I would be a complete moron if I had not written a blog about this house or if I had named it something else. My recollection of this one year would not be complete if I were to skip this part. This is where it all began and this is where it is ending now as I write this blog sitting in Alok's room with the final day in this house glooming over our heads. I took asylum on a couch in this house when I first arrived at UK. For someone who thought that life in UK would be tough, cruel and lonely, this place gave me a slap on the face and woke me up. Though after the initial week I moved to my own room, I had spent most of my time here. I was always welcome here (I think so...) as it is the case with any other Indians in Loughborough.

The inmates of the house - Alok, Satish and Praveen, impressed by my sambar on the first day, waved me an invitation to cook and eat with them. With that, the first thing I feared about life here in UK on eating alone had vanished. Walking here on every cold winter night for every meal was tough. But the fun in having a meal with these guys would blow it far away. The ordeal would start with the discussion on what to cook. After an hour with no solid decision, some frustrated mind would start with a bowl of rice. Another hand would join in and start cutting potatoes and onions as if being told to by some divine power. As soon as they are done, few more hands would dive in and start making magic out of mashed potatoes. Finally after four funny hours, it would all end up in one drooling meal.

With the cold winter winds beginning to blow heavily it became more and more tougher to tread the distance for every meal I slowly started cooking at my house. But the house found its new guests. With the winter holidays around the corner and with more Indians in Loughborough getting to know each other, the house became sort of a meeting point. Soon it turned out to be a party house and a B&B for few others. As the numbers kept increasing, the number '367' became a popular phrase and conversations soon began addressing 367 as a whole than its individual inmates. Whether it be a bad day, boredom to be beaten, an (un)invited party, a night out or a visit back to Loughborough there would always be an alien in the house picking one or more of the above reasons. The couch soon began hosting more and more happy occupants.

Parties come with pains. The enjoyments started taking its toll on the house and the inmates. Cleaning the house raised an issue. Expenditures on food skyrocketed. But still the happiness surmounted it all and the countless plans to quit partying were all disarmed. The partying continued and so did the pains and the breakdowns. It would be hard to point at something that has not been damaged either partly or entirely. The stove had to be replaced with miraculously the new being made to resemble the old one in damage status now. The microwave has a two-inch diameter hole on the top surface with only God knows how it was made. The heating, the bulbs, the shower and even the door-knob was not spared. But what is fun without a little adventure.

But now as we prepare to leave the den once and for all, as me and satish saw the couch being dragged and dumped outside, the kitchen being teared down for rennovation and us packing our bags and leaving behind the emptiness, we could only think of all the happy times, relish all the delicious meals, remember those joyous parties and pray that clubeasy doesn't charge us for breaking so many stuffs!!!

Little did Satish knew of what was about to come when he said 'yes' to me on the dayI first met him and asked him "Do you speak tamil?". He might as well regret for saying 'yes' to the series of questions that followed after. "Are you going to London?", 'yes', "Are you going to study there?", 'Yes', "Are you going to Loughborough?", 'yes'. The mistake was already done and I ended up staying on the couch in his house for a week. Several issues prevented me from fixing an accommodation prior to my arrival in the UK. It was exactly a year back that I landed here. I packed my bags and left for London banking solely on the university to solve my accommodation crisis. The yellow sticker given to me by the university staff at Heathrow to group students said it all, 'No Accommodation'.

Luckily I had met these three kind hearted fellas, Ashok, Sathish and Praveen at the Mumbai Airport as we were waiting to board the flight. I was given a ray of hope when they informed me that a single room might still be free in the house they had booked together. That too was puffed out when we arrived here only to find it to have been already booked. With no place to wander carrying all my luggages, my very first night in UK was spent on a couch. In fact the entire first week was spent on the same couch with my baggages waiting to be unpacked. But I was lucky to have been tagged with a bunch of nice guys who seemed to enjoy my sambar as much as they enjoyed the english weather.

My house hunt during the first week turned out to be more adventurous than I thought. "Is that a gun?" said the landlord when she showed me around one of my 'would be' house mate's room. I was searching for a small toy gun or a pistol of some sort on the tables. But when she pointed her fingers at the huge machine gun with all the ammos lying around, I stood there like I've just seen a python out of its cage and on the verge of wetting my pants. "He is a nice guy though, you'll sure love staying with him!!!" said the landlord. 'Yea rite!!!'

After hunting around Loughborough for an entire week in search of a room, I was introduced to Dr. Chan through a friend of mine. He owned a house at 92, Blackbrook road and was kind enough to let a room for me to stay in for a very low rent. And thus my week long ordeal of staying in a couch and hunting for a house ended there. I packed my bags again and headed to my room which luckily turned out to be right behind 367 New Ashby road (The house with the couch!!!). My new room was pretty nice and spacious. It had a good view of an amazing backyard.

Finally unpacking my bag after a week and arranging all my stuffs inside the king sized wardrobe and shelves in my room. After putting things in place, I remembered that there was one last thing to do before I hit bed. I took out the brand new analog clock with all the great artwork of a horse with its raised frontlegs and a dial that can be rotated along its axis. It was given to me by my mom and was told that I should keep it safe through the year. I gave it a nice wipe so that it looked shiny, loaded the single pencil battery inside and saw it spring to life and start ticking. Thinking that with this, my time here in this strange land would be happy and prosperous, I went to bed keeping it on the table by my bedside.

It struck me like a hammer in my head. The clock turned out to be the only source of noise in this silent jungle. For someone who is used to be sleeping in the loud noise of a ceiling fan, this sounded a bit awry and too noisy to sleep. I took the battery out and put the clock to sleep before I hit bed again surrounded by a ghostly silence. Reassuring myself "I am definitely gonna have a nice time here..."

To be continued....

Owing to the overwhelming response that my first blog in english received, (thanks to the two brave hearted men who commented on my post and had let the world know that they had the courage to read through it), here I am doing my honest bit as an Indian in fighting against the English by daring to write a second blog in English.

After a gruelling week filled with days of not taking bath and occassionally bathing at my neighbour's, my bathroom has finally been redesigned and completed. Fearing of hearing those threatening words from my landlord "Could you give me a hand with this!!!", I've even refrained myself from going upstairs for a nature's call and has always pushed it to after 6pm. On an uncontrollable morning, I had to go upstairs and ended up fitting the shower enclosure.

Considering the fact that we had been warned prior to the commencement of the tear down operation, that our house wouldn't be inhabitable for couple of weeks and to stay away from it, two guys managed to run as far as London and stayed in exile at their Kin's place. Another one could only manage to Leicester. Me and Abhijith, the poor Master's students couldn't find refuge in any kind or form and were left with no option but to stay inside the confines of our room walls which we were promised, would not be touched. Didn't realise that this would be true to letter when the damaged patch of floor outside my room and the beading surrounding my door on the outside were changed with me locked inside.

Now came the turn for my living room tiles. My Landlord's initial efforts of chiseling out the old mosaic look alike vinyl flooring on the evening i was writing the prevoius blog, turned fruitless. They had been glued to the ground with a special black paste and was not meant to give way for a small chisel board. It was finally the moment when he decided that this calls a job for the specialists, though he considers himself to be one. And then, they arrived. Two men, robed with clothes of all colours and custom made for a painting job got down to work and things just sounded like getting heated up. Yes, things were heated up as they had to spray fire on the flooring to melt the black paste and to scrape it out.

Our living room was temporarily shifted to the kitchen which has now officially joined the list of inaccessible hotspots in and around the house. Hotspot refers to atmospheric condition and any misinterpretation is nullified. New tiles were laid. But there was something wierd in the way they were laid. Only the middle part of the room was covered and the outer area was left untouched. Later my landlord revealed that it was to enable us to walk around. Yes, walk around the tiles. It was much worse when the walk around areas were completed. After ordering for food, I had to ask the delivery guy to come around the house to the backyard and deliver it on my room window.

Now was the moment when I at last, heaved a sigh of relief with all the works completed. No more broken bathtub, no more leaky ceiling, no more plaster droppings and no more inaccessible hotspots. Just then, my landlord knocked on my door and asked me, "Ganesh, would you be in your room tomorrow, I would be painting the living room walls." The chinese are famous for a special short word in english and the long way they pronounce it. "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"

Even as I was typing the title of this blog in English, I realized that my blogger had brilliantly retained the language settings from my previous posts and started converting it to Tamil fonts. Felt like the cry of a baby and making me remind the injustice I'm doing to my own self. Yet, as I have succumbed to the persistent request from the kind hearted dearest ones who seem to have a bit of difficulty in reading Tamil, which for obvious reasons turns out to be their mother tongue too, here comes a blog in english from the mind of a person who is not yet ready for it.

But the worst thing of all is, "What the hell would I write about?". The conditions around me are totally favourable towards making me plunge naked into a filled bathtub and scream under water, but defenitely not towards making me write a blog. To say that I'm sweating like a pig on this 24^C summer evening would eventually mean an improvement. And to add jet fuel to this bonfire, my living room ceiling and walls were restrengthened with a coating of plaster thereby converting it to the largest furnace i've ever seen from the inside. And to top it all, my land lord is still outside chiseling out the old flooring with his respectful tenants being asked to bear the noise.

With all the above said commotion happening outside my room, I've stopped caring about things piling up inside my room too and never dared to go out to the kitchen and put some stuff back to their rightful place, unless I wanted plaster droppings on my head. Just to present an example, empty space on my studty table has become more scarce than an empty plot of land in Annanagar. It's filled with stuff for which i've even lost track of their arrival time on my table.

My empty water bottle with its cap lost somewhere in the darkspots of my room. Tiny towers of coins - one with pounds, one with euros and a last one with mixture of cents and pennies. An empty glass in which I believe I drank milk as I could identify it from the white sediment on the bottom. A tiny electronic clock adjacent to its analog version that has not been put to use from my very first night in this room. My mom gave it to me and said it would work well. Yes it did, and it also turned out to be the only source of sound and sounded a bit awry on my very first night in this room.

A little framed photo of me and shraddha is resting on the base of the table lamp in which for no apparent reasons, the lamp seem to be pointing at the ceiling. But its wierd posture has not been much of a bother since the bulb in it breathed its last few months ago. My current pay slip from subway for which I had to fight with my manager and had to send her three harsh mails stating that my new 1 pound hike for becoming 22 years old has not been taken into consideration while calculating my salary. A bottle of mayonnaise with the spoon left to rest in it for weeks together and now the mayo smells and tastes more the flavour of a stainless steel spoon.

To save my name, there is a book on magnetic nanostructures lying along with the notepad on an unnoticed corner like a piece of antique. A coffee cup with the stain of coffee thats only a couple of days old is surrounded by a large tabe spoon, my razor, an optical mouse for my laptop, calculator, a stack of CDs, a bag of chocolate chip cookies, a clip used while drying clothes, my USB drive and all the above said things submerged partially or completely under piles of tiny bits of paper. These have now become permanent residents on my table with my laptop becoming the central tomb in this land of mysterious objects.

Wondering how someone would possibly be able to sit and think of something constructive to write a blog in such a surrounding, I realised that i've already reached the end of it!!!

உறங்கும் பிள்ளையின் உறக்கம் கலைக்க
தன் மனம் ஒவ்வாது

தட்டில் கிடந்த சோற்றை பிசைந்து
உருண்டை பிடித்து அவன் வாயில் ஊட்டி

இதழில் ஒட்டிய பருக்கை துடைத்து
அருகில் கிடந்து, அவனை அன்பாய் பார்த்து

கட்டி அனைத்து கம்பளி போர்த்தி
ஒரு குவளை நீர் அருந்தி உறங்கினாள் தாய்

இன்னும் ஆறு திங்கள்கள் உன் அவசரம் பொறுத்திருந்தால்
அழகாய் பிறந்திருப்பேன் உன்னை அம்மா என்றிருப்பேன்

என்னை ஈன்ற பொழுதினிலே நீ பெரும் இன்பத்தில்
இரு மடங்கென் இதழ்களிலே இன்பமாய் பூத்திருப்பேன்

உன் முகம் நான் காண உன் அகத்தில் காத்திருந்தேன்
என் முகம் நீ காணும் ஏக்கமும் இழந்தது ஏன்?

தீமைகள் செய்தேனோ என்னை தீண்டவும் மறுத்தாயோ
கருவறையில் வைத்தென்னை தீக்கிறையாய் கொடுத்தாயோ

குழலும் யாழும் இனியது என்றென் குரலும் கேட்க மறுத்தாயோ
உயிரை கொடுத்தது போதும் என்றென் உறவும் முறிக்க விழைந்தாயோ

என்னை அழித்து உன்னை காக்க எமன் கொடுத்த ஷதமோ
இசைந்த உடனே இறந்து இங்கே என்னை முந்தியது உன் மனமோ

என் முகமும் அறியாய்! மொழியும் கேட்டிலாய்!
மூப்பில் இறந்து என் நாடு வந்தால்

பிறக்கும் முன்பே இறந்த என்னை உன்
பிள்ளை என்றே அறிவாயா? "அம்மா" என்பேன் அணைப்பாயா?

உச்சியை தொட்டவரில் ஒருவரும் சொன்னதில்லை
நான் ஏறி வந்த படிகளிலே இனிமை உள்ளதென்று

பிள்ளையை பெற்ற தாயில் ஒருவரும் சொன்னதில்லை
இவனை பெற்றதிலே வலி கண்டதில்லை என்று

சிங்கமாய் இருந்தாலும் உணவு தட்டில் கிடைப்பதில்லை
சிறு கல்லும் இங்கேதான் தட்டாமல் நகர்வதில்லை

உச்சியில் ஒரு கல் வைத்தால் அது கோபுரம் ஆகாது
முன்னே ஒரு கால் வைத்தால் அதோடு பயணங்கள் முடியாது

நேற்றைக்கு கண்ட கனவு எழுந்தவுடன் பலிக்காது
இன்றைய கனவும்தான் உறங்காமல் தொடங்காது

அதிசயத்தை நம்பி இங்கே ஆவது காரியமில்லை
அடி ஒன்றில் நிறுத்திவிட்டால் அம்மியும் நகர்வதில்லை

தட்டவும் கட்டவும் எண் இரண்டு கைகள் உண்டு
அங்கேயும் இங்கேயும் ஓடுகின்ற கால்கள் உண்டு

இரண்டும் இல்லா முடம் உண்டு, அவரிடம்
புகழ் நிறைந்த வாழ்வுண்டு

இரண்டும் உள்ள ஜடம் உண்டு, அவரிடமும்
பெயருக்கென்றோர் வாழ்வுண்டு

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