So on the second Saturday we spent in England, we took the train back to London from Sheffield (from Meadowhall Interchange to Doncaster and then direct to King’s Cross). The taxi driver who drove us from our friends’ house to the station was of Pakistani origin and we had an interesting conversation with him in Hindi (with sort of political overtones, so not for this blog).
I love so much the sheer amount of information that is available in all the train stations and coach stations and interchanges and at the bus stops. There are route maps and bus maps and brochures. I picked up a whole load of paper, just as souvenirs. Culled a lot of it when we were packing to move from Vizag. Of course the best part was, it was all in a language that is de facto my first language. People I spoke to on the street and elsewhere didn’t seem to have issues understanding my accent either, but my mom was disappointed no one sounds like the Beeb! I explained that the Beeb accent is largely an artificial one. Ruth and Tom said perhaps some people sound like that in some parts of London, but we didn’t meet any. Anyhow, the weeks I spent glued to Silent Witness, Waking the Dead and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries on BBC Entertainment paid off and I understood the different accents quite satisfactorily. Actually, I think I’d have been intimidated if someone had sounded like the Beeb. This way, my accent was just another among a thousand others.
Not that I watched the series to learn the accents. Also the years of growing up with British writing meant I got a thrill just from recognising street and place names :D. Like unexpectedly stumbling upon this while looking for something else entirely:
That was on the way from watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.
Or cutting through from Marylebone Street (after walking through Oxford Street) en route to Portland Place and seeing this board:
Almost enough to make me forget the ache in my feet (our feet ached the entire two weeks! Never have I ever walked so much in my life.)
I made a lifetime of memories from those 13 days. And if I was nostalgic before the trip, now it’s like “I have to go back every year!!!”. Dreaming on…
While on the subject of language, this is the first time I’ve lived in a place where I don’t even read the script. English is ubiquitous, obviously, but I wish I could read Malayalam too. A penfriend from Cochin in my youth tried teaching me but I remember very little of it. One weekend, I shall try to locate her, as I remember her address by rote. Do you think I’ll be able to find her? It must be almost 20 years since we last corresponded. I’m hoping at least her parents will be here, even if she has moved away. I found a schoolfriend in Mumbai when we moved there, 11 years since we last met.
I think all my posts for the foreseeable future are going to be rambling ones. Stay with me if you can!