Monday, July 19, 2010

Day @ IHC: A play in 5 parts – Part 4: Lunch of sanity

What a morning it has been! My initial plan was to submit my documents by 10am and then wander over to Covent Garden and treat myself to a haircut and possibly a manicure and pedicure before lunching with shoefiend. Of course that plan has been unwittingly thwarted by dimwits in ties.

Instead I have had to call her from the crowded basement of the Indian High Commission, to shout over the hubbub of a thousand voices, to say that I will be late and who knows how long this could take. We have contemplated cancelling but it is so rare a day when we both have childcare somewhat sorted that it would be a shame to miss out a gander in the centre of town.

So after what seems like, and actually is, hours of my life drained away in the High Commission I am out and wandering up to Covent Garden in the last of the winter chill. There is still no discernable ash in my view although the sea of grey office workers out for their quick lunch look ashen enough. I’m early so I pop in to the Transport Museum and buy this Blue Plane for Kid who chewed it at a friend’s house. (Then again, he chews everything, so this is just me thinking this was cute. Or cuter than sachets of silica gel he keeps finding.)

We meet at the Covent Garden station. I can barely stand as I am exhausted from the physical exertion of the queue and the mental trauma of my experience so far. We retire to the ever faithful Wahaca, and over Margherita’s (decadent in the day on a working week, we know, but who are you? the Margherita police?) I attempt to make light of my morning. Not being able to laugh at some of the hell could turn me into a manic depressive. Luckily for me Shoefiend is an interactive audience, tut-tut-ing and laughing at all the right places. And then she goes on to match me by telling me funny anecdotes or bits from other rubbish service providers, all of which make me laugh and my misery seem shared. This is why I love her so.

After lunch we go and sit in a coffee shop and eat some decadent desserts to go with our cappuccinos. But no matter how much we laugh and how much better I feel I have that pebble-the-weight-of-dread rattling around in my stomach knowing I have to go back to collect my documents. Will it be all better?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Five X

1. This is a break in my mammoth saga of just one day at the IHC. It has been hard to write without saying horrid spiteful things and giving suggestion as to how they could change them (that’s the OCD in me). First, because even months later I nearly hyperventilate each time I begin to write the next part. And second, not many people seem to be reading it - although so many are happy to continue commenting on vapid writing and bad photography all over the Internet – see what this day has done to me? Turned me into a mean mean mean person, that’s what. Third, because its summer and oh Summer how do I count the ways in which I love you? The weather is too glorious to write about the depressing pit that that High Commission is and how humiliating they make Indian citizens feel. I have not abandoned the series, no sir I have not, but I need to get my blood pressure back down before I can attempt the other 2 parts (although one is quite amusing).

2. Talking of summer, these lovely long days of sunlit 10pm skies are just so soul reviving. Our routine has needed constant tweaking since I went back to work nearly 3 weeks ago. It seems to be settling down somewhat and with the Kid in bed by 7pm I have a lovely long evening of unwinding usually interspersed by laundry and dinner making before the zzz’s hit.

3. The long days also mean that I am reading a lot nowadays. And I have a book recommendation – Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig. The past year on maternity leave has slightly shrunk my world to mainly include baby related things. And although I have been reading voraciously even through this year it has been the combination of this book and the return to work that has once again engaged my mind with the bigger wider world. The book is an intersection of lives of the middle class and immigrant underclass of London. It shows the intersection of heart and practical need and how they don’t always find a happy medium, in even the most carefully laid plans. It looks at the lives of people trying to escape from different situations; a Russian Au Pair who goes missing, a Ukrainian girl sold into prostitution when she leaves her country to become a waitress in London, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker searching for a better life and his missing wife, a white South African looking for his path through teaching and an American woman escaping a failed engagement. All these people’s lives intersect with the main protagonist Polly Noble, a lawyer trying to juggle her life as a busy, single, working mum. Here is a better review than mine. What I took away from it is how insulated a life we live. How even our most basic givens are luxuries for other people and how often we are not mindful of the luck we have in the life we live. And while it would be lovely, on the basis of this book, to say something preachy like we must all do much more meaningful things with our lives, I won’t. Instead I would just say that this is a book worth reading because it has given me more interesting things about the world that I hadn't known or thought to think about. Things that influence how I live my own life and view those around me. I urge you to get a copy and read it.

4. Being back at work is somewhat surreal. Even 3 weeks in it is almost as if I never left. I’ve been thrown into the thick of things and with so many new colleagues and new work these are exciting, if slightly challenging times. I am enjoying the adult interaction and thinking about the needs of the world is a far change from thinking about what vegetables to mush up for the Kid’s next meal. The only negative bit really is the travel in the tube where I can almost see the infectious germs looking at me and laughing. I already had a 12 hour tummy bug which caused projectile vomiting as one of its nicer aspects and caused a day of sick leave to be taken. How much longer before I am dramatically ill I wonder?

5. We are off on a short break, away from the crowds of urban sprawl. Although we will have our laptop I will not blog or answer emails unless urgent. I also fully intend to ignore my phone (as far as possible). I know this seems anti-social but I seriously want some switched off time for us all and there is no way to do this but cut clear of the technology that hounds us day and night. I fully intend to lay in the grass with a glass of something nice, watch my son crawl through his pop-up tunnel and attempt to walk, eat simply, read voraciously and rest deeply. I hope the weather lasts. See you in a week or so people.