Life in a Suitcase: Scotland to China #1

Date: Thursday 30th July
Location: Dubai airport

Local time: 3AM

We are in a place where one feels the mugginess of the air that aircon fails to disguise. Its like any large airport, but many details such as the wide cyclindrical columns, noticeboards and railings, look like they’ve been covered in tin foil, the shiny side facing outwards. Dubai boasts one of the largest airports in the world, but we enjoyed a brief layover and waiting time. There are artificial waterfalls in each terminal, which seemed impressive when spoken of, but less so in reality. The construct consisted of a vast, black board, standing almost 180 degress but not quite, to allow a thin veil of water to pour onto it. A few lights of varying colours shone, but nothing very special.

Everything is ridiculously expensive. Cafés charge £4 for a cup of tea, £9 for a beer, £3 for a croissant.

I am typing this on the plane now. This is flight number two from Dubai to Shanghai. The plane is huge, with rows stretching back into the 80s, if not 90s. Later I learn that the vessel we fly on is the A380, the biggest plane in the world. Walking past empty sections of cabin, I appear to be one of the first on board. Now I have the greatest pleasure of watching everyone squeezing into the plane. First, a wave of Chinese people, talking in a dialect I cannot understand, most likely Shanghai-ese. Then my folk trickle in, some carrying cellos and things, which qualify for their own passenger seat.

And I asked the guys in the photo below why they blocked themselves from aisle? To my delight, I was right to question, for soon they were asked the flight attendants to rearrange the seating for emergency purposes.

We are flying with Emirates and I like it. In economoy, each seat is supplied with nighttime goodies zipped in an Emirates pocket and a drinks holder on the back of our fold up table of rather intelligent design. A rotating internal hoop is hinged within holder, enabling you to store your drink upright and not at risk of spilling. So smart; so simple. Other details I like include the gradual dimmed tinted cabin lights, and the faux-wood panelling outlining each window, and decorating the bathrooms. I wonder what it is like in First Class? Palace? Free manicures? One hopes.

Things are beginning to feel real now. I think it’s once you notice that most of the passengers around you are flying home.

Location: Shanghai

We passed immigration quicker than expected and found ourselves sitting beside our baggage carousel. The shiny faux marble floors have been polished to a icy sheen, like the surface of a curling stone. We touched down at 3:30, stepped into the bus at 5:10 onwards to dinner.

Shanghai = giant metropolis. Ominous buildings, towering pylons dominate the East side.

Now I am about to collapse on my keyboard. We have a concert tomorrow in Shanghai Grand Theatre. Goodnight.

Life in a Suitcase: Atlanta to Scotland

Time of writing: around 5am
Date: 25th July 2015
Reason for delay: Prep school WiFi makes WordPress go all funny. I posted this blog via email.

24 hours ago I was in a plane across the Atlantic ocean. In three hours I will be in transit to my next destination, Perth, Scotland, and three hours later I will be in a rehearsal room. The dizzying side effects of cross-continental travel bring to mind the scene of a jubilant ceilidh, with a live folk band and hundreds of people on the dance floor. The night is coming to a close, the people are drenched in sweat and bruises, though feel nothing for the current dance, Strip the Willow is numbing these sensations from their consciousness. There are spinning couples everywhere, accompanied by foot stomps and vigorous clapping, the kind that give you muscles aches and tender skin the next morning. You’re either watching people get dizzy or in vertigo yourself holding hands with your other half, desperate not to let your sweaty hands slip out of grip.

After 32 beats you are launched into the skies. Where to land? You see a man and grab his arm, only to be launched again into the clouds. Then you fall again into another spin, with a new man, who pulls your arm so fiercely your feet merely brush the floor. Some twirls seem to last forever, others whip you forward like a car passing on the motorway. You feel not only excited and exasperated, but your face wears an expression of constant disbelief and astonishment at the number of spins your own body is capable of enduring. But suddenly the body stops and the music keeps going. All that is moving of you is your own rapid breath. Filled with despair, having reached the bottom of the line, there is nothing you desire more than climbing back up and do it all again. But you know that it will be a year before that happens.

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Life in a Suitcase: Canada, VSOIW 2015

Greetings from Whistler, Canada!

I’ve just returned from a full orchestra rehearsal at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Institute, and have chosen to blog over another early night in my plush queen-size bed. The rehearsal ended at 10pm by the way, AND I still feel the pull of an 8-hour jet lag.


We are playing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (Ballet Suites) and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. Here’s a photo from the VSOIW Instagram account – I’m the one sitting closest to the lens at desk 5, ‘suicide corner’, and I am loving it there. I feel like God and can see everything but without any tremendous powers.

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Friday 13th March 2015 – Being a bad student: music, music, music…


This is terrible. Still 2 weeks to go until Spring break, I already feel like I’m on vacation with only my indulgent interests at heart. If you think you have it bad, let me tell you a little story…  Continue reading

Postcards from Places: Miscellaneous Moments in Time… #YoungOrchestraForLondon #LawSchool #2015 #WhatAmIDoing #FingeredOctaves


When the day allows it, I get several minutes which I try to fill by reflecting on my life as it appears now. Often I’m walking South across Waterloo Bridge, with the striking faces of the National Theatre and Southbank Centre and the London Eye all facing me. The former two are the ones which make me dream about sitting by a window at 9am with a nice hot chocolate, pen in hand and my diary, ready to reflect on my life in full. Adequately, sufficiently, satisfyingly – whatever the right word is.


Twice in the last month I’ve gone to bed at 20:30 or 21:30 and woken up at 2:30AM or 3:30AM. It feels quite nice being wide awake making food for later in the day when the whole house is silent. Maybe I’ll encounter the mouse that so kindly leaves droppings in our cabinets? I never actually do any reading though. I seem to just be writing emails and stuff.


You know, maybe I’m just not born to play fingered octaves. Firstly, How can you stretch the distance of 7 with fingers of a distance of 2? That’s theoretically impossible.

I’m trying everything okay: slow practice, holding my hand in that particular position, rhythms, breathings, kinesthesia – WHY IS THE BODY SO STUBBORN. Okay, it’s okay, I have over a fortnight to work on it before I have to perform it. Oh hell, I have to perform them. Oh-ho-ho no.


Oh man, I just LOVE Thursday nights. Because tomorrow it’s…

Fri-day, Fri-day
Left all my tut work too – late
Everybody can only catch up on – the – week – end
Fri-day, Fri-day
Law took up my whole Wednes-day
If only I could go out with my friends now? BUT:

Pro-per-ty, Pro-per-ty, NO!
Law and So-cial Theo-ry, NO!
Tort, Trusts, Tort, Trusts
Have you read those judgments, yo?

Vive la 2nd Year Law Fridays…


When I was seven I played in the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain. I remember seeing on the 3rd page of every concert programme a black-and-white photograph of a man with brilliantly bright eyes, shimmering curly hair of the kind that one would dream of achieving after a perm, and a smile that would warm a lifetime of music.

That man is going to be standing on the podium beside me next week as I lead the Young Orchestra For London.

What. The. Fuck. 





Law and Social Theory class has taught me a lot about bad behaviour, the after effects of bad behaviour and the inescapable reality that is curator of our lives.

I saw colonialism in a new light after we studied it in the context of hegemony. How dare the British appropriate Indian traditions, customs and deities to fulfil their own hedonistic, capitalist goals!

The class has taught me a lot about inequality, opportunity and morality; the content of power, cultural capital. Maybe one day I’ll have the nerve to write something on a related topic. I’m not very good at talking about politics.


I have no idea who should run the country next election. But I think we need a fresh face who hasn’t got a reputation of destroying the country, so maybe Labour for now.


I’m getting rather deft at Photoshop and general techie stuff. I feel very cool when I make things on a computer.

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In hindsight, I do love Friday evenings, because I spend them with the best teachers I’ve ever had in Law School. There is Mr C who teaches me Trusts and Property, and Mr B who teaches me Tort.

Mr C, forgive me for inquiring, but I do often wonder about your hair, or rather, lack of hair. Or rather, your baldness. Do you polish your head? Because your crown looks like a moonstone. You do keep an impressively neat beard, may I add. I also wonder what you do in your spare time. You cycle, I can see that, but Mr C I have a strong suspicion that you also own a motorcycle. I hate missing your classes because you speak the law like a poet. How can you make Trusts law sound simple and elegant? How? You do make us feel bad for not reading the judgments. I’m sometimes a bit scared. I wonder where you come from, because I cannot identify your accent. It’s English, but there’s a laziness in the tongue, which makes your Ls sometimes sound like Ws.

Under my assumption, you probably do a less elegant activity in your spare time. No, you’re not really a ballroom-dancing-yoga type. But you do like quirky sweatshirts with grungy illustrations and you wear jeans and sweatpants to class and top it all off with a pair of skaters’ trainers. I want to write more about your character because I want to work it out.

Mr B, I think it’s insanely awesome that you were Captain of your University Challenge Team not so long ago. You studied at Oxford, Cambridge AND Harvard. You are very pleasant and kind and patient. You are not egotistic, nor are you frustrated. How can this be!

Last night Mr B, you made sure we understood Tort Causation by holding our hands, as we dived through Wilsher, Fairchild and Cool v Lewis, even after the minute hand took 15 steps too far. You are cool. Your flatmate owns a bowtie business.

I think the only reason why I might ever get a good mark in Tort is because of you. I am going to buy you a present after the year.

I will buy a present for you too, Mr C.

Neither Mr C or Mr B ever utter a word which feels misplaced and undesirable in a sentence. How can you do that. Teach me how.

You are cool. And I love it.

Wednesday November 19th 2014 – It’s That Time of the Year

Last week, I felt really proud of myself because I did many things.

  1. First Pilates class, courtesy of the Law School, with many more to come.
  2. I started part-time work at the National Youth Orchestra (yes, I know what you’re thinking; will I ever stop talking about them?)
  3. A moot.
  4. I cycled to the Royal Academy of Arts and saw the Anselm Kiefer exhibition, which, by the way, is mind-blowing.

Then I realised – surprise, surprise – that these activities added nothing to my actual degree and I was behind on my course. I was exhausted too, mentally numb and emotionally drained. I had a minor breakdown.

Noggin: 0

Life: 1

I gave myself some legal therapy (LOL) and did some Property Law reading on Sunday for a class next day, which, to my horror, an hour before my seminar, could and should have been left until the following Monday, because it was actually a Trusts seminar I should have prepared…

Noggin: 0

Life: 2

…I then picked up my MacBook from the repair shop, having paid a ridiculous £42 to get it checked. IT WASN’T CONNECTING TO ANY WIFI ANYWHERE ANY PLACE ANY TIME – acting like a naughty two-year old with a short-attention span, the ultimate frustration for someone who has to use Adobe Dreamweaver and the ‘Command-Shift-I’ function, available only on a Mac. Then to discover that the WiFi card had not in fact suffered any damage at all?! I waited almost a month, couldn’t they have checked it earlier…

Yes, upon receipt I checked that it worked, and of course it connected, in front of the techies. Ha, ha, so funny little MacBook Air. I won’t accept that attitude…

Noggin: 0

Life: 3

It is that time of the year when things are just not going great.

The weather’s not great.

You can’t get up in the morning because it’s oppressively dark and cold.

People are bloody panicking about applications, Vac Schemes and not knowing what commercial awareness is.

The laundry basket is full.

You realise that you’re going deaf from playing the violin, yet your teacher tells you to,

PLAY LOUDER, for God’s sake. I’m sorry but I just can’t hear you; I have to look up to make sure you are actually still playing in the room.


Your eyesight is deteriorating from reading and staring at words on a brightly lit screen.

You are losing out on sleep.

Time is running out.

You’re not sure what on earth you want to do with your life.

You talk to ecstatic friends but feel no ecstasy of your own.

You are brain-dead by the time you get to Thursday night orchestra rehearsals and cannot play a note right and feel as if you’re letting down the whole universe.

You just can’t understand anything in Law and Social Theory.

The pressure to pursue a ‘super-duper-professional-global-exciting’ career at an ‘internationally-renowned-commercial-practice-excellence-high-quality-major-deals-innovative-leading’ tall glass building, grows to an unmanageable density. There must be other adjectives living in the Oxford English dictionary that could be used…


At the moment my life feels like a Property Law module.

They say studying Property law is unlike, say Contract Law. There’s no linear, step-by-step process. It’s a ‘massive ball’ (or snake pit more like) into which you dive, swim and try to make sense of the surroundings. They say that the law will ‘click’ by April, one month before the exam, or even just 4 days before the exam.

Well, let’s hope my life clicks into focus before one month/four days before it’s all over.

Noggin: 0

Life: 999

N.B. The author of this post is okay. She is merely having a tiny-weeny departure from milling structured, rational thoughts in her mind. 

Reading week: Hemingway, Burlesque, Halloween, Food

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My neck and legs are in agony and it’s all my fault. I can’t even look down at a book without flexing and feeling a sharp twang behind my head. Did I sleep funny?

Oh yes, I do remember. It was the hair-throwing head spins, one slow and two high-speed rotations in the routine. How many times we did the routine, I haven’t a clue. A dozen times maybe.

For all my life, ahem in the context of orchestral warm-ups, I’ve been advised to never tip your head ‘too far back’, but ‘just enough to see the ceiling’. Last night I went so far back I could have thrown my head out the window and into London Bridge station. Who’d have thought that a burlesque class could put such strain on the human body?

Ooh hoo hoo, I finally danced burlesque! In response to your first question: no, I did not take any clothes off nor did I wear a corset and nipple tassels. This wasn’t traditional, Dita-von-Teese burlesque, though that would have been a truly enlightening experience too. It was ‘modern’ burlesque class, you could say, run by a student society, and I danced in my electric orange socks. With the exception of the sole male in the class, I was the only one not wearing heels. In response to your second question: yes, it was super sexy.


The style was more like the stuff of music videos and dance shows like ‘So you think you can dance?’ which I had never done before. The song we danced to had a 3am Friday night chilled groove, but in fact each pose and gesture that was paired with a percussive, determined drum beats followed the next like lightning. You had to be slick, controlled and cool.

This was hard stuff, a bit like the challenge of playing slow music.

“Haw, yeah only three long notes in the whole piece woop woop I can chill out!”

And then you realise that it isn’t possible to hold a note of that length without getting arm cramps or trembling your bow or distorting the tone, and damn you just missed the next transition.

So in a burlesque context: I looked like an idiot for quite a while. It would have helped if I didn’t have the orange socks.

I don’t know how the dancers do it. It’s amazing and I admire their talent and body strength. Do you know how hard it is to lift yourself from the floor with one arm and fling your legs from one side to the other?! Don’t underestimate burlesque dancing or pole-dancing for that matter. It’s an athletic discipline which is very tricky to master.

Thanks to KCL Dance Society for such a great class. It was a perfect way to end a day of reading Tort and Trusts cases.

That’s my main feature of today’s post done. I was going to include ‘Bourdieu’ in the title, but then deleted it after realising that this would create an expectation to explain his theory to the same depth, and that is just not possible.

Other reading week antics:

I finished a novel for the first time in about 3 years. I’m proud of myself even though it is miniscule. It’s beautiful book and I highly recommend it.

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There is free food 5 minutes from my university. I’m going to go there every day from now on.

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I explored East London and discovered strange things.

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Photo courtesy of Ms President.

Photo courtesy of Ms President.

I had a fun time at the Law Fair.

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I’ve been a-cookin’!
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And cycling…
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Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a good Halloween. Don’t dress too sluttily, because that’s just embarrassing, but do enough so that people can fear for their lives or laugh at you on the tube journey home. Yes, I went home alone looking like this…

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The Rise of the Superhuman

She is back, after an unintended three month hiatus.

She has returned after recovering from a deadly bout of the notorious disease, Freshers’ Flu. 

She has clicked ‘New Post’ on her WordPress dashboard after finally acquiring some basic, Sociology-For-Dummies understanding Durkheim’s analysis of modern and primitive societies, at 2:30am.

Not only is she back, but she is roaring on a new noble steed.


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Snapshots of Atlantic City

I’m in America now visiting and travelling with family. I would have written sooner, but lately I’ve been addicted to making mistakes on the violin and playing with my five month old baby sister.


I’ve also been occupied by my four year old cousin who is so spoilt that he has demanded to pee in the car half a dozen times and championed in doing so. Refusing this wish is suicide for your eardrums. “I WANT TO PEE I WANT TO PEE I CAN’T HOLD IT IN ANYMORE.” So he uses one of my legs which is propped on the front armrest for buttock support as he urinates into an unused Starbucks translucent frappacino cup the water and juice he drank about twenty minutes ago.

Jesus, it’s like, a teaspoon of pee. This abominable little boy can’t even keep in a teaspoon of pee?!

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First year is over: FREEDOM FOR FOUR MONTHS

I have been released.

How to describe the moment I left the exam hall? It’s a mixture of the following two clips.

Watch from the beginning of the clip to experience the journey of this year.
Then skip to 1:37 if you get bored of it.

Watch from 1:40:25


No more late nights at the library, unhealthy diets and panic attacks.

No more irritating people in the silent library zones. One of them was oblivious to the fact that his nose made a wheezy sound whenever he inhaled and exhaled.


No more sights of people studying hardcore. The diagrams, textbooks and glum faces gave me one too many nervous pangs.



I’m not sure how to continue this post.

It’s been a while since I did anything human.

I’ve been living in a cave.

A little bit like Howl’s room:

But less dreamy and romantic.

Add a few dusty surfaces, smelly shoes and discarded plates – an overflowing laundry basket on the side.

A tower of books on my floor. A suitcase from a month ago.

I haven’t even touched my violin since NYO.

The muscles won’t know which way to push and pull.

The hands will ache during the first few practice sessions, but it will be okay.

I can have violin lessons again too.

My first rehearsal of the summer is on Tuesday evening. So many concerts to come, never mind a tour to Belgium. We even have t-shirts and stickers.

I can start on KCL Bar Society stuff. Updating the website, thinking up new pieces for the newsletter. I can contact a few lawyers and arrange some meetings.

I can plan my summer! I have so many things I want to do.

I want to read literature again.

I want to find a summer job for a bit, maybe.

I want to start watching French films and restart my mission to learn more Chinese.

I want to swim.

I wanna go back home to Edinburgh for a bit.

Meanwhile moving into a new house for next year!

I have a huge backlog of social activity to catch up on. I’m referring to the negative space during exam time, and also from over the entire year.

The fact that I can count the number of times I’ve been out with my fingers.

My, my.

Today, my first free day, I did some first-timers.

I had a coffee made from a Moka Pot for the first time.

I visited my first London cemetery – Highgate Cemetery – which hosts Karl Marx’s tombstone and other charming sights.

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My phone died by the time we came face to face with Marx himself. Here’s a Wiki image of his resting place for your interest.

Less effective in this image is the darkness which he casts with his eyes. Each eyeball must be the size of a grapefruit, which allows plenty of room for white, iris and pupil. The eyes are alive. Even the natural moisture (eye juice) is carved in.

I also had my first Magnum ice cream for the year.

I am very overwhelmed by everything. And so very, very tired.

Gonna go now. I’ll write something more substantial later.

Ciao x