can. I’m also hopeful there will be free merchandise, but we shall see.

Pre-Term: Day #7

Today has been a very amusing day.

This morning I woke up and ran in the rain, which was a first for me. It’s taking some acclimatizing, and I’m being forced to pick between running quickly to warm up, and running slowly so I can actually complete a decent run. It’s very entertaining for me to look at how my head makes these decisions, and makes me more curious about seeing the inside of my brain one day. I do hope that becomes possible in my lifetime.

A solid run later, we were scheduled to walk from St. Edmund’s to Grantchester Meadows, a 3 mile walk – and so I walked to college, adding a mile to my own count for the day. Grantchester is a stunning little meadow close by to Cambridge with a little village and everything, where the Bloomsbury Group used to do a lot of thinking & writing. The walk was very pretty, and I was in excellent company, keeping me in rather good spirits in the cold and the rain (the real feel at one point said 6 degrees – so the worst is yet to come). What absolutely dampened most people’s joie de vivre was the discovery that The Orchard, our destination for the day, was shut. We walked back and I returned to the warmth of my home, hoping to spend the evening on some work.

I ended up playing some videogames and attending QuizSoc’s Fresher’s Pub Quiz – making new friends, instead. The quiz was super fun, and I really love attending new quizzes to see how innovative people get in coming up with unique rounds that they can add into their quizzes. There was a letters round today – asking you to find the letter that sets two words whose definitions were presented apart. For example, you’d see the part of the alimentary canal below the stomach; the intestine and round, circular dinnerware. That would be bowel and bowl, making the letter e the letter setting them apart. Another round was dingbats, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

A bit of work on our school’s alumni association, some international law reading, and writing this blog – and I’m a very pleased man going to bed, hoping to wake up in time for another run out in the rain.

Pre-Term: Day #6

Last night was legitimately crazy and I’ve ended up walking a whole bunch across cobblestones in my formal shoes, which is not a very pleasurable experience. This morning, I awoke to two realizations: it’s been one week since I moved out to my new home, and I’m four days away from the start of Michaelmas Term. It feels like the week has flown by with coffee meet-ups and learning Cambridge’s culture, but most of all, the week has been a lesson in the art of layering up. That’s right, not lawyering up, but layering up. I’ve understood since I’ve come here that a lot of my excuses to get out of social meet-ups when I don’t fancy going will no longer work. These are some I can no longer use:

  1. It’s raining too heavily,
  2. That’s too far away,
  3. I’m stuck in traffic,
  4. It’s too cold to meet-up.

None of these will work any longer. The weather here stops nobody, which is a testament to their character given how frigid the rain can feel. It’s also made me appreciate footballers more. On television, I always wondered why they wore gloves, and why their breath fogged up so much when it looked rather pleasant and the rain didn’t feel as heavy. I’m experiencing it all now, and trust me, I no longer understand how they play football at all.

There was a lunch meet-up and a household tea happening today which I was unable to attend owing to some work commitments (that reasoning continues to hold good here), and thus, today became a day-in. A day to rest my weary calves and thighs (barring a run in the morning), to sit, think, and work. It also allowed me to catch-up with family, cook leisurely and eat my food without wondering how to navigate to where I need to be next.

I was right. The two weeks of quarantine meant it would take me at least one week to want to stay at home. Trust me, I didn’t particularly want to either. I would have loved to go out – but sometimes the socializing urges have to give way to more practical things. I’m certain now that the art of time management is one that I’ll continuously get to work on over here.

Tomorrow I’m back out, and the forecast says it’s very cold, so I’m eager to see how things pan out.

Pre-Term: Day #5

Today was my matriculation day.
Matriculation marks the formal admission of a student to membership of the University, and means we sign a Matriculation Registration Form, promising to observe the Statutes and Ordinances of the University and to pay due respect and obedience to the Chancellor and other officers of the University.

Of course, there’s that aspect of things – the signing of a form (which has taken place electronically for the moment, and will happen in small groups at matriculation soirees). However, this was the first day I got to wear my academic gown. I’ve been a fan of tradition for a long time. While hoping for increased accessibility to people from more diverse backgrounds, Universities set themselves apart with these little traditions. Even back in India, IIT-Bombay, for example, hosts their graduation in Indian traditional outfits. I enjoy that. So wearing the academic dress was quite lovely – and to me, in this chilly weather, I started to recognize that perhaps it was born out of practicality. You know, an additional layer worn on top of formals to feel warm, but still appear formal.

The matriculation itself was just a quick little photograph; but what followed was the chance to meet two friends: one who has the same personality type as me, and another whose research interests align very closely with my own – both incredibly fun. Subsequent to that was the chance for photographs. I’m someone who is always game for photographs, but rarely know how to ask people to take them of me. I was in luck – with me were two photographer friends, both who have a wonderful eye for detail and direction, but a lot of patience too. And thus, we went around St. Edmund’s in the morning, and Cambridge at night – taking photos everywhere we pleased. It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite photo given the range we captured, from formal ones outside Trinity Lane at night, to me pretending to be a wizard with a twig. If only I had a broomstick too.

Cambridge at night has a completely different vibe to it. There’s very few people out on the streets, a lot more open space, and it’s very dimly lit. It definitely looks like Hogwarts. In my head, I always imagined the colleges themselves to be a source of light to the town. I don’t mean this figuratively, I mean it literally. They’re so large that I anticipated every room to carry a source of light and allow for the streets to be well-lit. How wrong I was. This night has been memorable though: for the company, the photographs, and the slow-cycling competition outside Gonville & Caius College (I’m glad we didn’t try doing that till the Corpus Clock).

Pre-Term: Day #4

Everybody cycles in Cambridge.

I live off-site. This means I’m not on College accommodation, or University accommodation. It’s important to remember that Cambridge is a town with people living here who have nothing to do with the University, and I’m very lucky to have found a lovely place to stay. It’s about 20 minutes by walk to both the Law Faculty, and to St Edmund’s, time that’s cut in half when you cycle. That is good enough reason to acquire one.

The story of my cycle is a story of luck, and now of love. I’ve ridden it one day and I am remembering now how much I enjoyed cycling to places inside my gated community, and how liberating it is to be able to cycle on the roads. It’s not something I’ve done before and it’s something I’m enjoying thoroughly. I’m keen to see where all I end up going with the cycle, and what all it gets to see. Bike theft occurs commonly over here – and forget that, light theft does too, which meant some expenditure on accessories to keep safe.

Having been to a picnic earlier in the week, one of the members from there was kind enough to meet me again for crepes, which provided a fine opportunity to get to know someone outside of the Faculty of Law, which I’m certain will become my social hub – especially if our meet-up this evening is anything to go by. After eating some pulao I made, I ended up going to meet what I thought would be a few, and ended up being way more than a few LLMs. Like yesterday, it opened my eyes up to the diversity in the batch. As a fresh undergraduate (having completed a degree in May), I’m one of the younger ones in the class, which is comprised of, among others, some students who have completed a PhD. In conversation with them, I understood that unlike my own conditioning – which views qualifications very linearly (undergraduate, postgraduate, doctorate, post-doctorate), a large number of societies worldwide view qualifications as merely being indicative levels of education. Consequentially, it isn’t absurd to have done a PhD and then be doing an LLM – and the LLM is often pursued with a research grant; to gain both institutional affiliation and further specialization.

Now I’m thinking of all the wonderful doors this degree opens up for me. I can only smile, and hope that more people get to experience this.

Pre-Term: Day #3

Most disappointed in myself for beginning yet another writing series and then letting it fade away two posts in. Having successfully traced back my days, I can write about them – and hopefully convey to you how much has actually transpired even before Term has begun.

I finally own my academic gown now. At Cambridge, the gown you wear depends either on what degree you already hold, or your age. Graduates of the University of Cambridge wear the gown corresponding to their Cambridge degree. As a result, as Graduate students, we have fewer variations in our style of gown as the undergraduates. The undergraduates’ gowns are so vastly different based on the course and college they are in, which makes graduation and matriculation very colourful. Outside Ryder & Amies, this institution that looks and feels quinticentially Cambridge on the inside, I saw people wearing gowns with hints of blue, and a set that was a deep blue, very distinct to others (I suspect that this is Trinity).

After a couple of appointments (banks et al), I met with some friends and went shopping for things to make my room feel like home, picking up a chest of draws/organizer, and a couple of stationery items. Wilko’s really is becoming my new favourite place and I do not think there is any other store that will compare. Barring Asda perhaps.

St. Edmund’s is being very kind and hosting a lot of Fresher’s Events adhering to the guidelines currently being supplied by the Government: the rule of six and a lot of social distancing. Today’s highlight was meeting people from the Podcasting society and discovering that was a group thing here.

The evening was just a nice, long walk (and cookies) with a fellow LLM. The diversity in this LLM class in incredible. The friend I met this evening is somebody who studied 9 years of music prior to switching over to legal education. That formal training in music must have been an incredible challenge, and the more I spoke with him, the more I came to appreciate how society can afford opportunity to people of all backgrounds – yet sometimes chooses not to. It’s difficult to imagine somebody from India studying 9 years of classical piano and then switching education streams to move onto something else, but imagine if we allowed for it by providing greater access and open-mindedness to our educational approach. How much joy would we be able to spread, if we removed the pressure of making decisions?

Pre-Term: Day #2

Today was a day of gratitude.

My morning went by in cleaning up my fountain pens to be able to inject new ink into them tomorrow, a nice Waterman Serene Blue for this term, and the foreseeable future. A few months ago, maybe sometime in June, I had discovered this lovely Pilot ink, the Iroshizuku, which had the perfect teal that matched the Cambridge Blue. If it was more affordable, I’d certainly opt-in to use that, but for now – and given that I have exams in blue, this seems best.

After replying to some e-mails I set off from my house hoping to return by 6:30, when the the forecast said the sun would be out.

This was the first damp day I ventured out in. To be frank, Cambridge hasn’t gotten terribly cold yet (it will soon, I reckon) – but the forecast was bang-on. It was damp and raining till about 1pm, when the gloom lifted and the sun came out. I was lucky that coincided with my plans – having brunch with a friend and coffee inside a church cafe with some others, prior to walking around the Backs to get to Eddie’s (that’s St Edmund’s College – where I’m based). A fun afternoon of exploring College, I left 3 books, 5 friends, piano-laden, and happier than when I arrived.

The evening, however, has been a highlight. I was able to meet somebody I had worked with and only interacted with via e-mail for three years and speak to them about my life, and theirs, and our mutual affection for common spaces. I’m brimming with joy about this – because I was a little star-struck, and I truly hope that didn’t show too much. In the night I met somebody whom I had only ever spoken to once, but somebody who helped me with my applications that I was able to say thank you to, and now begin to forge a friendship with.

There’s much I’m grateful for, but it’s this opportunity to interact with people I never thought I’d get to see in person that I’m most grateful for today. COVID has it’s challenges, and it’s important we all stay safe, but being able to set up in-person meetings, and some face-to-face coffees is probably how I’ll make the most of things.

Four Boxes

Leaving University, particularly a residential University hits in different stages, I think. These have hit differently owing to the pandemic this year. Ordinarily, I believe, there’s the realization that you are going to relocate and move back home. That’s followed by an enjoyment of every last moment at University and hostel. Subsequently, there’s the packing up and the collection of provisional documentation. Finally, there’s the relocation and move.

I started my final semester knowing the first two – and experiencing the first two to the fullest. As I moved home (and packed up as much as I could), and classes went online, I tried to make the most of it. Truth be told, I hardly attended the online lectures, so my enjoyment about my days as an undergraduate student were spent wondering if my dissertation submissions would be cancelled and what the examination policy would be – and not much else. The last day of classes made me feel relief and a lot of emotions about the journey I had been on, whIMG-20200805-WA0004.jpegich I’ve documented here. Receiving my provisional degree marked the culmination of that journey.

None, however, have made me feel the emotions that seeing these four carton boxes made me experience.

You see, these four carton boxes contain everything I held at University within my room. Everything I had accumulated, everything I had shared.

Suddenly, before my eyes, was five years contained within four large boxes. All the experiences and all the memories presented and held in their most tangible form. Here.

And that was it.

Suddenly, all that would linger of me on campus was my name and the memory of me – not my belongings, not my presence. It felt like the last ties that connected me to the place I called home for so long had been severed. Not ripped off quick like a bandaid, which is how the flight home felt, but unwrapped slowly, like crepe bandage, leaving behind its own impressions on my body.

Before going any further, I have to thank a close friend for coordinating and liaising all of this with the packers & movers, and my roommate, for agreeing to everything so quick. It made the entire process feel so seamless. My favourite memory of this entire thing is being able to see our room one last time over a 1.5 hour long WhatsApp video call, where we saw everything get put into boxes and packed up – just as we wanted it to be. No confusion about stuff, no fluff. Thank you both for making that possible. Seeing that with my roommate was surreal because he had already lived in the room for a month before I moved in and almost turned the room on its head with my suggestions. Each year was an experiment in trying to get to the perfect orientation, and I’m so pleased we succeeded.

After leaving the boxes overnight, I opened them up the next day one-by-one. First, I was stunned by the amount I had hoarded. All my committee t-shirts and tags laid bare in front of me, but then there were the xerox textbooks and the moot compendia, all the stuff I wished to leave behind at University for somebody to make use of. There was the stationery, the memorabilia from competitions, and the gifts & postcards – birthday greetings from over the years. There was the care package I received in my second year, and one remnant sanitary napkin, from the hoard I had amassed from my friends in the girls hostel to help me with my pilonidal sinus in my first year.

There was my kettle, my trusty companion. An extra bottle of Vim. Some toiletries.

Everything I used on a daily basis.

Then, and this is what hit me most. There was the stuff I had “borrowed” from home before I left. Vividly, as I unwrapped the cardboard packaging, I remembered the day I had decided to pack an alarm clock. The day I discovered an excellent stationery manager for the desk lying around unused and told my mum I’d be taking it. There was also the stuff I had bought for home during my travels away: the miniature Delftware, some magnets.

That was all of it.

Suddenly home felt it had more stuff that represented my growth in the last five years, and less stuff that spoke of the more distant past. My room changed overnight, with law books entering the library and some choice pieces getting pinned on my softboard – reminding me of what had actually gone by.

The board examination stationery kit, which was the part of my room that made me feel like the house stood still in time, lay strewn somewhere on the side, now a part of a modern look that made home feel like the hostel, when I had tried hard to make the hostel feel like home.

All I needed to hear was unnecessary screaming as the electricity tripped, some loud music, some choice words, a whirring fan, and my roommate’s voice.

I’d be back in Ahmedabad again.

Until then however, this is another goodbye.

Take A Walk

Yep, the title of this post bears resemblance to the Passion Pit song. I’m sensing a theme with my writing in the sense that I tend to get into the rhythm of things whenever the story I’m writing about has a connection to music. Maybe it’s the rhythm of the song, the memory of the song, or even something as simple as the fact that this song is now playing on loop while I write this blog entry. Whatever it is, it works, and today, I’m grateful for it.

The thing I’ve been most disappointed by as a result of not writing regularly is how there’s no physical record of how I’ve spent each day in the last month. I love that about writing – about documenting. It helps me remember each day distinctly. I know I’ve been productive, there’s been a lot happening: spring cleaning, house repairs, a lot of thinking, and a fair amount of learning at the end of each day. It’s unfortunate not all of it was succesfully documented. Nonetheless, it’s integral that I look forward to all the things I will get to document soon.

Over the last two months, something I missed was the freedom of walking to places. I enjoy walking. When we visited New York, and when I took a trip through Netherlands and Germany, I was amazed by the amount I ended up learning about the city and the feel/vibe of the place by walking along the footpath and following a map till I reached my destination. I equally enjoyed exploring places with just the informational booklet and maybe an audio-guide with me, instead of tour guides showing me around. It just felt more organic, like my interaction with the environment I was surrounded by was not limited by how much another individual was willing to part with. So over the last two months, I’ve just missed the freedom of vast expanses I could explore – even paths I’ve tread on before.

Earlier this week, I had the first opportunity to step out. To do chores, no less, but step outside of my community by foot – to explore my neighbourhood once more, while taking the necessary precautions of course. I’ve never walked this stretch before in my life. Usually, I walk bits and pieces of the entire stretch – to get to a bus stop, or even go to the bakery outside the complex with my friends when they’re all around. I stepped out of the house to do bank work, and it was on that walk that I thought about how much the neighbourhood had changed since we first moved in. 

It’s getting closer and closer to 12 years since we relocated from Dubai to Bangalore, and something I’ve been quite vocal about is how protected I’ve been inside my gated community. When we first moved here, the place I live in pretty much had nothing surrounding it. The closest proper grocery shop was about 7 kilometers away, and you had to plan really carefully while stepping out so you finished all your work before getting back, just because of how inconvenient it was. The walk I took showed me the reality of today. Literally anything I could imagine or ever need was within the walking distance: from necessities like electrical supplies and staples (for which there are multiple vendors) to luxuries like bakery goods and fast food. I could walk and get everything I wanted.

I generally use my time in Bangalore to bring to  my parents’ attention that I wish I could drive our old Toyota Liva. I miss that car dearly. In the current circumstances with the coronavirus and the lack of public transport especially, I think the ease of access with a vehicle to move around (I could do with a scooter too!) was something I’ve brought up a couple of times, much to my parents’ dismay. It’s all a big joke – I’m very pleased they disposed of the car when they did, we had no immediate, urgent use for it. The thing I realized on the walk though, is that if we did indeed have a vehicle with us, I’d never take a walk like that.

It’s been a whole week since I took that walk, and a week since I started writing this blogpost. It’s the first post I left in my drafts for far too long, but actually completed, instead of trashing because it lost it’s relevance in my life. Since last Monday, I’ve taken these long walks every evening.

I love these walks. They get me out of the house, and they give me one hour to listen to an audiobook in peace, catch up on phone calls, and finish a bunch of other things I’d feel like procrastinating if I was in the house. Obviously there’s the fresh air and all that good stuff too.

The one thing I have mixed feelings about is that I’m becoming a pakka Bangalorean again. Three months can change you so much. Given the trope, I’ve generally resisted talking about Bangalore weather with people, even though I do boast about how wonderful it is on occassion. My roommate from college loves Bangalore weather far too much because of what his other friends have told him about it. Now, I can’t stop talking about it. I begin conversations with my parents every evening telling them how wonderful it is right now, how pleasant, how airy. My friend from Gurgaon tells me he’s suffering in some 40 degree heat, and I’m so grateful I escaped from Ahmedabad’s summer because here, the weather is the perfect representation of the Goldilocks principle. It isn’t too bright nor too gloomy. It isn’t too hot nor too cold. It’s bloody breezy, but it isn’t raining. 

It’s just right.