This One’s About Me
I’m on a train to London, and I’m having a great time. I don’t just mean on the train- I mean in general. I’m tasting every minute of my life right now and looking forward to the next. I’ve just finished the first term of my last year of under graduation. It’s been full of downs, as always, but it’s had some very, very, good ups. The last of my classes finished on Thursday, and I’d been invited to a lovely Christmas dinner after. I was the only vegetarian, so they made a plate of gnocchi just for me, on top of an absolute spread. I had some wine, some Malibu, and a lot of soda before I left with some friends well after midnight. Still, one of them complained that we were off too early- I told him that they didn’t need to leave ‘early’ with me, that I had a train to catch in the morning and a trip I hadn’t packed for at all. He assured me that they wanted to give me company on the way home, but not without a light guilt-trip. I was too excited to feel guilty, though. This trip has been a long time coming. It’s my third year in England, and I haven’t set foot in London outside Heathrow! It’s ridiculous, I know, but with my tendency to take far longer to dig my feet into the ground than anyone else, and then with the pandemic, it just didn’t happen. I waited for a reason to go, and this term I got it- Criminal Court. I could explain further, but I won’t because this is funnier.
I left on Friday and had a chaotic day of travelling. It took four trains to get to Lancaster, where I finally got to see my great-uncle and great-aunt. This, too, was a long time coming. They would visit us in India about once a year when I was younger, and each time my great-uncle would give me one pound for my impending visit to England. I was always very excited for their visits. Growing up, I instantly liked any relative that took more interest in me than asking the usual questions:
‘So what grade are you in now?’
‘How did you get to be so tall?’
And my favourite series,
‘I saw you when you were just a baby! Do you remember who I am? What’s my name?’
Now these are all well-intentioned, and I don’t fault them at all. I wouldn’t know what to say to a child either, and I too would resort to these classic one-liners; but from a child’s perspective, the relatives that really talk to you, let alone start a sweet tradition with you, are the best ones. It was delayed for the same reasons as London, but I finally got to see them here. My great-uncle- I’ll just say grandpa and grandma, because that’s what I call them in my language- my grandpa picked me up at the station, where I arrived in a cloud of guilt because I was two hours late. There had been disruptions, but my calls and messages hadn’t reached him, so he had arrived at the station early and had to wait. He was lovely about it. He didn’t seem to mind much, or he didn’t show it. We drove to their home in a village about twenty minutes away, where my grandma was waiting. I sat by the electric fire and warmed up with a cup of tea, and had the cosiest, laziest weekend with delicious South Indian meals. On Saturday, we read by the fire. On Sunday, we drove around Lancaster and by the coast, then we read by the fire. Dinners were eaten with dance and quiz shows, and episodes of ‘Would I Lie to You’. I was spoiled this weekend, truly.
Now it’s Monday. We woke up as early as four. I was very apologetic that I’d booked a ticket for a train so early, but it was the cheapest one and an Advance Single, so I couldn’t get another train later in the day with the same ticket. I was given a cup of coffee and put on the train in perfect time. My assigned seat was next to a man in an otherwise fairly empty coach. I still sat down where I was supposed to because I wasn't sure whether the other seats would be filled with each stop. Then this man said to me, very diplomatically, 'If you want to sit where you have more room, this train doesn't really fill up,' he pointed to indicators above the seats, 'you can see which ones are available, and you'll have more room with an empty seat beside you.' It's the most polite way I've ever been told to piss off. I'm glad he did it, though, because I didn't know if I could sit somewhere else. I laughed and thanked him, and now I'm in a window seat with a table. I love a good train journey, and this one is nearly four hours. It gives me time to read, and to write this. I should be working on one of the essays due on the first day of next term but… well…
The sun is still down at seven on this lovely winter morning. I love views of the English countryside on a train journey, so I’m looking forward to sunrise. In London, I’m staying with my best friend from back home. We’ve known eachother fourteen years, but these are the first three that have gone by without our being together. We’d see eachother every day at school, and then, we go off to university and suddenly we don’t see eachother at all, though we moved to the same country. Still, our friendship has remained the same, as any worthwhile one does, and I can’t wait to see her in a few hours.
Back to how I’m having a great time with life. It’s like I’ve climbed up the rungs of a very high ladder, balancing carefully, and now I’ve got this view of everything I have to be grateful for. I am, for the most part, happy. Sometimes, my balance on this rung falters and I’m reminded of how I need to hold on- it takes effort to be up here. Most of the time, though, I’m able to forget that. Romanticising absolutely everything helps. It’s an important part of my story, isn’t it, when I’m sad? I must experience it because it will make me better at a lot of things. When I’m happy, of course, the romanticisation gets far easier. Still, there’s always a little seed of worry that it will be over soon, one I have to push aside with great effort- I have to hold on to this rung of the ladder and regain balance; but what helps in any state of mind, as pretentious as it sounds, is reading, listening to music, doing artsy things and watching certain movies and shows. These things make you love yourself, and so you treat yourself better, I think.