Yé Ye | 爷爷 | Grandpa

He was a lone traveller, a truly gentle man, who had nearly lost all his teeth. He sat at the back of the bus, hardly spoke, and often wandered away all by himself. When he did speak it was a dialect that nobody could understand.

 

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A gift in Marylebone

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I wish people didn’t visit Oxford Street, for there is little to see that inspires and only stress to be felt under your skin. It is hard to really see any thing when you walk along the pavements because all things that could be seen are blurred by herds of people walking around aimlessly and stubbornly, smudging themselves and all surrounding elements into unnecessary chaos.

It is hard to see Paul at the bottom of the stairs at Bond Street Tube Station, around 17:15 on Friday. He is one tiny, unassuming pebble in the vicious current of rush hour and London shopping mania, easily brushed away and avoided, easily dodged. I walked past him and felt a click in my moral resources* that halted me before I touched in with my Oyster. I wanted to give him some change but I had none on me at the time. Then I remembered that I had organic cookies and chocolate and decided there could be worser alternatives to sweet treats.  Continue reading

Welcome to London: Freshers Week Musings

A law student here writing. Prepare yourself for dry sentences and stony frankness.

This time last week I was packing my life away into seven Morrisons heavy-duty Shopping Bags, two suitcases and two rucksacks. The synthetic grocery bags were each assigned to a category and one suitcase contained shoes, and the other accommodated a 3-month Fall/Winter wardrobe. Winter clothes are a nuisance because they take up masses of space.

Collecting and collating my belongings proved an enjoyable last evening with my mother. Surprisingly our moods and ideas appeared to synchronise and there was little or no memorable dispute all night. If there was it would have been over a pair of shoes or a packet of disinfecting wipes and quickly resolved by me accepting her contributions. I knew how easily the final hours at home could turn sour…

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August 21st 2013 – Adventures to the mall and movie theatre!

This past week I’ve been on my laptop the whole time writing, receiving and forwarding emails to the four corners of the world. Of course having such a device is indeed a luxury for anyone. But as my only method of communication, I am growing tired of its use, and therefore kind of deluded.

University this, that, loan, rent, budget,  sending copies to Mum, Dad, and emailing far too many student societies asking to be part of them. Oh my god save my eyeballs from imploding! All made worse by the fact I’ll probably be using eBooks as study material for the next few years, I’ll be glued to this machine 24/7, and that frightens me.

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Not sure how the duo-spectacles thing is going to work out in the long term. Might have to invest in a pair of clip-on shades to fix onto my glasses, like the ones my Dad uses. He looks questionably cool…

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Learning Hungarian – EUCO Budapest Tour Part 1

The Edinburgh University Chamber Orchestra Tour was both a blessing and a curse.

Blessing: I had the joy of travelling to another country that I had never visited before, with friends as well as a group of students I didn’t know very well. There was the music of course: Beethoven Egmont, Glazunov Saxophone Concerto and Beethoven 7th Symphony. The weather (25 to 30 degrees). I travelled.

Curse: Returning to school straight afterwards was, to put it metaphorically, like exhaling a huge amount of breath. A big, disappointed sigh. The tour took me away from the reality of schoolwork, the final days of secondary education, giving me a taste of life after school. I experienced the freedom and simplicity of life: having fun. The foreboding rehearsals, exam and concerts at the other end of the continent together formed an unfriendly welcome home.

I miss Budapest very, very much. This photo summarizes the atmosphere:

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As you can see, I have titled this post EUCO Budapest Tour Part 1. Instead of writing a very lengthy piece on my experiences, I thought my time would be better spent revising for my A-level Music exam next week and practising violin and piano. The size of the piece would also be very tiring to read and I would be more sensible if I were to make concise ‘chapters’ that had more focus in their content. Learning from my previous travelling-writing attempts (see Baltic Sea Cruise tag), cramming everything into one is not worth the effort.

(Not that this is a valid excuse, but Photobucket is being a complete pain in the a*** because it only uploaded a fraction of my photo collection.)

Hungary was a new country for me. I didn’t know where I was going and knowledge of Hungarian was 0% at the time. To start things off, I downloaded a ‘learn Hungarian’ app on my phone. The founders of the app seem to think that most important aspect of language learning (other than the basics of Hello etc) is the ability to flirt with the inhabitants of that country.

In this subcategory, you can learn how to say

I’m a dolphin trainer

because, as you know, a dolphin trainer is the most popular occupation in this day and age. Other hilarious phrases included

You have a sensual voice.

Soon I realised this app was as useful as a toothpick would be for eating a steak.

I learnt my Hungarian from a stranger I met at Heathrow airport. On the bus from the plane to Terminal 3, I met eyes with the lady sitting in front of me and I complimented her earrings. She didn’t seem to know much English so I had to do an awkward point to her ears and ‘thumbs up’ to show my appreciation.

Coincidentally she was taking the same flight as me, heading to the her homeland. I saw this as my opportunity to learn Hungarian; and since she had little English, she also needed me to guide her to the gate. So we made a mutual (unspoken) agreement to stick together during our waiting time of three hours.

Starting the conversation was tricky. I had to embarrass myself by using Google Translate in my efforts to explain to her that our gate would be announced after two hours. There were moments where I thought,

Oh lord this was a bad idea… I should never have complimented her earrings.

Luckily our understanding of each other’s expression grew more competent and we established a ‘game’ of some sorts. On a spare piece of paper, I began to draw and write; she would then say and write the Hungarian translation or definition. This developed into a sort of sight-see around the terminal building, through a number of shops. We’d walk into Gucci and I’d ask what ‘handbag’ was in Hungarian and she’d tell me. She’d ask me how much a £300 purse would be in dollars; I would do my best to act as a device for converting money. We walked through Harrods and I taught her the word ‘expensive’.

I told her I played violin and she taught me the Hungarian word: hegedu.

After the flight I had to dash off to the hotel and meet the rest of the EUCO lot and stupidly forgot to say goodbye, thank you or ask for her name.

I will always value her kindness, help and teaching. Now I know how to say apple in Hungarian! Alma! I even took the chance to say it when I bought the ice cream in that photo. Apple ice cream. Yum.

I’ll write more on Budapest later but now I am going to bed in order to get up nice and early tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

‘I strongly encourage you to have a burger’

Today my mother and I went to a vintage car fair. You’re probably wondering how a field full of automobiles could interest me, so much that I spent half my day looking at them. Clearly I have ‘better’ things to be doing, as I am always told, and should be using my time more wisely. But I decided to go out into the sun and enjoy another exotic cultural excursion – or to admire the art and craft of the automobile – even at such close proximity to home.

Here are a selection of photos from the day!

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I was completely beguiled by everything. Unfolding bonnets and all sorts.

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The size of the cars! (Yes, she looks like me; but no, this is not me.) The little blue one opens up at the front of the vehicle!

 

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Wish we had a boot like this…

 

 

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Having a wee chuckle at the engine?

Ho, ho, isn’t she a beauty!

 

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Boo…

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This gentleman had his own vintage car, along with a working car-horn! According to the document in the wooden frame (below) his grandfather gave it to him.

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Heaps of cars…

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A very pungent stall, its toxic fumes smelt from miles away.

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Me, clearly outshone by the attractiveness of the vehicles.

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This elderly couple had just won 1st prize for their car! Everything about their look screams vintage; the pipe, the goggles, the lady’s real mink fur… Ahh!

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My mother strongly encouraged me to have a burger; as if the pastoral surroundings gave the food more health benefits or symbolic importance.

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Cars older than 100 years!

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…And to finish, a personal favourite from the whole day. I later saw it speeding down the dual carriageway.

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Hope you enjoyed my little adventure. Bed time now.

Wonderful things happening next week! Monday and Tuesday are rehearsals for the Edinburgh University Chamber Orchestra Budapest Tour. Then we’re off to Hungary for several days!

On that note, I shall see you in Budapest. Goodnight.

Meow for money

I saw a rather unusual sight when I went into town.

Along Princes Street one passes a variety of peculiar folk. As you go up, dipping in and out of each shop, you collide with students who spend their energy promoting charities, street performers doing a headstand in a bucket  and see  a fair number of homeless people selling Big Issues or sitting against the wall.

The world walks past and feels sympathetic to their situation. Yet hardly anyone ever drops a coin. After all that dog lying beside him with its protruding ribs makes you rather uncomfortable and scared. Maybe it will jump up, paw you and bite you. Then there are those who have ferrets, fast, wily creatures who manage to crawl everywhere.

No, you’d do better without that. You veer away and avoid proximity to prevent the unknown from happening.

But what if the animal sitting on the man is not a dog, a ferret or a dog-ferret. What if it’s a cat?

A domesticated creature. Elegant, midnight blue and poised on his knee, the only one of its kind in the middle of a bustling town. The man strokes its velvet fur. A very homely sight outside a redundant HMV.

Aw, you say to yourself. That man must be a nice man and cats are lovely wee things. I want to stroke it too.

Before you know it, one person has stepped out of the current and journeyed towards a wall to pat the cat. This woman interacted with the homeless man via feline counterpart and dropped not one, but two pounds into his hat.

What difference a small animal can make to the norms of the high street and the stereotypical image of a homeless man. Will I witness more of this in the future?

Two builders taking a tea break

As the skies begin to clear, the sun hat is being worn more often. This is good news. Soon I will be able to combine shorts, sandals and hat, and turn into a summer goddess.

But that day is a while yet. Edinburgh still manages to surprise us all by hitting our faces with rain. Running to a bus stop with a violin on your back is not fun, especially if it squeaks. The street noise in the heart of town can overwhelm the lilting iambic rhythm. Then turning into the quieter streets, the metal joints begin grinding their little ostinato again and I notice people giving me confused looks.

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January 19th 2013 – Snowmen and a Snow Sphinx

I woke up this morning, did some French homework, went to the sitting room, looked out the window and saw this beautiful piece of art outside the school grounds:Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Wearing ridiculous clothes of the worst combination – I had on me some thick nude leggings and shorts and other layers before adding on long grey sports socks, spotty Doc Martens and a large jacket – I made my way downstairs to take some photos, fearing that it would melt away. Whoever made it, you are awesome.
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(I am not bare-legged I promise.)
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Last night, following the excitement of the first snowfall, some people from school got creative:
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I can picture this in the grounds of a modern art gallery? Contemporary sculptures:
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According to one of the neighbors, at around 10pm last night, singing and celebration could be heard from the school grounds. This tends to happen if we are in happy-playing-outside mode.
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His son got a bit angry with a snowman and started hitting it. Quite a funny sight.

Happy weekend and enjoy the snow everyone!

A Conversation with an Oxford Porter

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Yesterday, I had to move rooms to avoid an electrical maintenance problem in the building. They left a note in the room saying “Sorry for the inconvenience” – anything but! I was extremely relieved because my new lodgings were closer to the main buildings of the college. Rather than having to walk to the very outskirts of the campus to able to brush my teeth after breakfast, I had the comfort of automatic doors, a working lift (to use if I were to feel particularly full after a meal) and a corridor which smelt a little nicer.

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However, when I first arrived in my old room, I was intrigued to find one cuff link placed above my pin board like this:Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I thought it was a mini microscope or telescope! Turned out to be a cuff link with a cost of arms. I just assumed it was Worcester College coat of arms.

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