I fill in the rest of the story on those days when I have a little more time. I just wanted to mention that we spent the day in Liverpool yesterday, which was really cool. We took the train there so we got to see some of the beautiful countryside along the way. I'd really love to have some time to spend out of the city and in the country, but I don't think I will this trip. In Liverpool we went to a museum that had some stuff about the transalantic slave trade. It was interesting to see how the city was involved with that. After that we did a Beatles tour, which was amazing. I'll write more about it later. Right now I'm off to Happy Hour for a couple people in the group's birthdays, and then I'm off to Paris for the weekend with Suzanne, Ming, and Santiago. I'm sure I'll have tons to write when I get back. Cheers.
When we left the story Dan was trying to figure out what he was going to do for the rest of the day. So after I finished typing that last entry I headed home and was going to take a nap or maybe hop on the tube and go around the city to take some pictures. A bunch of people were going to Notting Hill to shop, but I was pretty sure they'd be gone by the time I got back. But when I got back to the building, Ming, Suzanne, Lindsey, Allison, and Greg were just leaving. So they convinced me to go with them even though I was about to fall asleep. We went to Notting Hill and looked around in a few shops. Greg and I were both starving so we decided to go to an Indian restaurant we saw for the buffet. It wasn't quite as good as the last Indian food I had, but for the price and how full it got me, it was great. After that we headed for home. I was expecting to just going in and take a nap and maybe get some reading done. But on the way home from the tube station I ran into Ming and she was going to buy a phonecard, so I went with her because the one I had wasn't working right. We bought our phonecards and I thought I was about to finally get my nap but when we got back Suzanne asked us if we wanted to hop on the tub and get off at a random place to do some reading. So I decided to go with. That's all for now. Gotta go meet some people for lunch. More later. Cheers.
Monday morning started with a test. That wasn't very much fun at all. I spent most of Sunday night studying for it which was fine because it gave me some time to relax and just hang out with people. The test actually ended up being easier than I expected which was cool. So after class I went shopping with Suzanne, Lindsey, Allison, Ming, and Santiago. We went around to a few different shops on Oxford Circus. I bought an England football jersey. Santiago bought a hat like the one Joey wore on Friends when they were in London. In the Next store I had him my map and he "got in the map" and I took a picture. After that we got bored with all the stores the girls were going to so we decided to go check out the famous department store Harrods. On our way, we ran into Jason FRICKIN' Schwartzman. For that whole story you can go check out the most recent thread I started on Boardix. Anyway, after we shook hands with Max Fisher and headed back to Harrods, we were so upset that I didn't take a picture and that we didn't say more to him than we did that we weren't looking at anything in the store. So we decided to leave and try to find him again so we could get a picture. We wandered around the neighborhood asking ourselves "If I was Francis Ford Coppolla's nephew, where would I be?" We checked out a few stores and pubs. We went into the Loius Vaiton store and Santiago asked the door man if any movie stars had come in recently. No luck. We decided just to head home. At night some of us went to a reading at a club in the West End called Book Slam at Cherry Jam. It was a lot of fun. Suzanne, Allison, Ming and I finally got to spend some time with Rachel and Payal outside of class. There was one guy from the States who worked as a male prostitute when he was 17. He was really interesting and apparently he also had a small part in the Fresh Prince of Belair. We were sitting in a cozy little alcove at the back of the stage but he kept turning around to talk to us because we were being a bit rowdy. There was an Irish poet who had a musical accompanist and a very cute, young British novelist as well. There was a suprise guest poet from Madison, Wisconsin. The MC also recited one of his poems that is going to be on Channel 4 sometime soon. When that was over we headed back home. I ran to the Sainsbury to get a bottle of Diet Coke because I had a little too much wine and Japanese beer and I had some reading to get done for class. When I got back everyone was hanging out in my room and being loud. I was feeling a bit antisocial because I just wanted to relax and get some work done. I went out on the front porch and drank some Diet Coke out of the 2 liter bottle till Ming came back from talking to her mom on the payphone. I went upstairs and read/napped for a while and listened to some Simon and Garfunkel. Ming came in after she showered and we were trying to hang out and read but then Blair, Greg, and Allison came back from the grocery store and started eating on the floor in the kitchen/my bedroom. Blair started badgering Ming about why she said he was being grouchy the other night so we went out in the hall to keep reading. Through the door we could hear him talking to Allison about Suzanne and Ming, so we went downstairs to talk to Suzanne, Lindsey, and Andrea. They just happened to be talking about how much Blair was bothering them. Suzanne was ready to confront him but we told her it was probably a better idea to do it when he's not drunk. There is some serious Real World style drama going on here. So after that Ming and I went back upstairs and Greg and Blair had gone to bed so we read for awhile and then went to sleep. I woke up super late for class today when Ming knocked on my door at 9.25. Class starts at 9.30. I'm done now so I think I'm going to head home and try to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. A bunch of us are headed to Paris this weekend because we have Monday off for Bank Holiday. It should be a good time. Cheers.
That brings us to Friday. We had class in the morning again. We watch My Beautiful Laundrette and got out early. I had to go grocery shopping with professor Sullivan because my roommates wanted to hop on the Big Bus tour again for a little while. I shopped then came back and ate lunch while watching more cricket. Still don't get the game. But I did find out that they take a break during the match for lunch and for tea. Weird. So at 1 we had to meet Professor at the tube station again to go for a quick tour of the London Museum. The line we had to take ended up shutting down in the middle of our trip so we had to try to take another way. We changed trains like three times and then had to get on a bus. The bus driver told us he knew where we needed to get off but he let us off on the wrong side of the River and so we had to wander the streets and ask random construction workers and taxi drivers for directions. We finally got to the museum but we were really late. We got a quick tour of the exhibits relating to immigration to London from the Roman Empire up to the beginning of the twentieth century. After that museum Ming, Suzzane, Lindsey, Blair, Greg, Alison, Santiago, and I went to the Tate Modern and saw some art. They had some Andy Warhol stuff there and some Dali, Pollock, and Monet. It was a good time. We came back and then we got ready and went out with some kids from our building that go to St. Francis in Joliet. Frist they took us to Planet Hollywood and we were pissed off. None of us came to London to go to places like that. But we left soon after that and went to a place called Zoo Bar. We were able to bargain down to a £6 cover for the guys and £5 cover for the girls because we were a large group with more girls then guys. When we got there, an Irish guy was yelling at the doorman because they wouldn't let him and his friend in. They apparently will only let a guy and a girl in together, not two guys. He called them wankers a lot and asked why the "best fucking bar in London" needed a guy and a girl and couldn't let in two guys. We got in without a problem and it was a pretty fun time. They played a very odd mixture of music, things like "Jump Around," "Hey Baby," and the "Grease Megamix." I spent most of the night protecting the girls in our group from old men and overly aggresive Brits. Andrea bitched a guy out for trying to put his hand down her pants. Not cool. I would have decked him if I knew what was going on and I knew I had some back up. I saved Alison from a 35 year old. A guy Suzzane was dancing with told her he was "about to spurt" and that she was a tease. She told him that's how American girls are and if he couldn't handle it, he should leave. I failed to save Ming from the guy that was hitting on her because she was making out with him, so I assumed it was ok. Apparently she wanted help. Oops. So we walked home and after everyone else went to bed, Ming and I laid out in the hallway outside our rooms and talked for a long time. She kept saying that she didn't want to disturb her roommates so she was going to sleep in the hall. We talk about relationships and stuff like that. I told her all about me and Joanne. She talked about some of her past relationships. At around 4.30 we finally went to our rooms and we to bed. At 10.30 the next morning we had to meet our professor at the tube station again because we had a walking tour of the East End. That's the area of town that has always belonged to immigrant communities. Originally it was occupied by Hugenots from France, the Irish took over at the time of the Potato Famine, it was occupied for a long time after that by the Jews, and now it is mostly a Bengali neighborhood. The tour was given to us by a Pakistani journalist and writer who is a friend of Professor Sullivan's and lived in the East End for many years. After the tour we went to a restaurant and had some Indian food. I had lamb curry Mandras. It was spicy but very good. Professor and her friend got mad because the service was awful. We we were done eating some of us went home and I took a nap for a long time. I woke up around 8.30 and we all talked about where to go out. We finally decied on this place called the Trobadour where Dylan has played. I went with Suzzane, Ming, Lindsey, Alison, Santiago, Blair, and Greg. Andrea didn't feel like going out and we can never seem to get Rachel, Payal, or Rashid to go out with us. Hopefully they're having a good time too. We ate some food and just hung out for a while. I had some bangers and mash again which were just as good as the last ones. I also drank so Sheppy's Cider which was really good. Blair complained about the calamari he ordered and how places aren't cool just because someone famous has been there in the past. I had a good time despite the fact that he was pissing some people off. We got back to the building and hung out in the common room for a while with some of the St. Francis people. After a while I went back up to my room and laid in bed with Suzzane and Ming for a few minutes. Then Greg came in and jumped on top of us. After a while he went to bed. Suzzane left a few minutes after that. Ming ended up staying for most of the night, until like 7. Today I went shopping at Oxford Circus with Blair, Ming, Suzzane, and Greg. The girls went off by themselves and so did we. I got back a little while ago and was working on some stuff for class. Now I'm headed home for some dinner and studying. Cheers.
Thursday was our first day of class at the normal time, 9.30 a.m. till noon. Class is actually pretty interesting and it's getting me pretty interested in issues concerning ethnic origin and concepts of homeland and stuff like that. We've been reading stuff and watching movies written by this Pakistani Brit named Hanif Kureishi. I really like his stuff. I'd recommend seeing the movies My Son the Fanatic and My Beautiful Laundrette. After class I stopped by the grocery store and bought some food so that I don't have to eat every meal out. It kind of made me feel more at home here. I went back to my apartment and ate a sandwich and watched some cricket with my roommate Greg. We didn't understand the rules at all. It was a test match between England and New Zealand, which means it lasts for five days. Other than that I'm pretty clueless. My Lonely Planet guide has some stuff about the sport but it doesn't explain the rules. So anyway, at 2 we met our professor at the Gloucester Road Underground station and then went on a Big Bus tour of London. It was very touristy but actually a lot of fun. We got to see all the major sites like Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Cirucs, Trafalger Square, the Houses of Parliament, London Bridge and Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and a bunch of other really cool stuff. It took some pictures but my batteries in the camera ran out so I didn't get as many as I would have liked. Our tour guide was really funny though. After that we came back and had a quick dinner before going to see a musical called Bombay Dreams. Before the show we stopped at a pub across the street to grab a drink. I tried to order a 7&7 but I saw they didn't have Seagram's 7 so I told the guy Jameson and 7up or Sprite. I ended up being served a Jameson on the rocks, a glass of Sprite, and a pint of Ale. You'd think I was in a country that spoke a different language or something. The play was really fun. It was about a poor guy from Bombay who makes it big as a star in Bollywood. It had all the excess that goes along with Bollywood movies, including a character that exited stage on a hanging ladder than looked like it was coming from a helicopter. After the show some people just decided to hang out at our place but Ming, Santiago, Alison, and I decided that we wanted to experience the city. We went to a place called Balans West. We ordered drinks not realizing that we were supposed to get food if we got drinks, but they were nice and let us get away with not ordering food. I got a cocktail called Weeping Jesus that was made with Absinthe and Peach Schnopps. It was good but the Absinthe made my mouth numb. After that we wandered around looking for something that was still open but not much was. In London all the pubs and bars have to close at 11 because of a law that was made during WWI to make sure that the munitions factory works went home early enough to get to work in the morning. We wandered a bit and met some Australians who were also looking for someplace to go. Finally we just decided to go to a restaurant with really cheap food that was open till 5 a.m. We sat there till 2 and then went home to find all our roommates ridiculously drunk. That was quite an interesting experience. Anyway, I've got some work to do for class so I'll keep the story going later. Cheers.
So I've been here for a couple days now and this is my first real chance to sit down at a computer for any length of time. The day we arrived was hellishly long. We got here and had about two hours to rest (which everyone in the group decided to use to walk around the neighborhood) before we had to go on a walking tour of the neighborhood. Not really a wise idea when you think about it. So then we got walked around the Royal Borough of Kennsington and Chelsea and saw things like Kennsington Gardes (a HUGE park), Kennsington Palace (where Princess Diana lived) and the Romanian Embassy, among other things. Then we went and had dinner at our professor's flat. We were all exhausted after that, so a few of us just grabbed a pint and headed back to the place we're staying. The next day we had orientation at 10 and class at 1. WE grabbed lunch at a Pub called the Queen's Arms. I had some teriffic bangers and mash. During class we got to meet with Lord David Alton, a real life member of the House of Lords. He talked to us about Liverpool (where we're visiting next week) and about some human rights stuff he is involved with. That night some of us grabbed some dinner at a Thai place and then we did work all night. Gotta go. More later.
I'm here in London. The room is pretty nice. I'm sharing it with a couple guys named Greg and Blair. It's small, but we have a balcony. We're about to go to dinner at our professors flat. More later.
Here's a Hebrew Traveler's Prayer I found online:
Ye-hi ra-tson mi-l'fa-ne-cha,
A-do-nai e-lo-hei-nu vei-lo-hei a-vo-tei-nu,
v'ta-gi-ei-nu lim-choz chef-tsei-nu,
l'cha-yim ul-sim-chah ul-sha-lom.
V'ta-tsi-lei-nu mi-kaf kawl o-yeiv,
v'o-reiv v'lis-tim v'cha-yot ra-ot ba-de-rech,
u-mi-kawl mi-nei fur -a-ni-yot,
ha-mit-ra-g'shot la-vo la-o-lam.
V'tish-lach b'ra-chah b'chawl ma-a-sei ya-dei-nu,
v'ti-t'nei-nu l'chein ul-che-sed ul-ra-cha-mim b'ei-ne-cha,
uv-ei-nei chawl ro-ei-nu.
V'tish-ma kol ta-cha-nu-nei-nu,
ki Eil sho-mei-a t'fi-lah v'ta-cha-nun a-tah.
Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai,
May it be Your will, Lord, My God and God of my ancestors, to lead me, to direct my steps, and to support me in peace. Lead me in life, tranquil and serene, until I arrive at where I am going. Deliver me from every enemy, ambush and hurt that I might encounter on the way and from all afflictions that visit and trouble the world. Bless the work of my hands. Let me receive divine grace and those loving acts of kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all those I encounter. Listen to the voice of my appeal, for you are a God who responds to prayerful supplication. Praised are you, Lord, who responds to prayer.
Here's one for fun:
Heavenly father, look down on us your humble obedient tourist-servants, who are doomed to travel this earth taking photos, emailing, buying souvenirs and walking around in drip dry underwear. Give us this day divine guidance in the selection of our hostels, that we may find our reservations honoured, our rooms made up and hot water from the taps. We pray that the telephones work and the lines not to slow.
Lead us dear Lord to good, inexpensive restaurants, where the food is superb, the waiters friendly and the wine included in the price. Give us the wisdom to tip correctly in currencies we do not understand, forgive us for under tipping out of ignorance and overtipping out of fear. Make the natives love us for what we are, and not for what we can contribute to their wordly goods.
Grant us the strength to visit the museums, the cathederals, the palaces and the castles listed in the guidebooks as "a must." And if by chance we skip a historic monument to take a nap after lunch, have mercy on us for our flesh is weak.