Monday, 28 December 2009

Frozen Anatomy + Warm Memories = My English Christmas

That picture on the left is from my Christmas Walk which afterwards my toes and my hands would have take 2 minutes in the microwave to defrost. I have officially hated snow. . But my soul is thawed by the generosity, kindness, and Christmas spirit of people who a year ago were strangers and unknown. I got a bunch of flowers from my regular doctor on the block, several boxes of chocs of different nationalities, tins of all-English Cadbury Roses, bottle of wine, Authentic Scottish Shortbread, bears, and trousers, socks, tights…oh, gifts.

Bragging is not my usual aura of the day, but I am just pleasantly surprised, blushed-kind-of-embarrassed with the kindness that my British local friends had shown. You see, bunch of young people like us are not particularly sweet and kind at this were never a thing in my family. I have to tell what I want, and then if Im really nice, I get money for it. But here in England, I just discovered the absolute joy of ripping a wrapper off to uncover something no matter how tiny or how fast it would bloat my body fat, there is that jumping jack thrill that somebody put in an effort to think, buy, and wrap a present for you. And then the cards, I am absolutely into this Britishness of sending Christmas cards around, and no matter how laconic the message is. (Starts with my name. Sandwiched by a one liner greeting. Ends with their Name or a scribbled Signature). Dont get me wrong I love the x and O's too.

I do believe it’s really the thought counts. I have got more Cards this holiday than what I had accumulated in my young 22 years of existence.

And boy do I love one from my post, albeit the Grinchy Postal Strikes, my post did arrive and you know that feeling that you think it’s a bit awkward to send somebody a Card because you just met them but then they were really nice, but your pride got the better of you, and then that person’s name suddenly shows up after Sincerely, in your mail. That is humbling. And a bit heart thugging. And that would mean a Happy New Year Present and an early Christmas 2010 card delivered to them by January 1.

I had a rough year. A really rough year. Hence every small miniscule act of kindness around me is such a breather, and every little good thing no matter how petty it is, seems like a miracle.

Food wise had been British turned University-ish again after Christmas. I had turkey roast for about 2 weeks now. And I made my first British Beef Roast with some sides of greens and roast mushrooms, next day I did that with an egg-whitish omelette, and the next day I had it with salad, I still have some of it so I may do deconstructed steak and ale pie with it. My roast looks suspiciously too rare. Fine, a bit more than too rare. I am not sure. But if I die of food poisoning in the next few days, tell them to look at my fridge and ribbon that too pink meat with a “police line do not cross”

I had early Christmas celebration with friends in London. But I stopped over my good friend, Thai Sushi Chef Dang to drop off his birthday present, I had a salmon skin roll and 2 pieces of eel sushi (Thanks Zin Sushi at Trafalgar Road, Greenwhich for on the house lunch), which is amazing as all his Sushi is always amazing. We talked about old times at the old restaurant as I scrolled back at his camera and found old pictures that were mostly of us holding a wine glass or a beer or both Hah. Old times.

I was 2 hours delayed but not because of the snow or the inability of First Capital Connect to hire more train drivers but because of my ability to get lost. Didn’t realize my train doesn’t stop in London Bridge during weekdays where Im getting the connecting line, hence I was lost in the outskirts of London. My google phone and google map quite helped me figuring out that there was an underground in Tooting Broadway which is a bus away from Tooting, my next stop. I should also probabaly google if my name is snynonymous to directionless or if my horoscope reads no to train travel. Anyways, Got in there, carried on, got off the DLR. And now what. I could walk or get a bus, since Im utterly a direction idiot that day, I carried on taking a bus, took me 3 tries to get to the right bus, which apparently just took a minute ride to my stop. It wasn’t my day for travel. I am really not this bad usually. But London Day Travelcard saved me, got me all through this plus the ride back home and all the rides in between for 10 quid or £9.55 to be exact. Not bad. Anyway, sushi done and dusted, I went back to Central to meet my college friends

Next Stop Leicester Square. Got there without a hitch. But I was early and cold and hungry, I know I was going to dinner but I could really use a coffee. So I picked the small Italian place with a nice pizza parlour and a nice looking bartender. Authentic Cappucino. Mediocre Margherita. Amazing Brazilian Smile. 2 more flirtatious smiles and Im off, I cant have his smile for dinner, I have to meet my friends. But I took a bit of walk around and saw Trocadero Mall and remembered my first proper Date in Uk, my date got me 2 Simpsons in one go from the stuff toy catcher machine. Talk about lucky dates, and unlucky relationships. Anyways I was afraid I’m veering off to Soho, hence I try to walk back near the station, and yeah guess what I got lost again, my friends gave me a call and rescue me. Boy, did I not know that we’re having Sushi for dinner. Omakari, the place is. Got a Sushi bento Box. And tucked in to my 2nd round of raw food of the day. The fish is ok, not particularly an ecstacy but the salad was impressive, it had one of the most imposing and sharp dressing I’d ever had. It was promegnatey or citrusy with a texture of a freshly squeezed orange, fruity but not too sweet. I listened to my tummy, and I could hear my mercury level's rising.
After Dinner, we decided to undo the Dinner, well technically they want to try out the rides in Leicester Square, which looks tame from the sidelines, but bloody hell, a spinning roller coaster don’t get along with the swimming salmon in my tummy. I was dazed and cold when we decided we want more of this carouselling. Next Stop Hyde Park, but on the way we saw some street entertainer who is doing Limbo Rock in the tune of Santa's Coming to town. Ultra Cool.

Took the London Bus to Hyde Park where Winter World is. Winter World it is, cold, slushy snow all around but Santa, smell of cinnamon and pretzels, and all things Christmas just anaesthesizes our hypothermia away.

An hour of walk later, rain started to pour and we decided we would go for a last stop for dessert and coffee at a place where one friend works. We had waffle with maple syrup and a vanilla ice cream, it was a good cap off to day of getting lost, spinning around, and getting frozen. We walked to the underground and I went home feeling the Christmas Spirit for the first time.

Spent Christmas day alone, as I would like have a quiet reflective celebration, a sorta tribute, a plea, a prayer that I may have a better year, because even myself I cant believe how I got through this year alive and sane. I decided to go to the Church but it was close so I just took a walk, and it was magnificently serene, as if the heavens thawed out, and it wasn’t that cold either. English weather is in its better mood. I missed the Queen’s message, but I don’t think there’s anything personal or urgent that she’d like to let me know.

Boxing Day in UK or the 26th is a massive craziness of queue and bargains of high street shops and designer brands. Some people camp outside the outlets and when the doors open, as if umpire guns off the sprint to half-prized Guccis and Burberrys. Fights break out, apparently men too loves a good bargain, celings fall apart, and police get involved but at least not with the haggling. But it is a good British tradition, apparently it comes from “boxed presents” collected by tradesmen after Christmas Day for their good service, it also roots back to the Feast of St. Stephen, but now its more famous as a shopping holiday and an excuse to splurge a couple of hundreds with relatively less guilt. I did my own share of consumerism but I had a rather quiet Boxing Day.

The 27th is the day I zoom back to being a UUI. At Uni Under the Influence of Delibarate Eating and Drinking. It was a fellow Filipino Birthday with loads of Filipino Food. And I admit, no matter how I have fallen in love with Roasts and Brussels Sprouts, there is that hearty homey feeling as I tucked in to my mung beans, sinigang (pork stew), pansit(noodles), and liempo (pork BBQ). 2 rounds later, and a drinking game was up, 2 hours later, everyone intoxicated, we pull a decade back off our real age and played with leftover snow, that in a matter of time took over my friend’s living room. Went home hangovered, bruised with snow wrestling and armed with a promise not to drink ever again (don’t we all say that). I was down for a day, and realize Im not that young anymore, I don’t have the energy to party all night and cure the hangover all day. But it was a good fun. A good marathon of days that is neither grand, nor illustrious, but it was hearty and jovial, it was nourishing for the soul, and it was simple and spontaneous, it was playful and good-natured but it wasn’t extravagant yet it was sincere and full of kindness and warmth. It was just what I need to finally finally bid goodbye to a year that tried and challenged me to my guts end. The year needs respect and proper acclaim, and I hereunto take my cap off and humble myself.

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