Two Weeks Notice

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Far out in a town of a few non- happy- go- lucky dwellers, lay a store that feasted on some squished brains. There were some days the store lured them, but this time it lost its vile potion for intoxicating minds. By the stroke of midnight, its Christmas roar was guzzled by the rapacious years end.

Circling around this mundane town, the residents scoffed and puffed about a roast that demonized their skinny jeans. A few of the ambitious ones blazed with dangly legs and non-frost bitten cropped tops. In those defeated moments, the brainwashed then believed they transformed into penguins.  With bowed down vanquished heads, they waddled into this store- the wily one that stacked some baits of hope.

New years, you think it would be one with star-spangled welcome banners and those dorky optimistic posters. But no, here I am in in a town with some programmed feet orbiting around a huge stack of diet books and foppish-looking mannequins with well-moulded bosoms that make its way through plunging tees. I was bamboozled by the range of yoga mats, calories counters and somewhere in an odd corner was a mirage of some optimistic looking diaries. Now for all of us feeling like bloated penguins, the thought of entangled yoga limbs and string beans seems far-fetched. Thus I promised myself to surrender to every craving from honey crackled chocolate tiffin to bacon quiches. This is where I hope reverse psychology whips me into shape.

On that Note

But one tradition persists, keeping that diary. It may not be the perfect one with a log, or moreover a mush pit of dramatically contrived stories. Yet, Ive led myself to believe its blessed with whims, thus lifes chronicled. And there were two things that never seemed to change. One, I never purchased a diary, I always picked the complimentary ones from the bank or hospital. Solely because it was something that never looked appealing, eventually never tampered with.  Two, my first page had a daunting list of resolutions. And though Im a part of a minority who believes in resolutions, I can only be grateful I play with probability, Im likely to be a stickler for two out of my ten goals.

And this is how the post came into being.

It started one fine morning after the laundry bag was emptied, it reminded of my phone gallery, something worse than a pile of socks. Going back to my first photos, reminded me how we age by seconds or worse, short-term memory issues, When did this happen? Somewhere after twenty phone scrolls were a few skittish sketches I made for this story, exactly four months ago. The first week in London had its charm. I wandered around many streets and remembered telling my friend, Everyone says that London is so grey but what an irony I have seen so much of color here.  I then wrote to my friend that I was going to explore as much as colors and make assemblages like Richard Hamilton, color- themed ones. Well.
I guess I buried the story somewhere in my forsaken photo gallery. Which led to the first resolution, stay in line with Inkline.

Unlike the minute- brainwashed penguins, I decided to settle for an undeterred January- one thats more steadfast and sees its resolution as some challenging Moriarty. Its a brand new year, I plan on not looking forward but rewinding to my first ten days in London. Its the two weeks notice.

15, September 2016
I landed in London as an extra check-in baggage. Meaning, I reasonably yet irrationally wore two coats, two pairs of socks and thigh clenching thermals. One because I was told it was quite cold, two because the economy class does not give leeway to extra weight. Thus I sat like a stuffed turkey in seat ergonomically structured plane seat that accommodated my augmented butt. Taking the well-stuffed derriere out of the seat was an achievement, futile, though. I got royally got roasted when I reached the terminal of Heathrow airport.  At the immigration counter, I had the most hostile flushed looking face.
Fantastic, that was my first memory in London.

But it does not surpass my second one, a tryst with a drug discovery student who made my first two weeks in London hilariously twisted. Hither, the travel accounts of a GPS-programed son- of -a -gun and a broken compass wanderer.

Red-dy for London

Episode 1: Tuh-matoes or Too-matoes?

Setting: A town that I knew I had to learn its postcode for basic survival

Almost knocked on a red door
Sat on the second floor of a double decker
Spotted the toppling telephone booths at Old London Road
A cyclist on a red cycle whizzed by the carousel
First time meet with Hari,  he wore a red tee
Dined at Cappadocia, under a red canopy

Were at Kingston Town
Clockwise: The first autumn Accessorize window display, the carousel by the Fairfield ground and the mysterious door by the
Stanley Picker Gallery 

Frankly dear, paint the world red should have been invented for London, cause thats the only color they never seem to give a damn about. I was always told that London was muted by the governing beiges, bland ivories and the solemn old ladies grey. But occasionally she loved her opulence with the bold red. Apart from the morose weather forecast talks I heard in India, I never knew why things were taken so literally about its color drain. First thing is first, London is multicultural- more colorful than you think. For goodness gracious, they have foundations that range from hazelnut to cloudy white. You should check the makeup counters back home, oh wait, Fair and Lovely has an evil scheme in this.

Apart from my liking towards the weather, I was always asked, Where you are from?  The black hair and caramel skin weren't always prototype conditions to fall into the Indian slot.  In my first week, I was shopping in a grocery store looking at the cherry tomatoes. There was an elderly person who was stooping down to get some cherry tomatoes. Such a lovely cherry red, she said. I retorted, Imagine too-matoes cherry-ishing that.
There was an odd silence and she looked at me. Are you American?

I wondered if it was because I made small talk or I said tomatoes wrong, or if I made a poor joke. Clearly, I wasnt ready to be the spontaneous comedian, moreover, break the ice with wordplay.  But it was a month later, I realized that this became a pattern. I had an even funnier moment when an Indian guy at my hall of residence asked, Wait, youre an Indian? Till now my outlandish and favorite guess is a German – Sri Lankan.

Blues Less Clues

Episode 2: Man, his dopamine is dope.
Setting: An art museum that drove my friend to some horrid cider, eventually coerced tipsiness

Wore a blue bandeau top
Swiped my blue oyster card
Passed by a blue café
Made swerves around a bunch of egoistic sky reflecting skyscrapers
Spotted a man wearing blue suspenders, blowing bubbles

Were at Tate

Clockwise: A little frolic at the Tate Modern garden, The Three Dancers 1925  by Pablo Picasso (at Tate) and a random store at
Elephant and Castle 

Tate Modern has a lot of concocted stories, including ours. One that a person left his jacket unattended near some pillar and people huddled around it. Assumptions were instigated that it was a new installation. While the other is about some person who stuck gum in the center of the frame and many people gathered around to marvel the minimalistic art. Now its for you to guess, whose is more outlandish. But thats what Tate is for, honestly to shoot Mr Subjectivity. And for someone,  it was a sole assassination mission to shoot him. He regretted that he did not have pints and pints of alcohol, especially while painfully subjecting his eyes to some abstract expressionism.  In many ways, I wished he did, though because, in the midst of muddled chattering, I could hear him thinking out a few equations aloud. Some of them alarmingly amazing. Basically proving that he could do this piece of art. (This was while looking at Piet Mondrians work.)

But Tate modern was a dream come true when I got to see some the greatest artwork of modernism from Picasso to Rothko. I remember breaking into a Broadway dance and skipping to the Surrealism aisle. And having a moment of silence when I saw the Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Salvador Dalis dexterity with the paintbrush could be easily mistaken as a photograph. And for once Hari was in awe, What do you think was in his mind when he was painting.

Exactly that.

Green with Bevy

Episode 3: What do you mean you want to follow the green wall?
Setting: A grim residence of ghosts- very unhappy wives.

Window pane lined with green beer bottles
Passed by an unknown bar with green bricks
Almost bought a cactus from the florist
Spotted some green-necked mallard ducks
Im in a garden with commanding deep green hedges

Were at Hampton Court

Clockwise: Hampton Garden Court, The Ship Bar at Southwark, 'Cage" (1) - (6) by Gerhard Ritcher 

Apart from King Henry VIIIs polygonal relationship of multiple wives – six specifically - whats more puzzling is his garden. (Also the rumors of revengeful Lady Catherine meandering in the palace -one of his wives of course.)  Stretched over the vast garden, the trapezoid garden maze causes you to wander and get lost for hours. Though green was my toughest color to spot while wandering around London, Hampton court certainly stole my attention with its never ending grape vines and the deer herds. I am not exactly the Sound of Music break-into- songs person, although that could be Hari, with his nature calls instant poetry. While he marveled at the river and the plush greenery, I kept on asking if he remembered where the green-bricked pub somewhere in our entangled walks we took. Why do you want to see it?
Its the color of jade, rare bricks. Hari laughed at me saying that I was a hopeless biologist looking for odd specimens in the most wrong places. And naturally this followed by a long story of petri dishes, which led to us being cloaked in the early winter darkness.  No his phone did not have a brilliant flashlight. The green building turned out being the mysterious ghost of Hampton Court, she was never found. Apparently, Google maps couldnt  understand green wall pub in Hampton Court. I decided to name the mysterious pub, Shady Lady Catherine.

A week later, after a very faulty GPS incident, Hari and I landed in front of another green pub, Kings Arms. I am assuming King Henrys ghost still wanted all the attention.

Awe-Range Indeed 

Episode 4: Its just a bunch of squares.
Setting: Some typical street that Sherlock would be snooping around in

I passed by a façade of yellow window panes
I spotted someone wearing an ochre cardigan
Marveled the work of Josef Albers orange squares
Was lured by a huge orange LED display

Were stranded at Strand 

Clockwise: Some random building at Waterloo,  Study for Homage to the Square Beaming by Joseph Albers  and the London
Design Biennale at Somerset House 

Our exit from Tate Modern spurred debates, many debates, and coincidentally it all had a hint of orange in it. Whether it was the take on Henri Matisses work, The Snail to Joseph Albers Study for Homage to the Square Beaming,  Haris optic nerve just kept on twitching with art that was too simple for any soul. After a long bicker with him that Joseph Albers work was not a primary school work of stacked colorful squares, art took a seat. My color field theories winded up as we walked along the Strand. I ended up listening to stories about mice and molecules.

Strand was bland. Occasionally there were streaks of colors with some scarves of the passersby, but for me, it was the London design biennales orange posters that lightened the place up. It followed with a pair of Haris raised eyebrows that easily said, Great more pretension. I equally had my share of contorted eyebrows when I saw something bright and orange in his backpack when he reached out to get something. It turned out being a collection of Van Gogh stationary from Tate. Till now that orange box pops out well in my bookshelf.  For some reason, I think Tate cajoled his optic nerves, it seemed perfectly functional to me then.

Life in Technicolor

Episode 5: Just because its old-fashioned, shes still a gold digger.
Setting: A stupendous house thats beautiful across all seasons, not just the summer

Squeezed into an Ikat crop top
Jazzed- matazzed by a Tom Burch prints
Dizzied by an illumined exhibition
Viewed a painting that earned her stripes

Were at Somerset House

Clockwise: Some flamboyant cab at Waterloo, A design installation at The London Design Biennale, Chakra by Sumant
Jayakrishnan, Strip by Gerard Ritcher

The taxis are quite surprising; theyre not the always black widows. I spotted many with clearly ecstatic prints, even one with Dalmatian spots. And though, they look like old-fashioned rides, theyre quite pricey. Do not fall for Sherlocks taxi hopping habits,  a taxi is certainly a gold digger wholl ride your wallet.

And so with a pair of limbs ad the guidance of orange signage, Hari and I walked to Somerset house. Its magnanimity at first was unrecognized, especially when we entered through a more low profile entrance. To me, it just seemed like another typical neo-classical building. But after a climb through the spiral stairs and into the vast court, I never enjoyed such majestic architecture. It did not have the decadence of a palace. It had those rusticated columns and the subtle way of saying, Heres the Thames if you want to have a look. Away from the ornate embellishments, the Somerset House court reminds you of a blank page you want to stand alone in. 

And there it was, The London Design Biennale, my first exhibition. While walking through each countrys display I was looking forward to Indias. Presented by Sumant Jayakrishnan, Chakra illumined a bold and symbolic room. A mirror reflective room converted the pavilion into  a transposed feeling of being stuck in a kaleidoscope. Enclosed within the flamboyant symbols, opulent fabrics hung in the ceiling with a neon blue room. It reminded me of our ginormous textile factories and the attention seeking lorry prints. There was a room that had the moody setting of Bombay bars. Uncomfortable blue neon lights that made everyone look so anonymous, but I recognized Hari by his silhouette. He looked at me, Did you get all the colors you wanted for your project?
I smiled.

No of times phone froze: 12
No. of times of getting lost: 8
No. of green doors: 5

And over those two weeks, Haris constant effort to make me follow Google maps never worked out. This lead to me keeping a jar of my getting lost stories, in fact I had one just last week. Ive been here for five months and I still havent seen the Big Ben and Tower Bridge. Clearly, Im a tourist with horrible priorities. Very much still snooping around many roads, taking photos of brick walls and hunting for the perfect Pantone green.

Until next time

Atheena Wilson


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  2. I was reading it and it was being read in your voice in the beginning, but somewhere around Hampton Garden Court I started hearing Russel Brand... Towards the end, London and the colours reminded me of an episode of PPGirls where Rainbow the Clown was hit by a truck with bleach and he turns to Mr. Mime who has the power to erase colours. I loved your article and now have an image of you walking around carrying a large Eyedropper tool.

    1. Ha ha, thank you.
      I'm guessing I was buttercup when I reached Hampton court.
      True, that now i carry an eyedropper tool in my shady conductor sling bag. Thank you Master Henry!

  3. A tribute to linguistic innovativeness. The Vibrancy of colour in London is equally matched with the vibrancy of words and humour which mocks the preconceived notions of dull grey London. As a responder, I was stupefied to find myself journeying with you to London as your compositional style was powerful enough to make me visualise the bland yet colourful streets and popular spots of London in all its glory. The blog commencing with the boredom of mundane life leading into reflective moments while going through photo gallery and then finding its way into the inner machinations of your mind with truthful observations on New year resolutions culminating in your flight journey to London left me breathless as it was action-packed. The strange fusion of visuals that sometimes looked like abstract art complemented the unique style of text within text-type blogging. As I truly enjoy reading your blog I am looking forward to your next entry. Feeling proud!!!