Me

♥ Coming to terms with the impending death of a grandparent ♥

After 21 years of being fortunate enough to not have had to deal with the death of anyone close to me, I have recently been told that my eldest grandfather may only have a couple of months left to live. Yep, this is a fun one…

So I am currently in the library attempting to study for my final exam next week and thought maybe writing down my feelings would help to ensure that when the time comes I am mentally prepared. Of course, I’ll be devasted but I suppose I am lucky to have a warning. Coincidentally, my master’s degree in Medical Law and Ethics has introduced me to the medical world and the concept of death. I was so reluctant to choose modules relating to the ‘end of life’ at the beginning of the year as I branded it ‘too depressing.’ However, I quickly changed my mind when I realised that this reason was ridiculous! The module was popular and controversial (just like me! Just kidding – I am not popular,) and I am delighted that I changed my mind and did a module called Ethics at the End of Life. Basically, it taught me to grow the f*** up and come to terms with the bleak reality that we’re all going to die. Or even worse, end up in a Persistent Vegetative State. That sounds really depressing (and word of advice: have a think about what YOU would want in such a situation and consider signing an Advance Directive, or at least tell your loved ones clearly,) but I do think the module gave me a more positive outlook on death, and whilst some of my modules made me decide I want to be healthier and try to live to 100, this one forced me to contemplate the harsh reality of life. People will die. People you love will die. YOU will die. AND THERE AIN’T NOTHIN’ YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

I did some coursework on ‘ageism’ in healthcare and whilst my initial reaction to the question of whether resources should be allocated using age cut-off points was in favour of such policies, my view rapidly changed as I thought more about the meaning of life. Who has got a right to tell you when your time is up? Who has got a right to tell you how to live, or not live? In reality, whilst I started eating vegetables with the intention of living until 100, my grandparents seem to have rather different perspectives. They claim to have done all they have wanted to do, and seen everywhere they have wanted to see. I have no doubts that in my grandfather’s lifetime he has seen it all – he was a doctor in the British army, has lived, worked and travelled all over the world, and lived long enough to know all of his grandchildren when they are old and mature enough to really get to know him and spend time with him. He’s even stuck around long enough for the birth of his first great-grandchild! All whilst having Type 1 diabetes since his 40s.

I’m sure most people out there have been through a similar loss (or losses) before so maybe this is deserving of an eye-roll. Poor me! 21 and has all grandparents and has never experienced a huge loss! I admire everyone who has been through such things and managed gracefully. This is me trying! Though when the day comes I really have no idea if I will be mentally prepared or glugging a mixture of wine, snot and tears… I think with a touch of spirituality, an ounce of weed* and as much time as possible spent with my grandparents I should be able to make it through this with a grateful smile, a stronger family and ideally…. a training contract?

 

*Don’t smoke weed kids. Comedic effect.

Random story: The One With The Tattoo Hiding

Right, so if you’re ever reading this Mum or Dad… stop. Stop reading! Go and do something else. Please?

So I’m going to have to disclose that I have a (small) tattoo of a treble clef on my bum to tell this story. I got a matching one to my sister, not just because we’re massively into music but also because the symbol is made up of the first letters of my brother, sister and my names. I can’t exactly show you as that is too much effort, but trust me on that one. Anyway, the parents know now but think I got it after my first year of university. So when this story is set I was under 18 and basically would have been in a LOT of trouble. Anyway – tattoo, cameras, parents, trapped on a boat… buckle your seatbelts.

So we were on a family trip on a Mediterranean cruise (yes, I’m aware that I have an amazing and blessed life.) Each evening there was some form (if not forms) of entertainment going on (sidenote: go on a cruise – they’re amazing.) So one night my sister and I were going to go to the ‘Adult Game Show’ whilst my parents went to watch a pianist elsewhere, but before heading there we broke out into a huge argument over some major betrayal (not really – it was over hair straighteners.) (I need to stop with the brackets.) Anyway, I stormed off to the game show like a strong independent black woman that don’t need no man. As I waited for the show to start in a sea of strangers, I spotted my sister on the opposite side of the stadium-style hall. I don’t think she was close enough to see my evil glare, but I was hoping she’d feel it. Good old teenage angst. The show began.

The presenter walked out onto the stage with the camera crew, announcing that the game show would be filmed to screen and made available to buy on DVD (probably for mad amounts of money, can I use this as an excuse to complain about capitalism? Not really, but why not. Always complain about capitalism.) Anyway, he said that the audience would be split into five sections, and a male and female team captain would be needed to act for each team. He began by asking the section to my left. Then, he moved on to my section. WHY THE FUCK NOT. I ran down the steps (did I mention the stadium-like style thing?) and climbed over the barrier onto the stage. “MEEEEEEEEE!” shouted 16 year old me. I wasn’t even meant to be there at this Adult game show. Whoops #fuckthesystem. As he moved round the sections, my evil sister (jk) witnessed my badassness from across the room. What did she do? DECIDE TO TAKE THIS FIGHT OUT ON THE STAGE. It was on.

So basically (this is where I’m going to struggle) the game involved different things being read out by the hot presenter (Abel mi Belle,) which then each section/team had to produce and take to the back of the stage to the presenter and cameras. Some examples include… three men in bras and lipgloss, or a woman wearing green that can do the splits, etc. The team that got there the fastest would get 5 points, the second would get 4 points, the third would get 3, and so on. Does that explain it well enough? Because the male and female team captains of each team were on the stage already, it was obviously faster if one of us could do it as we would get there faster. And this was war.

‘A FEMALE WITH A TATTOO BELOW THE WAIST!’ Abel mi Belle announced. We legged it. We hitched up our nice dresses. We showed Abel mi Belle and the camera our tattoos/bums. I’m not sure which of us got there first or if we got there at the same time, but we beat the others. Anyway, we didn’t really think much of it, to be honest. We carried on the game and it was hilariously fun. I think my section got 3rd place and I got a bronze medal (but I still beat my sister!)

By this point, straighteners had been long forgotten and my sister and I proceeded to go for a sober dance at the pool party on that night. I actually remember the strange sensation of being aware that people looking at me as we wandered round. Then a few people started to approach us. ‘You’re the sisters with the matching tattoos!’ a Spanish lady exclaimed. Over that night, people kept smiling, waving, asking to see our tattoos again and a couple asked for photos with us… -.-

It kind of puts a downer on your 15(5) minutes of fame to have to worry about people recognising you when you’re with your family. And how to explain any incidents?! The next day was a sea day (meaning the boat was not stopping anywhere that day) meaning we had a full day trapped on a boat with my parents and the possibility of people coming up to us ‘matching-tattoo-rival-competitor-sisters.’ To make matters worse, the game show was being shown on the TV on a loop ALL DAY. We had to distract them from TVs, hide remote controls, and prevent my dad from buying the DVD when a waving ‘fan’ cause us to confess that we acted as team captains. We managed, though! Now maybe one day they’ll read this… fingers crossed they don’t! If you do… it’s a joke.

‘A CHRISTMAS JOKE!’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ38jTQcO1k

 

 

Random story: The One Where I Fell Into A Lake

It was a beautiful summer’s day in London. The sun was shining, the cider was flowing, the water in Regent’s Park lake was glistening. Birds were singing, people were dancing. Literally, people were dancing for some salsa session under a beautiful marque. Am I setting the scene well enough yet? Basically, imagine a perfect post-exam day in the south of France (not England.) With lots of colourful flowers everywhere. To top things off, I was hangover free on this spectacular Saturday afternoon! A group of us strolled down the grass to sit by the riverbank, as you would when you’re on pretend holiday in the south of France. As we relaxed in the hazy heavenly warmth, a pedalo in the distance caught my (mildly intoxicated) eyes. To my surprise, it came closer and closer towards us and the steep river bank, clearly not intended for docking purposes. ‘We’re trying to get people on our boat and no one has done it!’ exclaimed one of the men dressed as a sailor. The two sailors had fancy glass champagne glasses in their hands, a champagne bottle and two empty seats behind them. Without missing a beat my sister’s boyfriend jumped up and leapt onboard. For a few seconds, time stood still. My heart leapt. ‘I will regret not getting on this boat for the rest of my life,’ I thought to myself, with more profoundness than I’d ever experienced at any other point in my 21 years. Just when you’d think I’d used up my wisdom-ration for the year, I even passed my phone to my friend. I stood up. I stepped forward. I fell.

So there I am, on this beautiful summer’s day, in Regents Park lake past my waist, scrambling onto the back of the boat which had moved about a metre whilst I had been… faffing, frankly. The many, many people on the grass looked on. I managed to get onto the boat, minus a shoe. You would think that this is a story I look back on and cringe with embarrassment… but you would be wrong. Very, very wrong. In fact, I think it might have been one of the best days of my entire life. Not only did the sun dry the clean, clear water from my clothes and ends of my hair (just kidding – the water was gross but I made it out infection free,) but the sailors pulled out two more glasses out of their rucksack and kept refilling them with champagne as if I was an elegant queen, not some shameless student alcoholic that had just fallen into a lake to try and get free alcohol. We had a wonderful half an hour or so, swapping seats to help peddle, knocking into young teens on romantic dates, laughing, drinking, baking in the gentle heat…

When it came to the end of our fairytale adventure, we returned to our starting place… The Place Where I Fell Into The Lake. My sister’s boyfriend hopped off and I followed. The two sailors decided to also hop off and abandon their boat, as cool free spirits that get dressed up as sailors and get a pedalo with champagne and glasses and strangers would do. As one of them stepped off the boat and onto the bank, the boat moved backwards slightly and… SPLASH. The lucky audience got to witness our second fall into the lake. He was sort of hanging onto the bank with his arms, with his legs on the boat, with his torso forming a bridge over the water. At this point, I really should have asked him to find my shoe. We had a good laugh and a group photo so we could all document that day. Not that I’ll ever forget! 10/10 – would do again. Also, walking home with no shoes on in London was surprisingly absolutely fine. Only a few funny looks from small children…

“But…where are you REALLY from?”

Ever since I remember, the seemingly straightforward question has thrown me. I remember being 6 years old, in my school in Spain which I had only recently started, and being interviewed by older children for a survey. When I replied ‘Liverpool’ in my thick Scouse accent, they look perplexed and began to ask a question I have now heard far too many times: “But…where are you really from?”

Of course, I replied ‘India’ straight away because that is my ethnicity and a huge part of my identity. Now, having grown up abroad in the south of Spain since the age of 5 before returning to the UK fifteen years later to study, has only made my answer to a casual ‘Where are you from?’ even more confusing, usually resulting in me waffling on to cover all possible pieces of information this poor person may have wanted (or may not have wanted) to know.

This is, of course, to avoid the annoying racially presumptive question that follows (or a rephrased version of ‘Why are you brown?’) Or, quite often, to avoid the dismay of other Indians when they find that I, unfortunately, have not yet had a chance to visit their homeland and my country of origin, infamous India. I almost feel guilty when I am looked at with shock and despair when they then find out that, whilst I’m bilingual, I have not learnt Hindi or Gujarati. Whilst I cannot wait to explore my heritage and roots properly one day, I can’t help but wander what my truthful short answer would be…. My own grandmother, who has been in the UK since the age of 16, called me ‘a coconut’ the other day, laughing at my western ways!

Writer Taiye Selasi gave an inspirational speech on this topic titled ‘Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local.’ She makes an incredible point – borders change and countries grow, merge or even disappear. “I am not ‘multinational.’ I am not ‘a national’ at all… How can I come from a concept?” she encourages us to consider. Our identities are instead a culmination of our experiences. Whilst my nationality is British and my ethnicity is Indian, my family, home and heart remain in my small town in southern Spain… and all of these make up where I am really from! What I love about my beautifully multicultural university in London is that my complicated answer is more often than not matched or raised. Being able to embrace and celebrate diversity is something I really hope I don’t have to let go of when I leave next month!

 

DIY Cheap and Creative Gift Idea for a Parent

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1. Make a list of some ‘house rules’ or values important to your family.

2. Find or saw planks of wood into rectangles of different sizes – 8 to 12 is advised, including one long plank of wood into which the other pieces will be nailed. Make sure this long plank fits all of the others, including the heading! Wipe down the wood if needed.

3. You could choose your own colour theme – my sister and I chose pastel colours for a more rural vibe. You could buy these paints or combine some basic colours to make several new ones – we made all of these colours using white, dark brown, yellow and dark blue paint. Paint each plank of wood on the front side and leave to dry overnight.

3. One by one, write or paint each rule/value onto each plank of wood. Instead of using black paint, we used permanent marker which proved much easier than paint would have! You could use a variety of fonts. If you lack artistic skills, like me, there is no shame in using a pencil first!

4. When the writing has dried, use a drill (if possible) to nail each plank onto the main one. Try and make sure they are straight first!

 

And here you have a cheap yet sentimental present for your parent or parents!

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Why hello there!

I haven’t yet introduced myself. I’m an almost(?) 19 year old law student at SOAS in London. Yes, SOAS. (‘What does that stand for?’ you wonder…) School of Oriental and African Studies. (‘Oriental and African?’ you wonder…) No, I am doing a normal UK law degree and am neither oriental nor african, I’m afraid!

Having just completed my first year at my wonderful little SOASian bubble, I reminded myself to, unlike the past year, actually achieve something other than drink a LOT of wine whilst I return to my wonderful hometown of Malaga. And does that involve studying for my driving test? Doing something inspiring? Finishing my mum’s two-week-belated birthday project I’ve been putting off for fear of splinters? No. It involves talking about myself every so often. About completely random things. With no clear direction.

And so that is my plan! Bear with me for some bantz. (Oh wait, i can’t do that, apparently. Bear with me for some riveting new posts!)