A short story that I wrote at work last week during my lunch
The sun crept over the horizon. The sea glistening. The water just a sparkling golden sheen, The waves roll in and crash into the rocks, as though they are completing an act of violent vengeance. The sound only disturbed by the chirping birds. It was this sight that man decided to plummet to his death: in paradise.
The rugby world cup is on and apart from the glorious memes that have been brought by the chaos of the French team, the typhoon and the of course the various online communities that I am participate in have all reminded me why I love this game.
Now I always claim that cricket
is my second religion, but rugby without a doubt is my #1 sport. It’s the sport
that I spent a decade going to every match in Durban to see my [Natal] Sharks
constantly lose by narrow margins, saw the magnificent Jonah Lomu and an
opportunity to see every international team. I can still remember the daring
runs of Henry Honiball as he caught the ball on our 10m line from a clearance
and dart across the field, zig-zagging through the field about to score only to
be tackled last minute. Or seeing Ollie la Roux give a massive heave to the
scrum as we [the Sharks] were looking to set up the attack on the blindside. Or
how about Jonah sprinting down the opposite by-line and just being in utter awe
of this man and how feeble everyone else seemed to the manner he played.
I got to meet so many players, as
the Sharks back then, had many players with family involved with farming. Thus,
with my Dad having an agri-brokerage, many of them would come to the office to
learn or become a client. There isn’t a player from 1997-2005 that I haven’t
met that played for the Sharks. I was able to meet my heroes all the time.
…cricket is my second religion, but rugby without a doubt is my #1 sport
What was odd, is that I never played rugby for my school in South Africa, but at home I was either playing cricket or had a rugby ball recreating the moments for the game. Football was there, but it has never been my passion sport. I love Tottenham, but I would rather see the Sharks lift the Super Rugby than watch Spurs win the Champions League, even if I know more about Tottenham right now than the Sharks. It’s true.
Recently I’ve been chatting to
non-rugby fans about the sport and I know that I still smile when I’m
explaining the sport to them or what’s going on in the world cup. Seriously
everyone should watch the Quarter-Finals this weekend, especially with Japan vs
South Africa which South Africa, is no doubt the bad guys. Either they
knock-out the incredible hosts who have class beyond class or become the team
that lost to Japan twice in a row at the World Cup. Japan have been playing
some of the classiest rugby this tournament and where
There’s Wales vs France, with Wales being France’s Australia and the French team, being…well French. This is a good point to point out that my favourite player of all time is Thierry Dusautoir, the former French captain. I never saw play in the flesh unfortunately, but anytime I saw that the French team was playing, I made sure that I could at least watch the extended highlights. I model my modest school playing career on him and Richie McCaw. Dusautoir is the embodiment of rugby in mind. He went to university and got a degree as a chemical engineer. He was incredibly polite on and off the pitch. He was a tackle monster for Les Blues racking up record 38 tackles (and he scored France’s try) in the 2011 final against New Zealand, where I still think Craig Joubert was affected by the home crowd and not calling some of the blatant off-sides by the All-Blacks. He still had the grace on pitch to just get on with the game and show the entire world what rugby is about. Playing hard, with respect for the opposition and the referee. His performance in that game probably sealed world player of the year, even if other players won more trophies that year, no one has got close to replicating a performance of the pitch that Dusautoir displayed that night. Thinking about the few times that I have “fan-girled” have involved Christine Amanpour, meeting God (aka Sachin Tendulkar) & the rest of the Indian team and whenever I get to meet a Springbok. However, I have no clue what will happen if I ever see Dusautoir in the flesh. I only imagine is that I lose the ability to speak.
Alright enough about the great man, let’s continue with the France Wales game. Wales should win, but honestly is the French team can play like Freddie Michalak (Michalak is one of my favourite players, also French, as he played for the Sharks and embodies French rugby to a tee! He was decent player, not bad but acceptable at this level of rugby. However, for around 10 minutes a game he was world class. His footwork, kicking, ability to spot a pass was second to none. He was France. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he would return to normal as though he had shown the world what he could do and that was it. And yes, that is a very biased look back on him, but I don’t care. He helped us win the Currie Cup. Ummm back to the French team) does for 10 minutes a game for say more than 30 minutes, they could cause an upset; even if the captain doesn’t know he is the captain (yes, that’s not a joke. It happened)
I have no clue what will happen if I ever see Dusautoir in the flesh. I only imagine is that I lose the ability to speak.
England are playing Australia which
should be a comfortable win for the English in my opinion. Any chance of
Australia winning relies on the magic of Beale and their captain Michael Hooper
playing the perfect game in the breakdown. While they can do so, they will face
an England squad who could go on and win the tournament, if they don’t play the
All-Blacks in the semi-final (I can’t see Eddie Jones going past the Kiwi’s).
Why? The England team can and would take the game to the All-Blacks, even if
they didn’t have Eddie Jones as the coach. However, even though Owen Farrell is
the one of the many star players of the England squad, it’s his temperament and
ability to manage the game that will determine how far England go in the tournament.
Honestly, I could go on and on. Even
if I don’t have a broad knowledge of the sport now. However, if you stuck on Uruguayan
second division amateur rugby in front of, I’ll probably watch the entire game.
I don’t care how skilful the game is or how big the tackles are. I love the
After being made redundant and spending so many years in the UK and to be honest, a bit lost, I decided to call my school and see if there was an opportunity to go work there and if not, could I just visit it. Turns out there was a role available, but they were also willing to have a look at my CV and see if they could connect me to some jobs closer in to London.
Now my old school is trying to establish it’s “Boys Network” only after 375 years after its foundation; but, the network of Old Fish (I refuse to use the other name, it’s so wannabe-esque) is very loose.
…love, love of God and our neighbour
The Saint Augustine Rule
Now it’s no secret why I chose to go to New Hall. I decided that this was my school, because of the Avenue. The Avenue is the historic driveway to the school which has trees either side of it. Why does my school have this amazing road? It’s only a former palace for King Henry VIII. So, as I drove into the school, I noticed that no one was behind and decided to jump out of the car, engine still running and grab a picture. Why? Mate, I LOVE that drive. I always smile when I remember Nuno sliding on the ice and falling over with Antoine & Harry losing their minds laughing as we made a dash to Sainsbury’s in the snow. Or taking a walk in autumn when leaves change colour. Or in the Spring walking and smelling the flowers while avoiding revision for exams. Or in the summer, when Alex and I grabbed some cider and had a walk down the drive just chatting about life and what was to come when our exam results rolled in.
Now the school has a special place in my heart for another reason. It was my home for the longest period of time in the UK (if we exclude my Ba’s address). It’s were I met my best friends, had some of my best memories and did a whole lot stupid shit (most which I dare not repeat online).
It was weird entering the school and needing to wait for Dom Walmsley, a kid a couple of years below me in the boarding house, as I needed a guide to show me around because I don’t have a background check. It was odd, because a few things had been moved around the Ambilake Room (sp definitely needs to be checked, but that’s how it’s sounds spelt out. Fun fact, the room prior to be reception was used to walk around in the winter for exercise). The Griffin/Dragon (an ongoing debate, though I’m on team dragon at the moment. It makes more sense because of Henry VIII’s Coat of Arms) has been moved indoors.
saw Dom, so instantly I told him to put his hands away and gave him a hug. You
see, growing up in Campion meant even if you weren’t great friends or even
friends at all, there is a strong sense of trust between all of us. There
aren’t many people I wouldn’t want to see again or catch up with, I grew up
with them. Everyone is like a relative.
So we started off with a quick chat about the role, spent most of the time looking at my CV, plus Dom had scoured the Almuni network and found some people for me to get in touch with. With the formalities over and done with, we moved onto the more exciting part. Lunch! Now, my school had a decent lunch when I went there, it got boring after a while; there was enough choice to be satisfied.
A tour! (even if I pretty much know the school inside-out: tends to happen after living there for four years).
I found out that the willow tree I planted has been moved, instead they have planted more trees in the area and there’s now a farm. A fucking farm. I went to a posh school, a privilege that I am thankful to my parents for, but the concept of a farm is what I would call peak New Hall. I mean, it’s a farm. There are chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, goats, sheep and pigs! In the Campion House I grew up in, I willing to bet any money someone would have been attacked by a goose.
then wondered around the back of the pitches where I will never forget some of
the most gruesome training I had to deal with Mr Briggs or playing matches in
the fog/rain/sleet. The standout one, was doing three laps of the pitches with
a partner carrying a 15kg bag at the end of training. Not the worst, until Mr
Briggs saw Kelvin walking and ordered all of us to continue running and
complete an extra lap!
the Sixth Former’s café (I know, a café!), we went into the Sixth Form centre
where I got to catch up with Mr Alderson and Mrs Innes; whom upon meeting me
asked me the most important question: who am I dating and if not, why not? You
see Mrs Innes, knows me and the rest of the family far too well sometimes.
However, the reason I still have affinity to the school is due to connections
like this across the school. We discussed other things as well, but that’s for
us to know and you to speculate (honestly, nothing to interesting, just a
regular catch up).
then headed to Radcliffe to see if Mrs McGlynn was around, she wasn’t but Mr
Crosby was around! Mr Crosby is my old Year 11 tutor, who I will say my class
constantly harass. I mean we were teenage boys who had a bit too much fun! In Year
10, we hid Mr Parkinson’s laptop! We weren’t exactly the best set of behaving
children. Mr Crosby had a meeting to attend, thus I agreed to come back and give
a speech at registration to his current class.
then had a walk towards the Chapel where we bumped into Dr Thomas, my old physics
& astronomy teacher, then into the new historical/heritage room. There is still
no Chaplaincy board… I digress, but that is where I bumped into Mrs McGlynn and
we had a lovely little chat before she returned to the Year 7’s who were going
to get an etiquette lesson (I actually still remember getting some etiquette lessons,
something I use when I need to look posh). We then headed into the archives,
which while not fully open, was one of the few areas of the school I had never
been to, might be worth going back if I can full access.
then headed back to see Mr Crosby’s class and gave them an impromptu speech about
my time at school and all the dumb things I did, what the reality of the future
may be and remember to have some fun; the opportunities to muck about and make
mistakes will be easier to fix now than several years down the line. Also told
them to listen to Mr Crosby, but prior to him coming into the room, I told the
class all the pranks we pulled! Sorry Mr Crosby?
then headed to catch Mr Bickersteth and ended up bumping into Mr Sidwell, my
old housemaster. We had a little catch up before needing to part ways as Mr Sidwell
had a meeting to attend.
took me to the astro where the Campion legends of Thursday night football were
made. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities to recreate some old memories.
We then headed to the nursery which is a brand new part of the school, but not
much to see to be honest.
we went to the Nun’s graveyard, because it’s one of the best little hideouts in
the school. It’s important to remember that we are indebt to those who came
before us and that simple message of the St. Augustine which is the basis of
the school ethos: “…love, love of God and our neighbour”.
After a quick prayer, we headed back and had a chat and said my goodbyes to Dom. On the way out I got a bit emotional, as the school has provided me with so much to be grateful. Did I have the best start in life? It’s hard to know, but I’m sure it’s pretty damn close to being it.
Now don’t ask me what brought me to do this, but I decided to share one of my online dating profiles with reddit. Then I decided to talk about it on the podcast and now I’m writing about it.
Now let me say, that some of the people were harsh as fuck. Held nothing back and others were a bit more supportive. The vast majority said nothing at all (if all 400+ views are unique), but that’s cool. Most people online are just lurkers.
don’t ask me what brought me to do this
Something I say far too often
While all the comments were, in the end of the day, fine. One thing that stood out to me was being called Fobby or told that I look like a Fob. Which, if anyone grew up with me, would find hilarious. Especially how patriotic I was as a child to my beloved England and British heritage.
However, I don’t mind being called a FOB. What concerned me was the negative connotations with the term. No one says it with a positive attitude. It’s a put down. It’s an intra-ethnic division. It’s not just that there’s a difference in culture, but that one is more superior. Now, if you say: No, Hanik that’s not what I mean when I refer to someone as FOB, rather I mean it’s someone who is from the motherland. Then why not say that? FOB isn’t a reclaimed term and you may say that you are trying to reclaim it. However, unless you are Fresh Off the Boat; it’s not your responsibility or right to claim. Heck it’s not even my right to claim, after being called one.
How do you respond to being called a FOB? I would, in real life, tell the other person to stop being a wanker. I might also just shrug it off and not let the person get to me, honestly, I’m too sure how I would react. Just being weirded out by the term.
Otherwise, look for some changes coming to the blog. As you may be aware, I’m on a podcast and I’ve decided to make a page for the blog; beyond social media. It will just explain the basis of Chai Noon and a quick bio of Kiran and maybe a photo if he adds one.
This week has been über busy, but let’s be honest, it’s always busy. Been going out every night, but the highlight this week was seeing Aditi Mittal.
Now, if you don’t know who she is, then all you need to know is that she is hilarious! Quite useful, given that she is a comedians. Forget laugh out loud, she is tears rolling down your face laughter.
I went with Carl, who I hadn’t seen for a few months, we didn’t even know what to expect from the show, but I do prefer watching comedy completely blind.
Forget laugh out loud, she is tears rolling down your face laughter
Haven’t had such a good laugh in ages!
I had grabbed
front row seats, because why the hell not. If you go to a show, and the
comedian decides to pick on someone, it’s more memorable if it’s you (or your
Turns out that
Aditi gets nervous before the show, so she came out and sat down and had a
quick chat with us, which was lovely. That’s part of the reason I love being in
the front row, especially at Soho Theatre, I’ve always had (or what feels like)
a personal experience with the comedian. Apart from Hasan Minhaj. Bastard.
Back to Aditi,
her show is all about the classical African/Asian problem. Seeking
validation from the boss of the house. In her case, it’s her Mother. Aditi took
us on a whirl wind tour of her life in Mumbai as a comedian and modern feminism
in India. We go through the caricature of her father and why it’s all about her
mother, who is also caricatured, can garner gravitas no matter what is going
on. While some jokes may have missed the non-Indian audience, Carl was still
laughing allowed throughout the show, so no problems there.
got a night of laughter, catching up with an old friend and story that reminds
us all the love within family. So go watch her Netflix special (that’s what she
Speaking of family, I returned home for the first time in years. I went back to Tottenham and visited the new Stadium. They call it The Tottenham Hotspur stadium, but I’ll only refer to it as the Lane. While it’s not the same as White Hart Lane, it’s an amazing stadium.
Dan Levy honestly deserves a statue in front of the stadium. It’s not just world class, its class setting. I’ve been to a fair number of stadiums over the years and most of them have been shit. Our home is other worldly. It has cheap alcohol, really cheap alcohol, decent food, you’re close to the pitch, it’s beautiful to look at, the sound resonates in the stadium and most importantly it’s in Tottenham. The walk down from Seven Sister is not that different from when I last came in 2017. It’s still pretty crap. It’s Tottenham after all. However, as you walk, you see the golden cockerel glistening in the light. On a brand-new stadium which rises out of the ground. A spaceship, given how modern it is compared to everything in the surrounding area.
I’m not going to go into the details of Son taking apart Palace and seeing the first new player in ages (cheers Daniel) when Ndombele walked onto the pitch. What I realised is that I miss going to live events. I know that I’m writing here, on a very non-live format. However, seeing the football reminded me that sport is best viewed there. Not necessarily for the view, though mine was gorgeous, but for everything else that happens. Most importantly is the singing, in football at least.
I miss going to live events
The main takeaway from this week
Singing at a pub or at home is not the same. The roar of the crowd, where the sea of emotions ebbs and flows, is best felt and sent across to the team in the stadium. You can be nervous at home, abroad or surrounded in a Spurs only environment. It’s just not the same. If you are not a sport fan, think about watch a concert on YouTube vs being at one. It’s not even worth comparing. Being there there, if you catch my drift.
I also miss how easy it is to escape at these events. No phone out and about needed. Just focus.
Also just wanted to point out
that I’m on a podcast called Chai Noon where myself and Kiran talk about our experiences
of life and being brown.
Ten whole years. Okay maybe not ten whole years, but on the 06/09/09 I moved to the United Kingdom, to head to boarding school. To live a dream inspired by Harry Potter, but more so Spud (a legendary book). Back from 15 years of living abroad in the Commonwealth. It’s the day I moved to New Hall and met my best friends (and had some wonderful memories, a lot of stupid moments too), I then went on to study in at three different universities where I made some more great friends, moved between the UK and the Dubai; before settling back in London.
I love the UK
What’s bizarre is that I love the UK. It’s one of the best countries in the world to grow up in. Sure, there are loads of problems, it’s not perfect; however, it’s my home. I am British after all. It’s home for the time being at least. And that’s the bizarre part. I don’t want to die here. I don’t want to spend the rest of my days here. I can’t I imagine being truly happy if I never leave these shores. Why? I would say growing up abroad has a lot to do with it.
One of my favourite songs to listen to is La Mer, though my favourite version is the Bobby Darrin version which is known as: Beyond the Sea. Apart from helping me along the path of becoming a hopeless romantic, it has always made think of the future and the yearning of what is beyond the horizon. I have never been one for dreaming of small little achievable goals. I dream big, because of my darling football club. Tottenham Hotspur. There’s a quote attributed to Bill Nic that I tend to base a lot of thoughts on: “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high… so high, in fact, that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.”
I dream big, because of my darling football club
Though being a Spurs fan has meant that most of our recent success have been stuck on my FM saves…
That’s the crux of it this, aim for the Moon, Mars,
Jupiter and everything beyond; because if you don’t have the drive to go big,
then you won’t even achieve the medium. That’s become of my own life mantra that,
this is only life we have and I’ve got to try and achieve all the dreams I have;
if I don’t try there’s no going back. It also results me over stretching myself
and that I don’t always achieve what I capable of showing to others.
I have a good breadth, but not the greatest depth. It’s not as though I cannot focus, it’s just once I know I can do something, then I look for the next challenge. Doing something well and knowing that I can do it, means that I no longer care to prove that I can. That knowledge for myself, is good enough; unfortunately this system won’t be paying the bills. However, I believe that I’ve come into the world with my own riches. Chasing money won’t get me where I need to be, it will get me to the point of eternal poverty, to really butcher one thing Seneca was trying to say; poverty is not being happy with your current situation. That’s it for me, enjoy my circumstances. Know my privileges and make the world a better place. The aim is to just do live it. No hope. No try. Dream? Yes, but live those dreams.
Apart from helping me along the path of becoming a hopeless romantic
Talking about Beyond the Sea
Back to the UK. I love my pubs, the terrible nights out in Essex, a Geordie accent on a lass, arguing on how to say grass, making a fuss on how my tea is made, what is a proper queue, being able to shout ORDAH like Bercow, being able to chat to a bobby without fear of losing my life or paying a bribe, throwing abuse for 90mins at the footie, cheering on the home nations, having the Royal events to attend, able to speak freely and living on the greatest city on earth: London.
Yet, I am willing to give this all up, because I know that there are places out there that make you feel alive in other ways. London may be number one place to be, it’s the not the place I need to be right now. The dream is still to be PM, don’t worry about that. However, I do think that my destiny is abroad waiting for me.
Am I living the dream, in England? To an extent, it’s a dream. Jerusalem is being built among these Satanic Mills, but at the same time do I want to be living in this kingdom of heaven? I’m not sure. My eyes are always beyond the sea, where another kingdom of heaven lies.
My trip to Switzerland, was all about catching up my friend Allen before he heads back to Shanghai.
The theme of the last couple of blogs have been friendship and this is the finale of the three (that’s the plan). How to say goodbye to someone you care about, whether to let go and how to stay in touch. Well that’s the plan. I’ll do this while going through my tour of the Swiss-German side of the country.
Having someone to say goodbye to
Before saying goodbye, is it worth it?
Now, I booked this flight out of the UK as soon as I had enough cash to come and see Allen. You see, Allen is my older brother and dear friend. I know this through the times we spent growing up in New Hall, where Allen introduced me to my first real sip of alcohol. Red Star Vodka in a mug. Warm. I had two sips, with my two friends in the year above. Allen and Samko. It was not the first time I had alcohol, that was when I was around 5 and given the wrong drink. This was the first when I decided to have a drink. It was not the last of our drinks together, or just ourselves, but we had a good time. That’s the first mark of a good friend, someone you enjoy being with; hence when Allen told me that he may have to leave, well then I had to go and see him.
AT (my nickname for Allen), got a massive hug as soon as I saw him, because that’s what I said that I would do, but the reason why I he was getting that hug was more than not seeing him in a while. Allen is one of those people I regard as my emergency contacts. I’ll call him at 4am and ask for help and I’m pretty sure if he picks up, he will help. Not try to, but actually help. This is something that truly matters. I’m sure that anyone on my contact list would try to help, but AT is one (of a few) I’m sure will do everything possible to help me and then follow up to make sure that I’m okay. Does AT feel the same way? I’m pretty sure that we can rely on each other. That’s why he and my very good friends get a massive hug. It’s that bond that you have, knowing that even if things get messy, there’s someone who is willing to help you out. Got someone similar? You got to hold on to them.
How to run off a cliff
I don’t why, but I have this fear of heights. Yet, I tend to climb any thing high and then stare down questioning what I just did. My aim is to get comfortable with throwing myself off a plane and go skydiving! Easy to say, but I’ve been slowly working on it. Walking around the top of CN tower in Toronto five years ago, to climbing some tall towers across Switzerland and going up some tall towers in Dubai. So, logically running off a cliff is next.
Paragliding was amazing. Let me tell you that. The sheer bliss from lack of noise when you’re up and above it all, is something else. It’s instantly addicting. It’s a reminder on how precious our planet is. Plus I got to see Yash Chopra’s Lake from the sky. Ultimately, that’s why I wanted to paraglide in Interlaken. I wanted to see some DDLJ ( Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) and other Yash Chopra locations: sue me!
Preserving Future Generations
We continued our running around by heading to Oeschinen Lake and going for a swim. Now, the only way to describe how cold this lake was, is simply to say that my balls shot inside my body as soon as my toes touched the water. It was soo so cold. Instant regret to swim, but I don’t think I would have done it any other way. After the swim we went further ahead with a hike and got some spectacular views of the lake and mountains.
Further into the mountains
We then moved onto Lauterbrunnen to go stand behind the waterfall, but this meant going back on ourselves for part of the way. The reason, why not and we had a Swiss Passes, so why not use them to the full. We got to the falls, before sunset but it meant we missed our train and had to wait for the last train out of the area and get home after midnight. Spent some time chatting about the day over a beer, how we all suddenly became experts in paragliding and going through pictures. When we returned to Olten we grabbed a pizza, which honestly for such a dump, was great food. Far better than any takeaway places in the UK.
Do dragons have shoulders?
A farewell requires a bit of strength
Some moments of unplanned synchronisation are beautiful. AT and I planned to leave for Luzern at 9am, but as soon as our alarms went off, we both just thought nah and went back to bed. No words spoken, just a quick glance and we knew that we could sleep a bit more. However this decision meant that we had a day of rushing around ahead!
Dropped my bag at the hostel early and got some cheap tickets up and down Pilatus. Now, we were not in the best mood to climb a 2,128m mountain, so we took a boat ride around the lake. Grabbed a desperately needed tan, got into a queue, to get a slot for another queue. That queue was for the steepest cog wheel train. A casual 48°. Went up into the azure sky. Only to get a bit peckish. It was such a hard day so far. Went to the hotel grabbed a window seat and chatted with the clouds coming at us.
We moved onto climbing a higher point and grab some photos. Mate, I cannot express how bad some people are at taking photos. Ended up taking some selfies for a decent shot!
We took the cable down one station, mainly we short of time and also our shoes weren’t built for climbing up or down mountains. We went down one level and then started walking down.
You see that’s all you really need with a good friend. A bit of time to hang and chill. No need to say anything fancy, but just to be able to be yourself. Thus this day of just being with AT was probably the best way to spend our last few hours together. Not doing anything dramatic or rushed, that was the day before, but just having time to chill and chat about life. What we chatted throughout the day? That’s just between us, but I can assure you that it was nothing important.
We ended doing what all good friends do. Grabbing a drink of choice and sitting on the side of the road; just talking about the musings of life.
In the end, the trip with AT ended in the same way that it started: with a hug.
There’s not much else you can do in these moments. We didn’t try and make it perfect, or do a hell of lot planning. We had an idea what we wanted to do together and just did stuff with that in mind. It’s like everything in life. Be honest, have a goal and just do. Don’t hope. Don’t fret if you make a mistake. Just enjoy the moments. Remember any lows, make the highs higher. I’m might be upset to say goodbye to AT, but at least I have someone to be upset about. It’s all about dealing with the expectations.
And before this gets too soppy, I’ve already messaged AT several and he’s helped out when he didn’t even need to get involved. Why? It’s what friends do.
A final day in Switzerland
Zurich, roaming around and running to work at 4:30am
So, I left Luzern in the morning and headed to Zurich. Went to the Rhine Falls, which were okayish. I mean, they’re no Vic Falls, but still quite interesting. If you don’t have a Swiss Pass it’s not really worth it, but I am comparing it to the best waterfall in the world.
I came back, got onto a boat for a tour of the Lake and get an all important sun tan! Now I got bored on a 90 minute boat ride and decided to play my brown card. Essentially I saw an Indian couple with a spare seat. So I sat down, in broken Hindi started a discussion (we switched to a mix of mainly English, Gujarati and Hindi) and then had a lovely chat about life, religion and I helped them plan for the rest of time in Switzerland. You know, just a casual conversation. That’s what we all have to remember. Life is too short to worry about what others think. We can all learn from each other, best way is to be open.
I then found a vegetarian restaurant where I had wonderful avocado toast, because if I was going to be ripped off; it should be in style! After explaining to the barman my plans for the rest of the day, what I had done and if he had any advice; he said what I had already done today, was enough for a weekend. Clearly, I am a man on a mission when left to my own devices.
I decided to headed to the University take a look at some Greek artefacts and then ran across town, went past the closed museum (because it’s Monday!) and headed up to a viewing point. As one does with a fear of heights. After learning the Zurich transit system, I went to what the Swiss considered a hill and climbed the radio tower and had view of the city over 820m!
Headed back to the hostel, checked in, went for a walk with one of my roomates and then realised that I had to leave the hostel at 4:49am (gave myself 19mins to get ready). What a quick day. I made it to work and had a pretty productive day.
Explaining the title
Seeing AT reminded me that we are all standing on someone’s shoulder. We all have friend or that help us reach slightly further than we could do on our own. The dragon, is two parts, first it’s relating to Pilatus having medieval legend relating to dragons having a magical healing properties at the top of the mountains. Secondly, I’m blessed to have friends that not only help me reach a higher place (shoulder), but some take me higher than I could have ever imagined (dragon vs giant). AT is one of my dragons.
Joining YLS, making friends, a cooking competition and what the future holds
For the uninitiated, YLS stands for Young Lohana Society which is the youth wing of the LCNL (Lohana Community of North London). Now, Lohana is the caste (or Varna if you want to be more classical) that I am born into. Now, this is a bit of a moral quagmire, because today the caste system is part of a system of oppression; even if it is banned and illegal in India. Caste discrimination does not end in India. I have seen it in the UK and in the US; it’s never official, but it definitely exists. So, with the issues of caste that are present, why would I join a society that still discriminates (becoming officially members, not going out and campaigning against others etc) due to caste? First, I don’t have that many Indian friends in the UK, let alone those from the Gujarati community. Secondly, I have not made that many friends over the last year, which is a major failure in my mind. Third, my father was the social secretary (back in the YLA) back in the day and he is still touch with some of the friends he made back in the day.
Caste discrimination does not end in India. I have seen it in the UK and in the US
The first YLS event I attended was drinks around Faringdon and I arrived on time, which meant that I was one of seven people who followed the time on the poster. That was fine, because I was able to socialise longer and get chatting to as many people as possible; before it got absolutely packed. Apparently there were a 150 people at the event and I got to speak to over 50 people. It was a great night and I left early around 1am because I was heading to Southampton for the cricket in the morning (India vs Afghanistan). Did I make any friends at the event? Well no, because no one would (well it’s pretty much impossible to be friends with someone straight away. You can get along really well, but friends is something else). I made loads of acquaintances though, where two (Nekhil and Bhavs) are turning into friend, though there’s hope for a couple more… Just need to increase interaction time with others.
Now, since I did enjoy myself, I decided to go to the next event which was a domestic cricket match. Now, I don’t like cricket; I love it. However, I don’t really give a damn about domestic cricket, let alone a T20 cricket in England which is a part of a tournament that I don’t care about. Put this way, I’m barely someone who barely cares about the Ranjiv Trophy, but I still love the IPL. I went to the match straight from work and got caught in the rain. With the rain and lightning delay, sat down with Bhavs and chatted away with the game in the background. Shared some snacks that I brought over (apparently I was well prepared) and made sure that I had my thepla! Seriously, who goes to cricket without Gujarati snacks? Well apart from everyone else there! Sharing is caring and I got some decent ribbings about the fact that everything had come from India; the khakra went down really well though, as well as the mini thepla.
Seriously, who goes to cricket without Gujarati snacks?
Thepla is a bare minimum!
The last event was the picnic, which was on Sunday. Due to the weather (there’s a pattern with this in England), there was a last minute change of location, but that didn’t really matter to me. We went to a community hall which had a couple of fields which we could use and had a day of fun (from an egg race to a rounders game). Now there was a “bake-off” which I decided to enter, mainly because I wanted to show off my cooking skills and I wanted to learn a new dish. The rules were simple, vegetarian and picnic food. I decided to enter handvo (ondhwa for some) and make a green chutney to go with it. Now, I was actually quite happy that I didn’t know anyone too well at this event; I got to speak to new people, catch up with people whose name already escape me again and towards the end of the day catch up with my Kaka (well one of the seemly hundreds of them. Also yes, I have a couple of Kaka’s that aren’t that much older than myself; with a few younger than myself to boot). I regret not getting any further plans with people from the event, but I’m sure that with a bit of help I can get in touch with some of the people again.
Rice flour, chickpea flour and lentil flour mixed together. (100ish grams of each)
Add sour yoghurt (500ml), turmeric powder (1/2 tsp) and chilli powder (1 tsp); plus a dash of oil. Mix . Leave overnight to ferment (or at least 6-8 hours).
Then finely chop dudhi, carrot, courgette and cabbage. Mix together [batter]
Then fry chopped garlic, ginger and onions (more than you think) with mustard seeds, with some coriander powder [vaga]
Pour batter in an oven tray (cupcake holder) which has been oiled. Then pour in the batter, then pour vaga on top.
Place in a preheated oven 180C and cook for 1 hour.
Leave to cool and you’re good to go. Or stuff your mouth and burn it. Both are acceptable.
Now, I won’t be attending the event due to work, but there’s still garba coming up in a few weeks (Navarati is at the end of September, though I’ve already agreed to head to several mandhirs already!), plus I’m sure that I’ll be helping out at one of the sewa events. I should be more active in the charity life and feel that actually volunteering is better than just giving some cash (which I still do). Thus, I might write about that soon.
I still haven’t really dealt with issue of caste. Nor have I mentioned how this relates to creating friendship or what the future holds.
So, what to say about a society that is based on caste. It’s weird, slightly backwards and out of touch. You can’t become an official voting member, unless you are born into the caste or marry a member of the caste. However, that’s just if you take everything at face value. The time I spent at events, no one really mentions caste issues (though that could be an issue for another blog post), rather I met some wonderful people, no jackasses or anyone who I might be unhappy to bump into the streets and grab a cup of chai to catch up with. Some who happen to be Lohana and others who just know someone who is in the caste and society; be it a friend who is a commity member, or someone who wanted to meet up with people of a similar age and background. It’s more samaj than caste, on first glance. Is it a perfect split? No, but then you have to remember that the society is for the community to stay close: know what weddings are going on, who died and when the funeral will take place, religious events and general socials. We don’t have to always bowl alone [a Putman reference to my political science nerds] and if we believe that not having a society is the best way to continue our shared history, then I’m sure that the society will cease. Do I imagined that it will be here in a hundred years? Probably will be, just unrecognisable to us now. You may have noticed that I’ve been mixing them/we/I when referring to the society/community/caste and that’s because I’m still trying to figure out, in my own head, how I should feel. My ancestors have definitely benefitted from the system, which has given me a wonderful life, there is no argument against that. The social justice warrior within me wants to tear the whole thing down, the conservative within wants to protect it for future generations and the social animal part of me enjoys that there is a group of people who I can open up to and they will get everything I say to them (okay most things, seriously still can’t believe that no brought chakri to the cricket…I digress).
It’s weird, slightly backwards and out of touch… that’s just if you take everything at face value
If you only observe from the outside. Like most things, it’s far more nuanced.
Now, I don’t think you make friends instantly. Not unless you happen to be around someone constantly. It’s a bit of slog to be honest. And it’s not always worth it, even if there’s always a lesson to be learnt. That’s why I want to meet more people, so I can learn from their failures. I think that I would call Nekhil and Bhavs friends, but we’ve got 6+ years before we become life long friends (takes seven years of resistance before you give up and just accept that someone is part of your life forever, if I remember correctly). I started playing badminton (though playing with Swaminarayans might be a bit of concern) and even tennis, though I’ve been absent for the last week and next (off to Switzerland, see next blog); I owe this all to Nekhil and Bhavs, for having the bollocks to invite me and I’ve fallen in love with sports all over again (I’m even looking for a touch rugby group to play with because I enjoy running around so much! Let me know if you need an extra player). Back to Nekhil and Bhavs; those two even went out for night in town with me and a couple of mates, though these golden oldies were a several hours behind in the drinks! We had a great time and I even dragged them to my favourite dive bar (if you know, you know). We’ve definitely got a thing going here, but I’m sure that it will last for a good while more.
Now, wwith YLS, I’m sure that I’ll be at more events and there will be more friends to be made. I actually believe that someone from the society will read this and reach out to try and become friends with me! As I said before, everyone want an interesting friend & I’m damn interesting [💁🏾♂️] . With the new friends, we just have to wait. Dhire dhire (slowly, slowly). How about old friendships? Like anything, they need TLC (touch, love and care; for the Bird who never knows any acronyms). I don’t buy that you need to wait for someone to reach out to you, because it’s too passive. That doesn’t mean chase everyone, but for those who you really care for and you believe care for you (though if another friend says that they don’t, take a step back and reexamine your relationship), then go make an effort to see them, speak to them and share the love. In practice, it’s hard especially when we have so many people in our lives, so I suggest that you create a list (which is no surprise. See prior poetry) of those who matter. For me, I’m going to Switzerland next week to do exactly this. One of my brothers from another mother, Allen Yuwei Tang may be leaving Europe for the foreseeable future in the next couple of months. So, I have to go see him and give him a hug. Spend some time away from everything else and we’ll just be. You know, when you are with a close friend, calm and relaxed. Well maybe not calm! Planning on conquering my fear of heights, by running of the side of cliff (aka paragliding) and lots of hiking.
I have to go see him and give him a hug
On seeing AT
That’s what to expect in next week’s blog, an update with some views and thoughts on how to deal with the loss of friendship or whatever [supposedly] profound idea that comes to me in the mountains.
I had a couple of interesting chats last week with different friend groups. The main topic, was regarding the longevity of friendships and how over time people just disappear. Involved in their own world and then moving from chatting constantly to weekly, to monthly and then essentially never. They say that’ll meet up and then, when asked to make plans, disappear on short notice: you know, flakers.
Richard said something that we all need to hear time from time: “Sometimes you got let things die.” There is no need to keep in touch with everyone in life, that the effort is not always going to bring in reward and not everyone is going to be there until end.
Well, if you do not know me, I rank my friends. I have a list that is updated every month or so, it’s just a top 100 list.
The reason I decided to talk about friends, was due to going to a funeral. Not just a random funeral, but one of my best friends father died.
Now, I’m no funeral expert, but the speech given by one of the friends was fantastic. It wasn’t a sugar coating, nor was a rip into the man. It was honest and reminded you about the fragility of life; but also how few people you can truly rely on. The friends that stay with you throughout your life are rare and people you need to hold on to.
In this regard, I feel very lucky. My friends are across the globe, I have someone to chat to in most time-zones and catch up with, no matter what time of year. I have my friends that I haven’t spoken to in years, but I’m sure that if I saw them on the street; it would be as though nothing had change and we would pick up wherever we left off. I have my close friends, who I rely on my emotional support on every issues. Finally I have my best friends, the ones that regard as family.
Now how do I know whose who? Well, if you do not know me, I rank my friends. I have a list that is updated every month or so, it’s just a top 100 list. Now I know that this may sound weird to you, but I’ve been doing this since I was around 9 years old. Let’s be honest, we all have list of close friends. However, I guess that most people don’t have actual list like I do. People go up and down the list, some jump right to the top, some never drop below a certain number. It doesn’t matter, as long as you want to talk to them. I have decided over the last few weeks to start making new friends, which I luckily have never struggled to do so. Why? I have my best friends and they’re not going anywhere soon [on the list]. Essentially, some people will come and go; but we gain lessons from people. The more people you know, the more you can learn from their success and mistakes. Plus, I feel as though I lack friends from my own Gujarati community. It’s always good to know people who have similar experiences to talk to… well… let’s say: have similar cultural issues to complain about! Plus, they’ll understand certain things straight away.
“Sometimes you got let things die.”
How do you make new friends? The simplest answer, is be interesting. What does that actually mean? No-one, that includes you, likes to chat to a person who is boring. You want to make friends, you need to go out into the world and do something. Start playing online games that require cooperation, head into pub and start talking, join a book club…whatever. You’ve got to go and do something that you enjoy, just with other people. Enjoying yourself should be the number priority, because we all want to chat to the person with a massive smile on their face: even the biggest twats.
Now, the new friends I’ve made, will they be by my death bed in the future? I don’t know. I’m sure that my best friends will be there, potentially a family and my close family. Don’t need anything else. However, we don’t progress with just focusing on needs, it’s our desires that push us to do more. I wanted more Gujarati friends, so what did I do? I joined a society and next week I’ll be submitting a dish into the cooking competition. Have I already made some friends? Yes. Will I make more? Of course, because I want more friends.