Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Warm Autumn Ramblings

The clocks turned back an hour last Sunday. For me, this seemed like an official goodbye to summer in the UK. There have been other indications of summer leaving:

Like the frequent rainshowers (hello, umbrella and waterproof jackets)

Like the gazillions of leaves that you “crunch” on while walking. (hello, vacuum cleaner on my room’s carpeting)

Like the drop in temperature (hello, heater, jumpers, socks, socks and more socks)

Like the sun retiring early (hello, lamps)

Like the number of hot coffee and tea I have sipped from a warm mug (hello, caffeine!)

Saying goodbye to the summer months also meant one very sad thing for me—that is having to say goodbye to my flipflops pretty soon. I have been able to still wander around the corridors (and a few short trips outdoors) with it but my love for flipflops is not to the point of frostbite, so it will have to stay indoors or maybe parked in my room for sometime.

Not that everything’s all that bad now that summer is over—rest assured, the novelty of being in England has not exactly worn off. Autumn brings its own charms and most them are seen in the molten colors around me as I take walks. Thankfully the sun still comes out
most days. I also get to look “posh” ankle-length boots (bought from good ol’ ukay ukay) and nice jackets and scarves (courtesy of good friends).

Another hello that autumn brings is the warmth of new friendships. Having settled into the community life in college and finding your niche in it helps warm one up—it could be a hug, a cup of warm tea especially made by a friend, a special dish of extra hot Indian curry, a sweet, encouraging anonymous note slipped under your door, an exchange of private jokes and hand-signal greetings (too complicated to explain!), saturday DVD nights all huddled together in the warm TV room.

As a new friend would tease me when she clasps my perpetually cold hands, “Cold hands, warm heart.”

It’s nice to know that for every goodbye, there are hellos—and that for every draft of cold air, there is warm company to ward it off.

Friday, October 26, 2007

---and there's English (Part II)

...and I also learned that...

Bangers are not some kind of gang but actually something you eat (and we all have eaten it as sausage.)

Aubergines are what you put in moussaka and this makes it sound more posh than saying, “I put eggplant in my vegetarian lasagna.”

Barbies are not what little girls play with, in fact, kids are not allowed near it since its where they grill their bangers and burgers.

“Pee” is not what you do in the toilet but that’s the price range I can afford (and happy to pay for).

Chips are also made of potatoes but they are not thin and crispy (those would be crisps!)—and they are said to go well with fish and vinegar. (and I, of course, still prefer ketchup!)

Courgette sounds more romantic thus the Brits prefer to eat this than the humble zucchini.

Jacket potatoes do not mean fashionable spuds in leather, they’re just spuds baked in their skin. (Ouch!)

When you’re chuffed, it means you’re happy and not irritated or itchy with rashes.

Runs are not what you do everyday to keep healthy---in fact, if you have them everyday, you’d get dehydrated and have to admit yourself into the hospital (so be careful what you stuff yourself with!)

A garage is not where you park your car and leave, its were you “fill” your car and leave. (Fill it with…what? Remember the previous post? Yes! Petrol!! Well done!)

Powerpoints are not produced by Microsoft, but you need to get your computers plugged into them to use your Microsoft (or Mac).

A coach is not somebody who yells at you when you shoot the ball into the wrong basket, its what you might want to take when you need to go out of town.

A jumper is not the coverall Dennis the Menace usually wears—well, actually, he might need to wear a jumper when its cold…

A chemist is not somebody who works at a laboratory, it's a place to buy your drugs, I mean, your medicine.

A hole in a wall is not what you haunt for if you’re on a gastronomic adventure but it’s where you might need to get money from if you do go on one.

The Subway is where you get a nice (and pricey) sandwich and the underground is where you catch the trains.

Broody is not when you are in the mood to brood but when you are in the mood for a brood (ie. bushel of babies!)

I could go on and on…but hey, I 'm still learning! Cheerio for now, mates!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

There's "English"--and there's English (Part I)

Last week, one of doors to the shower cubicle had a post-it sign that said ”Shower not in use.” I thought that was a strange—but I figured that maybe the lock wasn’t working and so you need to use that post to indicate when it's in use or when it's not. But since it wasn’t the shower cubicle I normally use, I didn’t give it another thought. Until one day when I was using one of the sinks in that bathroom and a bathrobed-Brit dorm mate came in and groaned, “Oh no, not again!” and left with a sigh for the other bathroom. It was only then that it dawned on me that “Shower not in use” actually meant it was NOT WORKING.

Obviously, there’s "English"---and there’s English—and no two are the same (nor created equal as the Brits would insist, and I know from experience since they have observed loudly that I spoke American English--observed with an accusatory tone, I might add).

I’ve learned that…

Rugby here is not to be sniffed or administered in “gaping” shoes, but actually it is all about grown men groping and clawing each other for the sake of an oval ball.

A bonnet is not where a bee flies into but where men stick their heads into when they're fixing their cars.

When you go into a surgery, nobody will cut you open, they might just check your tongue and make you say, “aahh.”

You can have dinner at lunch time and have tea in the evening, and be quite full.

A rubber is the innocent eraser and not something that controls population growth.

A boot is not what you give people who are not performing well but its actually where you stick your luggage in (or in the case of the Mafia, dead people).

The first floor is on the second floor and the second floor is on the third floor.

Half nine is not 4.5 but 9:30--am/pm.

People walk on pavements not sidewalks, and so do their dogs.

Brit cars prefer petrol to gasoline.

A crèche is not something you eat but it’s where you put your baby if you have to go somewhere else.

There is no yellow color on their traffic lights, only amber.

Afters are what you look forward to when you've finished your main meal but when you are dining with the Queen you will have dessert instead.

Friday, October 12, 2007

3 in 1 Meme!

Even with my assignments breathing down my neck, I know that I must respond to the three—yes, three!—tags from Ipanema over the past few months (read: centuries ago!!). My sense of duty and responsibility to my fellow blogger is strong and therefore cannot be ignored, so assignments can just wait a wee bit for now. Anyway here goes!

I was given the Thoughtful Bragger, ooops, Blogger award which is my third award from Ipanema (and the forth award if I go back to childhood, this would include my poster-making win at elementary, I think I mentioned this before so you can see how pathetically thrilled I am!). So thanks, Ipanema, my friend, you know you are always welcome if you decide to visit the UK ( as if I have a proper home here, but will definitely make a cup of tea with a spot of milk, my lovely.) See how thoughtful I am? *wink*


B. I was also tagged (also by Major Tom) to write about my second name (or middle name as some would call it), which I unfortunately do not possess and for this reason I sometimes get suspicious looks for immigration officers in airports because I obviously share my not so unique name with a couple of hundred other people. In fact, on my first trip abroad when I was about 17, the immigration officer in the then called Manila International Airport wanted to detain me because I shared the same name with a drug pusher. As if!!

But anyway, I have recovered from the so-called traumatic incident and so will simply give myself a second name and surprise, surprise, its GYPSY. *grin* So, okey, heeeere goes! First, the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

Here’s what GYPSY means to me:

G – gallivanting. As many of you know, due to my job (and my nature) I do a lot of travelling. Sometimes I feel like I can’t do anymore but when I do stay put in one place for some months, I think my feet literally itch. For a month now, I am “stuck” in Gloucester since travel is incredibly expensive here and I need to save up for it. So, to keep my feet from itching, I go out for long walks. In fact, last week, I walked around town for two hours (that’s a personal record)!

Y – you. I am almost always curious about the people I meet. I ask questions and wonder why they are where they are, who they are, and what makes them tick, among other things. The problem is that I'm a talker myself and if you share something that piques my interest, I would end up gabbing about it! Oh well..

P – peer. As in a colleague. I had a long talk with a colleague who insists that I should develop my leadership potentials, but I believe that I can be of better help to people by coming alongside them than by leading them. Plus there’s less pressure, at least, expectationwise!

S – space. Somedays it means outer space. Depending on my mood, sometimes I go off somewhere into outer space and end up asking the same question a few times before the answer registers. It’s a good thing my officemates are patient with me. Somedays this means personal space, I am an extrovert who has a pig-headed hermit living inside me, and its name is Gollum (my precioussss ssssspacceeee…..).

Y – That’s “why” in text language. I have been accused of being over-analytical sometimes. I like to ask why about a lot of things and sometimes it takes a long series of whys before my curiosity is satisfied. But after only a month here in the UK and with the demands of the course I am in, I might just get tired soon of asking why since the lecturers here expect me to answer my own question. But why?! *sniff*


C. The third tag I got has to do with my deskstop. Boy, I feel like some celebrity being obsessed about by a movie magazine! (Humor me…!)

The tag calls for a screenshot of one’s own desktop, including all the possible icons thereon.

As you can see from my desktop--I am sooo missing the Philippines!!

Anyway, for those tagged, here's a complete set of instructions, please read this:

*Upon receiving this tag, immediately perform a screen capture of your desktop. It is best that no icons be deleted before the screen capture so as to add to the element of fun.

You can do a screen capture by:

  1. Going to your desktop and pressing the Print Scrn key (located on the right side of the F12 key).
  2. Open a graphics program (like Picture Manager, Paint, or Photoshop) and do a Paste (CTRL + V).
  3. If you wish, you can edit the image, before saving it.

For MAC users: Press [ Apple] [ Ctrl ] [ Shift ] and [ 3 ]

* Post the picture in your blog. You can also give a short explanation on the look of your desktop just below it if you want. You can explain why you preferred such look or why is it full of icons. Things like that.

* Tag five of your friends and ask them to give you a Free View of their desktop as well.

And so…I am tagging Beng, Abaniko, Aleks, Ate Grace, and Jap!

Thanks again, Ipanema, for the tags! It was a fun diversion from my reading assignments!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Prayer on My Window

The prayer written on my window is in Portuguese. Inherited from a former student from Brazil. Perhaps it was written during times of loneliness, or times when her studies felt like it was too much, or times when all the "foreign-ness" around her seemed overwhelming. Then perhaps she felt she needed to look outside of herself and to God and how He would wish her to respond.


And if this is so, I share her prayer. Here it is in English:

"Like a lighthouse that shines in the night,
like a bridge over the water,
like a shelter in the desert,
I want to be used in a way that pleases you,
in any place you might place me .
Here is my life, use it."

And I say, "Amen."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hugging the Space Away

I had to be the shoulder to cry on last week to two new friends. One because of terrible news from home of a relative’s death, the other from having to say goodbye to her boyfriend who stayed only for the weekend. As I put my arms around each one, I felt very keenly, how I was purposely causing the “space” between to disappear. And for the first time in the past couple of weeks, I didn’t mind.

Space—a word that people do not generally associate with Asians. But as a friend once said, and only half-jokingly, “Those who generalize, generally lies.” How true! Because in my case, space is so important. If I could get a restraining order out and keep people at about an arm’s length away, I would…generally.

Now that I am back to dormitory living, space is fast becoming a rare and, therefore, precious commodity. When I was shown to my room a couple of weeks ago, I felt relief wash over me just realizing that I don’t need to share my room with somebody else. But the relief was short-lived since a closed door does not seem to guarantee unlimited enjoyment of private space.

Well, wholly my fault, too if you think of it. My extroverted nature started making friends to the detriment of my introverted side. And so like Smeagol and Gollum, the battle rages, and the points actually go to the extroverted side. You see, I cannot ignore a knock on my door, even though I should actually bury myself under a pile of books stacked up beneath my desk.

But as I hugged a sobbing friend, I realize that part of what makes one human is the need for comfort from community and a sense of belonging—which I would not find if I choose to simply stay within the space. You cannot hug yourself properly, nor can you cry on your own shoulder.

It’s reassuring to know that one day when I myself will need a hug, I will get one.

So you see, Simon and Garfunkel, I can't be a rock, nor a mountain.