Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog
Saturday, October 30, 2004
A new post
<aside>What? Two posts in the same day? Incredible.</aside>
The best thing about studying film in a place like Bristol is because it is a culturally active city. Just the other day, I watched the Cabinet of Dr Caligari for the first time on a proper big screen. German expressionistic BW silent masterpice from just after WWI runs to packed houses at the Watershed as part of this Bristol Silents season. In fact, Bristol has more 'arthouse' cinemas in the centre. There are only two cinemas that show the likes of Wimbeldon and Bride and Prejudice. Moreover, every place offers students healthy discounts.
< another aside>My only hangup with UK keyboards is that they have switched the @ and " keys</aside>
Ha! I am back!
This post is about some Bristolians I have met thus far. Long time coming.
BTW in other news, I have realised that there is no point in trying to 'entirely settle down', therefore am taking things as they come: the great local ales, the company of lovely women, and of course the idea of an approaching winter (Suddenly English expressions that sounded stupid in India like 'a warm welcome' seem to make a lot of sense). Yes, pictures are on their way, but to have an idea of where I live, you could check out this link from BBC Bristol.
Mickey: A SouthAfrican 'Pommie'I met while at the Youth Hostel. Apart from greatly admiring Gandhi (while pronoucing his name perfectly), he love cricket, and believe it or not, speaks Tamil—something he picked up from his neighbours in ZA
Robert: The first Englishman I befriended. He hopes to one day become a media baron. Right now he runs a couple of websites. Londoners web and Blackworld
Matt: One generous soul that now resides in Australia. While clearing out of Bristol, he offered me his bicycle for free. That was over breakfast one rainy morning.
Martin & Jutta: A lovely couple who are part of the chaplaincy team at the uni. Helped me a great deal in getting settled. Both of them make great soup; and you must be here on a soggy afternoon to know how valuable a good bowl of steaming soup is.
Nadeem: My first Pakistani friend. In fact, I have not made any Indian friends yet. It appears that in Pakistan they are all told that Indians, especially South Indians are casteist vegetarians. I somehow seem to reinforce the latter stereotype.
Melissa, Maff, Eva & Cleo: My landlady, landlord, landchild and landcat respectively. I did not know until quite a few weeks into my stay that Maff has a band; and did not know until one funny morning that Cleo loves to pee on the bed.
Carlos, the Italian girls, the Spanish boys, the Czech ...: These are the people who I befriended while I was briefly 'homeless' my first week in Bristol. (No I was not selling the Big Issue yet). Carlos is a Spaniard from Venezuela and Los Angeles. He is also a bald paleontologist who think Barney the dinosaur is gay. He also reminds me of my nephew. The Italian girls were covered in the last post about Sophia Loren.
The Chinese: There are so many of them around. Back to the old joke about every third new person on this Earth...
The Binge Drinkers: If you have not read the very popular newsitems yet, come to Bristol city centre on a Friday or Saturday evening. You might even spot me rugby tackling a traffic island.
South Asian: Not just Indians, but Asians. That's what we are all called here. Not too many in Bristol, which is very good. But if you go to Easton, you can find some. And don't forget to visit the sweetmart. I am not talking about Indian food though which is readily available at the nearest Tesco. Go there just to see some brown faces.
First Buses: That is the name of the bus company here. Frankly, coming from a very well connected place like Chennai, the service seems to be inadequate, but hey, I have never had to stand on a journey; always find seats.
David: He is a PhD student at the Drama Department and also teaches us. He has worked in Chennai, and loves South Indian food. So much so that he has vats built at his place to ferment dosa batter. He also has a highway-restaurant regulation size dosa kall (Imported via someplace in London). The two of us have a plan as well. In case none of this cinema/drama stuff works out, we are gonna start the first South Indian restaurant in Bristol centre.
Old Books shop 'proprietor': A common sight in Chennai is also here. Referred to as a book fair here, it involves a crazily dressed man / hippy like woman selling old books along the harbourside. Dirt cheap, throwaway prices; and importantly, out of print books.
Football fans: Another remarkable Chennai exprerience outside a Sony showroom, where a sizable group of men were watching some important final game through the window.
Reunion Girls: Flatmates of a friend here; four amazingly beautiful girls from the Reunion islands. Guess what, one of them has a greatgrandmother who is 'Tamoul'. Guess my language gets back to me in infinitely strgange ways. First it was a SouthAfrican who knew all the right swearwords, then it was my landlord's sister who has lived in Pondicherry, and now some Creole girls from a tropical paradise.
Quirky filmstudents: They don't like watching the credits, and believe it or not, some of them absolutely hate The Godfather.
Famous Bristolians: I would love to get to know two of my favourite performers though one of them is dead and the other lives elsewhere—Archibald Leach and a certain tall person with a funny walk.
The Malayalee: Is there any place on this Earth without them? They are in Bristol too.
Apart from that, most Bristolians, and I guess it applies to most Britishers, know where Madras is. They also know that I being from Madras don't speak Hindi, or Punjabi; and I am pleased that at-least a few of them know that I am not from that B�$%&*Wood. They also keep talking about a Chicken Madras, which I guess is something like a Chettinad Chicken dish.
Monday, October 04, 2004
And where do I begin?
Ah! Of course, on the 18th when I left Chennai.
However, I had not yet left India; I spent two days in Gurgaon with my cousin before boarding the flight to higher education. Talking of which, I second Kingsley's opinion about grad-school giving you very little time to blog.
Getting back to my story, I did a few things in Gurgaon - probably the most desolately overpopulated (ah! An oxymoron) place I have seen.
The most important thing I did was to buy some warm clothes that have come in very handy. You are right Prince Roy: The empire had a reason.
I then did a rather crazy thing. I went bowling with my cousin. Not very crazy considering the fact that I was getting perfect scores, until the beer started to take effect. My balls (bowling balls) were veering away until I lost all the lead I had collected until the final attempt (or thereabout... never quite remember!) when I brought down all of them pins in one go. Very filmy, but I did not quite come first, my cousin's husband won though.
After getting tipsy in Gurgaon, it was British Airways hospitality all the way through to the UK. My response to the hospitality was rather bizarre. You see, I had got very excited about north-Indian food and had hoggen on all the rotis and aloo I could lay my hands on. So I was pretty 'gaseous' on the flight. Thankfully, the nice lady who was in the seat beside my had a cold (thankfully for her!)
So after farting my way through the 747, I finally got to gaze at London from upstairs. I have this boardgame called Scotland Yard back home (every other reference is 'back home' isn't it?). This game has a map of London on the board with the Thames running through it. I saw the very same image from up there. The pilot played tour guide while the air-traffic-controllers were playing dice.
Once I got off at Heathrow, it was 'really nice' (with emphasised quotation marks): I was made to wait for hours in a queue for international students until at the end of the line was a lady who wanted my to take off my clothes. So my very first experience in the UK was of being naked and straightened out against an x-ray machine by this smiling very courteous British lady. Not bad aint it?
Then, I boarded a bus from Heathrow to beautiful Bristol (I don't want to talk about the �1.50 phone call I made from the BT %^&*$� phone). Bristol is a nice place and I got a whiff of its character the moment I got here. I got a free lift to the Youth Hostel and was boarding with the cast of the Lonely Planet TV shows: Americans discussing politics, Australians discussing beer, South Africans discussing cricket and Gandhi, Britishers discussing women, Spaniards discussing English... For a few days I had truly Ashok Hariharan type encounters.
To be frank, I did not feel too much culture shock. I mean, you get so much British TV in India that you 'know' that everybody talks like the've got sumthin's stouk sumwhere! Frankly, there is nothing like meeting different people. Almost all stereotypes are broken. Yeah! The accents are true. The Spaniards do talk like Benicio Del Toro, but not all Americans like Bush; not all Britishers like Mrs Thatcher! And not all Italian women look like Sophia Loren.
My next set of adventures involved getting to grips with the topography of Bristol. I had to find a place to live in; and after countless phonecalls (free, because they were made from the Univ office) and many more house-visits, I ended up boarding in a large room which has a view to die for in a house with a resident landlady, a landlord, and the landkid. Nice people and a nice very large Victorian house.
I also 'checked out' Bristol; its sight, sounds, liquor... (OK don't get any ideas already). One of the reasons I find this place interesting to study creative arts in is because it has a tiny Indian/South Asian population. But out of curiosity, and because of a need to buy some provisions, my new Pakistani friend and I set out see Easton - the area! Not bad, I met a Tamil speaking lady who helped me find the right foods to buy. The other time I encountered Tamil was on the historic Clifton suspension bridge (of which I have a sexy view of from my window). I met this group of (what else, but) IT guys from Chennai.
So, My classes have begun, and I am on this absolutely crappy slow computer (The difference between India and here is that the internet is faster than the machines) typing away into the evening while the clicking noises around me in the Univ computer centre slowly dwindle.
More adventures to come as they happen, and when I find the time to blog them.
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