Posted in 2017, New Year

2016 is no more!

2017 is finally here! I don’t think we’ve ever wished for a year to end as much as 2016, and it’s finally happened. 2016 is no more…good riddance! To be fair, personally, 2016 was a really good year. However, looking back on the year, I don’t see it in a positive light at all. Because, while the year may have been good to me, so many terrible things have happened that have affected all of humanity.

This past year, I slowly lost my faith in the human race. To be part of a world where suffering, pain, and terror is normalized is something I never thought I’d live through. But, we live in a time where waking up to news of corruption, rape, discrimination, and terrorism has become so common that we have become almost insensitive to it. We read the news, feel sorry, and then go on with our day…and that’s just wrong. This behaviour reminds me of a few lines from my favourite poem, ‘The Shield of Achilles’, by W.H. Auden, which right now seems almost like a prediction come true.

“That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,

Were axioms to him, who’d never heard

Of any world where promises were kept,

Or one could weep because another wept.”

Auden writes here that we live in a world where children have never known of kept promises or human sympathy. They live in an atmosphere that is illogical and vicious; a world that has destroyed any moral sensation that curbs people from committing atrocious acts.

This year has definitely been one for the books – generations to come will read about 2016 in their history texts. Humans never learn, is what I’ve taken from this year. Politics, war, genocide, discrimination, and terrorism are not new to the human race. Since the beginning of time we have been going through these similar motions of terror in a vicious never ending cycle.

But, a popular quote says that ‘after the darkness, there is always light’, and 2017 is the light everyone is looking to right now. We have huge expectations from this year, and I hope it delivers. While the world is a terrible place today, I believe that all that has happened has also been positive in a sense. Change is what we need, and the events of the past year have hopefully been horrifying enough to catalyse that change. This year, more people have been jolted awake from their ignorance, and 2017 will be a year of awareness, progress, and change (I sincerely hope).

I know people have a whole bunch of generic New Year’s resolutions every year, y’know, exercise, eat healthy, travel, and the like. But, I believe that this year it should be every human being’s resolution to be more aware and proactive. Ignorance is our worst enemy, and the only way to salvage the human race is to change the way in which we currently think and act.

So, here’s to a new year filled with expectations and hope. The world will not get better in a day. The pain and suffering of 2016 will not be forgotten and buried, but after a dark year, we need something to believe in, and I believe that this year will be a better year.

P.S. I know this post has just been me rambling on, but honestly, when the clock struck 12 and everyone started wishing each other, these were the thoughts swirling around in my head. Just thought I’d get them out and share them.

Cheers, 2017. Let’s do better this time round.

Happy new year, everyone!

That’s all for now, folks!

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book – write a good one!”

 

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Posted in Christmas, Family, Food, London

Christmas 2016: Different, but Same

This was my first Christmas in England, and I spent it at a family friends’ place in Bishops Strotford, a town just out of London. I took the train there on the 24th and returned to London on Boxing Day. This year was the first year that I spent Christmas anywhere but home. At home we have a Christmas tradition: a pot-luck brunch. I live in a joint family, which means that I live not only with my parents and siblings, but also my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. So, we’re about 20 people in my house and on Christmas everyone brings something to the table. Every member of the family has a special dish they cook for Christmas brunch each year. The day usually starts by us waking up to Christmas music, which then continues to be played all day, getting dressed and bringing over food. Invariably, people are late, and brunch doesn’t start till lunch time, by which point everyone is starving, thanks to not having had anything to eat all day. Post-brunch, gifts are finally removed from the under the tree and distributed by the children. Having eaten too much and no longer being able to move or function, the afternoon is a time for relaxation and the entire family gathers in the drawing room to watch a movie, and so the day goes on. We generally end up just chilling all afternoon and the Christmas party resumes in the evening when the drinks come out and left-overs are had for dinner.

Now that you have an idea of what a normal Christmas day is at my home, I’ll go in to Christmas 2016, and how it was different while also being quite the same. The day began with us being up bright and early to open presents, after which we all got to work in the kitchen, prepping for brunch. The family I was staying with was having their relatives over for brunch and were cooking an absolute feast. There was turkey, gammon, beef among other salads and veges, and then there was also fruit and cream sponge cake and toblerone cheesecake…and everything was delicious! Brunch was supposed to be at half 12 but the first relatives turned up at half 1 and by the time everyone came and we sat down to eat, it was 3. Canapés and mulled wine is all we’d had at that point, and so after a quick round of crackers, we all started piling food on our plates and pigging out.

When our stomachs could no longer take any more food, we all retired to the drawing room where we had another round of presents. The family had another tradition; every year they played dumb-charades after brunch. So, we divided ourselves into oldies vs. youngsters and played charades for a good couple hours. As the game progressed, the names of the movies became more and more absurd and it was an absolute laugh seeing people act out and guess movies they’d never even heard of.  We finally stopped playing because it was getting late and a lot of the family had long drives back home. By that time, everyone was tired and yawning although it was only around 7 pm. After an entire day, we switched off the Christmas music and watched the ‘Bake Off Christmas Special’ while cleaning up the kitchen and then everyone settled down to have dinner and watch The Jungle Book.

Now, I haven’t yet mentioned, but the family has a dog named Kaiser who is the most adorable dog I’ve met. He’s a 10 year old golden retriever and was the highlight of my Christmas. He has a blanket that he roams around carrying in his mouth, is attention seeking and will keep quiet only if you continuously pet him, and he barked every time he saw an animal on the tele (he went mad when we started watching The Jungle Book). He’s a big, old, adorable fellow! I have a dog back home who I miss more than anyone else, and Kaiser being around made me miss my puppy less.

So, while this Christmas was spent in a small town in England instead of in India, it went through pretty much the same motions as Christmas back home does. Christmas is a very family affair at home, and I’m glad it was the same here; it made me not miss my family. It was basically the same Christmas as always, just in a different location with people who felt like family.

I hope you all had a great Christmas this year!

That’s all for now, folks!

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “At Christmas, all roads lead home.” – Marjorie Holmes

 

 

Posted in Cooking, London, Sleep

The Christmas Eve Eve Post

I woke up at 7 am today! For those of you wondering why that’s a big deal, for me that’s an accomplishment, okay? I am not a morning person, and struggle to wake up at half 8 to get to class on time, and I’m always grouchy in the morning. Honestly, I set at least 8-10 alarms before bed every night and even those aren’t enough to get me out of bed some days. Not going to bed till at least 2 am probably has a lot to do with my usually late start to mornings, but let’s not get into that.

Last night, for some reason, I felt really sleepy and went to bed around half 9. I watched a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother and was asleep by 11. I set my alarms for every half hour starting from 9 but woke up by 7 actually feeling awake. I don’t usually wake up feeling awake. My brain usually takes an hour to wake up after my body does. I generally start my mornings like most people in our generation…by checking all my social media. So, after going through my notifications and scrolling through all my social media accounts, I got out of bed feeling like being productive.

Now, since winter break has begun, another thing I do every morning is play Christmas music, and today was no different. Feeling the Christmas cheer, I checked my mails and then got down to work. Two hours later, my first alarm rang and it felt weird. I had been up for two hours already – I’d made myself breakfast, finished an essay I’d been working on, and even had time to watch a couple YouTube videos. On a normal day, at this time I’d have been grumbling, hitting the snooze button, rolling over, and going back to sleep.

The days feel longer when I wake up early (probably because they actually are, I know), but I felt like I had so much time in the day and that isn’t something I’m used to. I worked for a while longer and every half an hour from 9 am till noon, my alarm rang. I could have just turned them off, I know, but I didn’t, and so they rang. Another thing about waking up early, I think I eat more meals when I’m up earlier than usual! Since I was up at 7, by half 8 I was hungry and so I grabbed my usual breakfast of yogurt, fruit, honey, and granola. Now, that generally keeps my stomach happy till lunch, but not today. At around half 11, I was hungry again, and got myself toast and cheese. Not even noon, and I’d had two meals already!

Going off on a bit of a tangent, I’m leaving to spend Christmas at a family friend’s place tomorrow, and then I’m off to India next week. So, since today is my last full day here till the second week of January, I had to try and use up all the food I had when cooking this afternoon. I hate wasting food, it’s a pet peeve, and if I didn’t use everything while cooking, it would have to be thrown. I ended up making an Indian chicken curry and a mixed vegetable dish, and I’m happy to say I’ve used up pretty much all the vegetables I had (barring one tomato and two onions).

Frankly, I didn’t know what else to do with my day, after lunch. I did have a few errands to run, but I’m also meant to be receiving a parcel from Amazon today and if I’m not here to pick it up, well, they’ll leave and I won’t be able to get it before I leave. I even tried to take a nap, but I’m not tired after the healthy amount of sleep I had last night. So here I am, sat waiting for Amazon and writing this. I should really start packing and get everything ready since I leave tomorrow. Yeah, you know what; I think it would be wise to stop writing and get packing now.

I’d say the moral of this story is that we should sleep early and have a healthy sleep schedule, but I know I am not going to practice what I preach. Even though I’ve felt refreshed and productive all day, come tomorrow I’ll be back to wasting my time on YouTube and Netflix till 2 am and waking up a grouch the next morning.

That’s all for now, folks! Happy Christmas Eve Eve (I don’t think that’s a thing, but oh well).

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.” – Anthony Burgess

Posted in Cooking, Food, Student

Zee in the Kitchen

When I arrived in London, I hadn’t had a lot of experience in the kitchen. I had cooked a bit when I was in college, but nothing fancy, and not too often because my housing provided meals. Here, however, to cook or not to cook wasn’t really a choice; it was a matter of survival.  During my first few weeks here I met a lot of people who lived off of ready-to-eat meals and takeaways and I couldn’t imagine living like that. So, I took to cooking, and if I may say so myself, I found that I’m rather good at it.

I never use recipes to cook. From day one, I’ve gone with my gut and my taste buds and that’s what seems to work best for me. My flatmates often ask me what I’m cooking and I never know how to answer them because, to be honest, I never know what I’m cooking till it’s made. I start with a bunch of ingredients and then just make it up as I cook.

As a university student, I don’t have the time or the energy (I’m also lazy by nature) to cook on a daily basis, and so I generally make 2 big dishes that last me through the week. I also tend to cook a lot of Indian food because that’s home food, to me. I like coming back at the end of the day and enjoying a good Indian meal. I didn’t think I could cook the kind of food made back at home, but one day I decided to give it a go and just kept adding ingredients and tasting it until it tasted very similar to one of my favourite home-cooked dishes. Since then, I use the tasting method all the time and have managed to make rather decent versions of my mom’s dishes. I’m proud of me!

I now love cooking and am also more confident about my skills in the kitchen. Before I came to London, I only ever liked cooking for myself, because as I said, I never use recipes and experimenting doesn’t always deliver the best tasting dishes. I’m also the clumsiest person I’ve met and so, me in the kitchen usually results in something going wrong. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve dropped an ingredient and I’m pretty certain I cut a finger or burn my hand every time I step into the kitchen. Pro tip – Never trust me with sharp objects.

Anyway, because taking pictures of food is a thing of our generation, I do have pictures of some dishes I’ve cooked during my time here in London. I thought I’d upload some in this post, and maybe even write some tried and tested (by me) easy-to-cook recipes for students in the future.

Here you go!

That’s all for now, folks!

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” – Julia Child

Posted in Night Out

The Breakfast Club (Not the movie)

Sometimes, after a rough work-filled week, you just need a girl’s night out.

Aaand, that’s exactly what we did last Saturday night. Lucky for us, we live in a very central part of London, right near London Bridge, and so we don’t have to go too far to have a good night out. We literally walked across the street to a restaurant called The Breakfast Club (the best place for a hangover cure of a breakfast, if you’re ever in need of one), for dinner and drinks.

The ambience of the place was really laid back, perfect for a chilled out night with friends. The playlist was the kind of music you’re not too sure about when you enter, but soon find yourself singing along and swaying to, in your seat. And oh, for the love of food, try this place out. The portions are good, and the food in general, delicious.

We had a great time catching up on each other’s weeks and exchanging scandalous stories that made our appetites vanish (until we took another bite of the food, and were back on track). We also ordered a round of cocktails with dinner, and ended up playing loud drinking games in the middle of a crowded restaurant, as you do.

Now, we’d decided to eat at that particular restaurant because we’d heard that it had an interesting bar attached to it. Rumour had it that you needed a password to get in, and a waiter to escort you there. None of us knew if this was true, but we had the password and wanted to find out. So, when the waitress came over with the bill one of our friends blurted out the password and she asked us to follow her. And so we did – through the restaurant, out the back, down a flight of stairs, through the kitchen to a basement…that had been transformed into a bar, and as we walked in, the bouncer asked each of us for the password. It was the kind of thing you watch in movies and it felt like a really cool experience.

The bar itself was one we all fell in love with. This was a Saturday night and the bar wasn’t crowded. In London, especially central London, that’s impossible to find. But, either not a lot of people knew about it, or the bouncer didn’t let people in if it got too crowded. Whatever the reason, we had managed to find a bar on a Saturday night where we weren’t a part of a sea of people, constantly being pushed against one another.

The bar had these little grottos for groups to sit in, and we found one that was unoccupied. It was dimly lit by candles and fairy lights and had a real charm about it. It was a tequila bar, as well, so we got drinks, played more drinking games, and danced in our grotto until we were ready to call it a night!

The ambience, the food, the company, and the secret bar all added up to a very enjoyable experience. This was one of my favourite nights out in London, and The Breakfast Club is definitely a place I’ll be frequenting!

That’s all for now, folks!

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “Trust me, you can dance” – Vodka

 

Posted in Sleepless Night

3 am Musings

Do you ever have one of those nights where you’re really tired and all you want to do is sleep…but you can’t? You just lie in bed staring at the ceiling, thinking about all the things you generally avoid thinking about, and obviously, that just makes it harder to fall asleep. Yeah? Well, here I am, sleep-deprived and headache-driven, writing a blog post.

I spent most of the day today reminiscing about the city I went to college in. A friend of mine is visiting there next week, and is staying around the area I lived in for three years, and talking to her about all the great places to go and things to do made me nostalgic. So, for the rest of the day my mind kept going back to the city and the college I went to. Now, I really enjoyed college, but I’m glad it’s over. While 90% of my college experience was great, somehow it’s the bad 10% that remains stuck with me. Whenever my mind strays to my college years, it focuses on the bad rather than the good. And therein lies the reason for my inability to sleep tonight.

Before I went to bed, an old friend from college texted me, someone I hadn’t spoken to in almost two years and talking to him took me down college memory lane for the second time today. Thereafter, I spoke even further about college with my best friend and I just knew I wouldn’t get any sleep tonight. You see, thinking about college for me is equivalent to thinking about people and memories I’d rather not remember. On a normal day, those specific thoughts are filed away in some deep crevice of my brain. However, they’re always on alert to pop into my conscious mind at the first mention of college.

Still, being really tired and clinging to a shred of hope, I went to bed willing myself to sleep…in vain, evidently, since I’m up writing. Somehow this has always been my thing. I write when I’m low, or when I’m going through something. Penning my thoughts and feelings onto paper calms me, helps me put things into perspective, and just gives me a chance to vent. I have a difficult time talking to other people about my issues, so writing seems to be the most therapeutic for me, it’s where I express myself the best.

You know when you tell yourself not to think about something, that’s the only thing your mind can then think about? That’s exactly what happened to me when I went to bed tonight. I kept telling myself to think about anything but college, which my brain obviously interpreted as “fill my mind with only thoughts of college and nothing else”.

I don’t even know what this post is about anymore. I don’t know if it was even about something to begin with. I am now wide awake at 3:30 am, listening to Christmas music, wondering what to do till my brain tires and shuts down.

Anyway! That’s all for now, folks!

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “My eyelids are heavy, but my thoughts are heavier.”

Posted in Christmas Shopping

First Pay Check, Christmas Shopping, and Flying Home

I got my first London pay check this week!

I work as a Student Ambassador at my university, a job I quite enjoy, even though one of the jobs I did last week involved me freezing outdoors in -2 degree weather for 7 hours. However, I digress. I got paid just in time for Christmas shopping and I couldn’t be happier.

At the beginning of term I’d told my family that if I was to have just one year in London, I wanted to experience the entire year here. So, I’d decided not to go home over the break, choosing instead, to spend Christmas in the UK. As December came around, though, my mother realised I had a month off of university and asked me to come home. To be quite honest, I am a tad bit homesick and welcomed her offer, but rationalized that it was already December and the ticket prices would probably give me a heart attack. As expected, the tickets were too expensive, and I had to tell my very disappointed mother that I wouldn’t be going home to meet her any time soon.

A few days later I got a call from my mother asking me to check prices again and book a ticket back, no matter how much it cost. I argued, playing the ‘it’s too expensive’ card, but no one has ever argued with their mother and won, so I found myself on the internet searching through flights back home, again.

Mothers are also never wrong. I don’t know why she called me that particular day, so hopeful that the prices wouldn’t be too bad this time round, but she was right. While tickets weren’t what you’d call cheap, they were rather decent for this time of year. And so, after receiving a text from her saying “BOOK RIGHT NOW”, I followed her orders and booked a flight back home to India.

We came to a compromise on the dates, as well. I wanted to spend Christmas in the UK, so I’m flying out on the 27th and spending New Year’s back home with the family.

Coming back to the pay check, now that I’m flying home for the holidays, I can’t go back empty handed. When you live abroad, it’s an unwritten rule that you have to return with a bag full of gifts. I live in a joint family, which means that I live with not only my parents but also my aunts, uncles, and lots of brothers and sisters. Getting my first pay, with the added bonus of Christmas and going home, made this the perfect occasion to go all out for the family.

So, my friend and I headed to Westfield in Stratford and spent hours searching for the perfect gifts for everyone. At the end of a successful shop, I had managed to buy things for 7 of my brothers and sisters, 3 of my closest friends, and most importantly, my pet dog.

This was the best way to spend my first pay, because everything I bought was for people I love, and every gift was something I knew would be special to them. After all, the Christmas spirit is all about giving, and I am so glad I embraced it.

That’s all for now, folks!

Hope you’re having a good morning/afternoon/night wherever you are!

Cheers,
Zee

Quote of the Day: “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” – W.T. Ellis