Student on campus – Life in a University Halls of Residence


It was a pleasant night in May and I was hurrying through the last round editing of my writing portfolio. I was a few hours away from the submission deadline and was feverishly giving the finishing touches to the prose, poetry and drama pieces I had written for the final assessment of a major course. My sleep-starved eyes were drooping and the glare of the laptop screen gave me a headache. It was then that I heard the muffled sound – a thud and some indecipherable noises. My tired brain signaled that the sound was familiar but I carried on my battle with grammar and syntax. They were winning and I was fighting with the last ounce of energy left in me. Then I heard that noise again, I ignored it; and again, this time followed by a giggle. That was when I knew what it was and snapped.

Now let me give you a bit of background on the location. I was living and writing in the University Halls of residence.

My cubby hole at the Halls (and yes that’s a Panda on the bed, her name is Switty :p)

My little study bedroom in a flat shared by six students was, well, ‘cosy’ to put it mildly. Of course I loved it and thought it was charming and comfy, but it had a weird way of getting in your way leading to much bumping into things at the slightest movement (and this coming from a puny 4 ft 8 inches tall individual). The corridor was narrow and the shared kitchen well equipped, but like the rest of the rooms – tiny.

Looking out of the bedroom window you could see the low buildings of the campus sprawled out below you or the woods and the campus bar, depending on which side of the blocks your room was placed.

View from my window- Campus bar

There must have been around 400 students-international and British- living in the various blocks of the campus and there was always a constant hum of conversation, drunken revelry or music from different parts of the world. Most residents of the Halls in question, studied Business/Law/Nursing in the same campus and only a few like me whose classes were held in some other campus were placed there due to unavailability of rooms in the Halls close to our campus.

Flat Corridor

The study-bedrooms were all in a row and shared walls with the rooms on either side of the flat. It wasn’t much of a problem in the day time, but for a person like me who sits up all night writing, it was a breach of privacy. Not mine but the neighbours’! Due to my nightly writing I knew when my neighbours came or went, flushed their toilet, got homesick and skyped their parents on the other end of the globe or in the worst privacy breach – brought home a date. Most times when I wrote or read for pleasure or for a deadline far away in the future, I just shut out the noise by playing music or chewing gum. But that night was limits. A deadline loomed and I was not satisfied with the portfolio. The last thing I needed was yet another hour of making-out noises. What the irritation and my snapping led to is history but I recall it till today as the night when a pleasant friendship almost ended and I made the decision of moving out.

It has been two months since I moved out of the Halls of residence into a private apartment block and it has been a strange eight weeks. On the one hand I am relieved to be out of the cramped room, the noises and the crowd but on the other hand I miss it all! Gone are the days when I used to be woken up by the strumming of a guitar or banging of doors when students hurriedly left for classes. The apartment block I live in is tranquil, isolated and well ventilated. No resident drunkenly chants ‘Omlette au fromage’ in the middle of the night or throws stuff at the window of a neighbour to wake them up. Nobody sets off a fire alarm just for the fun of it and there are no midnight snack fests.  In fact, our contract clearly states that we were not to hold any house parties or play loud music or in short sound alive! I have not seen more than one neighbour in the last two months and the sounds of a baby crying now and then and some stray notes of Western Classical music drifting up to my room are the only sounds of habitation I have heard all these weeks.

Woken up by yet another fire alarm

The campus Kitty. He must be the cat with the most number of names in the world. I call him Garfield.

Oh how I miss the Halls! I had so wanted to live on campus and as I had stayed with my parents during undergrad and later on in rented apartments with friends. It was like a dream come true when I was accepted at the Halls and I was ready to overlook all the shortcomings and make the most of my stay. But the time came when I put comfort over a dirty but lively flat. Anyway this is my ode to the nine months of life on campus that lived up to all my expectations and so much more, taught me patience, cleaning (:p) and sharing and left an ever-lasting impression on my mind.

So guys, if you ever get a chance to live in student accommodation, grab the opportunity with both hands. The going might get messy but it’s a lot of fun. 🙂 Do you have any on-campus stories of your own?

You might also like Bangalore to London 2 and London through my eyes.

Back to blog, Amy Winehouse style!


Well well… long time no see. 😀  I have been away three and a half months from this page that I call my own in this big scary World Wide Web, but now that I have returned, it feels great, the way you feel when you come home. So my dear readers (who might have long since forgotten me) rest assured that this time I am back for good. I have completed ten great months in London, finished two semesters of my Masters degree, well under way on my dissertation, I have a new job to speak of and just a few hours short of hitting a life event (more of that later). So I am all set to rant away till the sun sets. :p

First about the blog title…Amy Winehouse style indeed! Let me just say that I am bad at giving titles and Amy Winehouse crooning Back to Black in her deep voice  just put me back in the mood to channel my thoughts into words. So here…I dedicate this blog to the joy and hope her amazing lyrics have given me and other newbie writers.

That done, let me tell you about what I have been doing all this while I was not blogging (or watching TV or simply lazing around :p). Ahhh don’t worry I will tell the story in pictures. 😀

Road tripping through Scotland happened.

Breath-taking Scotland!

This the kind of terrain we drove through. Real test of driving skills 😀

History, great hospitality & a beautiful land- the perfect recipe for an unforgettable holiday!

and a trip to Manchester

Old Trafford, Manchester United stadium

Manchester as seen from Cloud 23, the 23rd floor skyline bar

and York

The ancient York city walls

York as seen from the York minster tower

Old railway ads in the National Railway museum in York. They even had some of the first railway coaches.

Medieval house still used as The Merchant Guild Hall. York is dripping with history and architecture like this, Norman forts, Georgian houses and even Viking remains I learned.

and Bath

A street in Bath. Charming and well worth its UNESCO world heritage site title is all can say about this beautiful city. Quick fact, Bladud the legendary King and father of King Lear was supposed to have been cured of Leprosy after bathing in the hot springs in Bath following which he founded the city of Bath long forgotten after the Roman times in Britain

Royal Crescent the Georgian novelty houses turned hotels and museum

The Roman Bath complex housing the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from the Roman Bath

Natural Hot spring water gushing out of a spring overflow built by the ancient Romans to feed the different Baths in the complex

and Stonehenge

I finally visited the site and stared in awe and reverence while friends made fun of me! :/

The beautiful countryside near Stonehenge

Great Portland station- the oldest underground station in London. It was like I was transported back to 1900.

and Thorpe park

Colossus, the record breaking twisted 10 loop roller coaster

As if the Colossus wasn’t twisted enough, there was the Swarm. Seriously crazy ride. Thought I was a goner!

Ahhh getting drenched on a blistering hot day on the Tidal Wave. Heaven.

not to mention The Olympics

At the Opening ceremony rehearsal. I still can’t believe I was there!

(All the Olympic photos credit go to my friend Jodie and the Scotland & Manchester trip photos to Pooja, Hitesh, Umar & Vishnu. :))

An AWESOME performance!

The Indian touch. Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture at the Olympic Park. Proud but still don’t understand it. :p

It has been an exciting summer here in Kingston and as I write, I hear the cheers resounding in the air for the Olympics Women’s cycling road race that is under way. Cyclists cruise through this town as residents gather around pubs and all along the route to cheer and blow horns, wave flags and show the cyclists support on their six hour long strenuous race. I did my part for the Men’s road race yesterday but feel too lazy today to move my butt to step outside into the rain and cheer. So I am showing my support by waving from my kitchen. Yes that’s right the cyclists cruise past my compound. 😀

Ok…the photo is the product of lazy zooming in amidst rain from my kitchen. See if you can spot the cyclists.

Anyway am saving  all my energy for my five hour shift at work tomorrow and I have no intention of standing there braving the cold. Yessss the sun is missing from the English summer or at least it is this year, as a British friend carefully explained to me. Supposedly the sun is a limited edition item even in summer here. Yeah all those shorts gone waste!

And we finally arrive at the topic of the major life event. 😀 J 😀

I turn 25 tomorrow! A quarter of a life well lived and I thank the person above for making these years as joyful as it has been and hope I continue to be showered with more blessings. Anyhoo at least now on I can blame all my confusions and crazy behaviour on Quarter life crisis and Pop! I have opened the champagne. 😀

You might also be interested in London through my eyes and Bangalore to London 2.

Bangalore to London 2


Four months after moving to Kingston it has finally dawned on me to blog about my ‘first impressions’ in this London borough by the Thames. (Am a whatever! I know…) As the prologue has already reached my readers, (those of you who have read the post Bangalore to London would know what I am talking about) it is but natural that the story should continue. So here goes…my usual commentary with some pictures all from my first week in Kingston. 😀

 I arrived in Kingston bent with approximately 50 Kgs of luggage on a Saturday night on the 24th of September. I had never crossed the Indian border before, let alone set foot in the UK and I had no idea how I would locate the University Halls of Residence or whom I would call if I did not find it. Luckily I found a black cab at the airport, the famous taxis of London driven by know-all-the routes drivers and the cabbie after much consultation of maps and discussions with colleagues over the radio managed to put me on the doorstep of the Halls in record time and without any haggling. I was already smitten by London and the town of Kingston.

I had been expecting to walk into a cold, drab, colourless, hateful town and I was naturally taken aback by the greenery, beauty and the order around me. I am a hardcore Indian by heart but I should admit I felt…relief! Clean and green just as I liked it and add some order to it (orderly traffic, neat roads, no haphazard parking or crammed rows of buildings) and I am sure to fall head over heels in love with any place that could boast of these three things. Maybe it’s the effect of growing up in a little, unpolluted town or maybe the effect of living in an overpopulated, chaotic city for the last three years, but the result was there to see.  I loved Kingston and I was ready to ignore the absence of rainbow colours of an Indian city. The weather did not bother me too. It was still summery in September and I felt at home.

The moment I checked in and was shown to my flat I crashed out. It was like in a Tinkle story- the traveller who arrives someplace after a tiresome journey to find a nice little room and immediately he pulls out a sheet from his bag and crashes out. Well that’s exactly what I did. I was knocked out flat flat for more than ten hours and when I opened my eyes it was nearly ten the next morning. I showered, called up family and decided to go out for breakfast and explore the town. But not in my wildest dreams was I prepared for the ‘adventure’ that day.

I met a flatmate and following her instructions walked to the bus stop nearby. If the previous night I was smitten, then that morning I was madly in love with the place. My Halls are in a campus called Kingston Hill and though I did not see any hill nearby, it did not take me long to realise that the campus was a conserved area, bordered with woods and teeming with squirrels and birds. I walked with a spring in my step to the bus stop and waited for a bus, got into a trademark red double-deck when it arrived and only then realised that I did not have change to pay. All I had were notes of 50£ denominations and just as expected the driver exclaimed ‘50 pounds?!’ when I presented it to him. I got out of the bus red-faced and decided to walk instead. I had been told the town centre was a 20-25 minute walk away and I trudged along taking in the fresh morning air. That’s when I started getting a creepy feeling down my neck. Something did not feel right. I kept walking but I was not sure if I was going the right way and that’s when it hit me. There was nobody on the street to ask directions…not one soul!! Nearly eleven on a Sunday morning and the main road in town was deserted. I almost freaked out…was there a curfew of some kind or something that had happened in the town I wondered. But I was not sure and hurried past closed storefronts and houses with no signs of inhabitation. There weren’t even any vehicles on the streets, only buses and a few bicycles.

Then I came into the town centre and finally saw some human beings… It felt like I had come out of the theatre after watching a spooky movie. 😀  I was plain stupid and had not realised that people took weekends seriously here. I found a sandwich bar and bought some coffee and breakfast and as I sat eating on a bench in the town square I saw people slowly emerging, first in ones or twos, then in crowds, women pushing buggies (prams), children skipping about, men with families… I could see the town literally ‘coming to life’. And then I heard the music, a violin playing and I went after it…following the sound around the square till I found a street musician playing in front of the mall and people stopping to listen to him… That did the magic. It all felt strange and I was still homesick but I had been won over.

Then on it has been a rollercoaster ride. There have been the lows when people have been rude to me, when I had problems catching the English accent, when I had to go through the tedious (for weird old me) process of making friends etc etc but there have also been the highs such as the pure pleasure of learning new things every day, the kick I get out of exploring London, the peace in the mornings while I wake up to the strumming of a guitar etc etc. It’s nice to be a student again and it’s nice to have all the time in the world to do what I want to do- write.

Sometimes I do ask myself whether I did the right thing in quitting a well paying job, spending a ton of money for a ‘phoren’ degree and coming to live in a strange country amid strange people. But then I remember this saying (Audrey Hepburn’s I guess) “The most important thing is to enjoy your life, to be happy, it’s all that matters.” As long as I am happy with what I am doing, I guess am doing it right and that’s all that matters while I take life one step at a time.

Bangalore to London


You only get scared of the giant wheel till you are on it, after that it’s a fun ride you will never forget

Well, well…this is evidently a long pending post that is almost four months late. But I should say it’s in time to greet the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Anyway, after much procrastination and some tough decisions (like deciding not to make my blog a travel diary) I have moved my lazy ass to sit down and write a post for ‘2012’.

First things first, I am not writing from Bangalore, the city which was my home for the last three years and which drove me so damn nuts that I created a blog diary The Color Purple (which thou art reading at the moment) to share my inner most depressed thoughts with the unsuspecting public. :p I am also not writing from my family home in the little beach town Udupi on the west coast of Karnataka where I spent the first 21 years of my life and took refuge from the madness of the world now and then. I am writing from Kingston upon Thames, a borough of London in the far away island of United Kingdom.

I am no longer a workaholic Public Relations professional or a financially independent ‘Fire-brand’. I am a student dependent on parents for pocket money. I no longer live in a cramped rented 1BHK house in Bangalore with a half crazy roommate, filling my lungs with nicotine while pounding out blogs and stories to de-stress. I am writing sitting in my own cubby hole of a study-bedroom with no way of filling my lungs with nico while I write for fear of setting off the fire alarm. I no longer write to de-stress, instead I write full time as apart of my Creative Writing course.  How life changes doesn’t it?

Flashback to January 2011. Overworked. Stressed out. Neurotic. Grumpy. Depressed. You get the drift. That’s when this great idea finally crossed my mind. I thought, “why not go back to University and complete my education? How about doing my Post-grad? I could do with a break right? I had to get that all-day-smile my friends oh so missed back on my face”. It sounded like a great plan and the research began over Kingfisher-Strong powered late night online sessions. A plan emerged, only to be cut short by the family astrologer (to whom my well meaning mother relays every event in our lives) who said I should drop any such plans. After much motherly emotional drama- which every Indian mother worth her salt would approve of- I decided to drop the plan. Well family comes first right?

February and March zipped by and I continued with the banal existence. Then the heavens opened up and sent me a divine message. It was April and I was in the middle of a lead-up meeting to the annual review session at work, sitting across my Boss and was fielding some googlies meant to see how ready I was to take on more responsibility when I was asked this oh-so-irritating question, “Where do you see yourself 10 years from now”? And guess what happened? First time in the three years in that company I was tongue-tied. I did not know what the heck I should answer. No I did not want more responsibility, not even a promotion or a raise. I wanted to be as far away from the profession as possible, I wanted to do something I had lately realised I was born to do. I wanted to write. God It was such a revelation! And that is when I changed my mind. Astrologer or no astrologer, I was going to write full time and I was going to fine tune my writing with a Post-Grad writing degree. The rest was not so easy but eventually it did fall in place. TG!

Strange are the ways of the world. The two people who propped me up through the next few months of mad applying to Universities, arranging finances, battling chicken pox and emotional meltdowns were my mum and my Dad. My Amma’s motherly love overtook beliefs in astrology and she decided to trust in God and help me through the last-minute-applying madness. So here I am, a Science group student who did an Undergrad degree in Journalism (thinking it was her true calling till she actually got into a newsroom and hated it), who stumbled upon Public Relations by chance and put in three years of her life trying to like it and finally was enlightened belatedly that all the while what she thought was a hobby was indeed her passion. WRITING, the ever-so-slippery eel of a calling that dawns on so many people so late in life. (I have a few 50+ year olds in my class and many in their post 30’s.)

So now that I know what I want to do in life am I happy? Well…let me put it this way: – I can’t complain. LOL 😀 I don’t work long hours (though I am hunting for a part-time job), I get to write whatever I want to, whenever I want to, I am writing a novel which is much loved in class, I get to meet some great people and explore a whole new culture that is Britain, I intend to travel through Europe and am getting to learn and do things that I never thought I would. (Aww my…my…that’s an awfully long sentence.) So you see I can’t complain. 😀

All said and done there is something to following your passion. (Amir Khan might have tried hard to convey this message in 3 Idiots but I don’t see any change in the ‘IT world aspiring robots’ of our country.) Following your passion can put a smile back on your face,  bring lightness to your steps, gives you a sunshine attitude that rubs off on people around you and a purpose in life. And money, you ask? Well I don’t know, but if we are happy with what we are doing we will figure out the money part somehow isn’t it? At least, that’s what I think and I want to give my belief a chance. Right or wrong, time alone can tell. After all like a wise guy once said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”