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....

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