I was pretty excited to finish my latest job (a Discovery series called 'How Do They Do It?') - and kept telling people 'I have next week off!'. Phil helpfully pointed out that I wasn't so much 'off' as 'unemployed'. Thanks Phil. I'm going to start calling it 'annual leave' as this apparently sounds better.
The week off was indeed pretty awesome. I spent five hours on a Monday afternoon in the piano rooms with Ben and Emily (check out my latest song that they kindly agreed to sing for me - with only slightly dodgy sound quality) during which we learnt all the harmonies to the Songs For A New World Opening, failed to do the revue version justice and Phil flat out refused to sing Nigel's part for some reason!
Later in the week there was a lovely afternoon with Sonya and also running round Regents' Park with Fiona and her aunt. On Friday there was an interlude during which Tristan and Rosie and I went for a nice afternoon at the Science Museum and ended up rummaging through bags of cafeteria rubbish with Chads Chadwick. I think it was supposed to be art. Mostly it was coffee cups, paper towels and bits of slimy food. The rubbish sorting team had previously found exciting bits of thrown out stuff such as some large red and white blood cells and two small plastic dragons. We failed to find anything exciting, although yelling 'where are my dragons?' did give the whole thing a dramatic Game of Thrones vibe so there's that.
On Saturday I went to the magical but slightly surreal wedding of 'Anna and Josh' - who had been the lead characters in 'The Dark Side' back in 2010 when she was in her first term at Imperial. I had been quite confused at the time when the actors playing the romantic leads actually got together (a fact I think I denied for some time in the face of the obvious) and the wedding and reception in Nottinghamshire was a continuation of this. I'm still not entirely sure what is real. There were flowers in her hair and huge piles of structurally unstable chocolate cake and the vicar in the church started the sermon by asking them the difference between a mixture and a compound. Did that really happen? I hope so because it was brilliant. There was some confusion between the bride and groom before the bride managed to produce a text-book answer and the vicar (an endearingly awkward young lady) then went on to liken marriage to turning from a mixture to a compound, bound "not by covalent or ionic bonds, but by the bond of love". She also explained that in any relationship it is important to give, "much like sodium gives up its outer electrons to chlorine" and ended with "Love, like the nucleus, is at the centre of all things". I was in tears in the back row - though that may also have been due to the coughing fit during the vows. Oops.
I'm currently in Mumbai airport with my mum and brother - all three of us sitting in a row with our laptops out like the cool kids we are. They overbooked our flight to Hyderabad so we have a three hour wait until the next one which my mum wasn't very impressed by but hey, free wifi!
It has been SO nice lounging around in Mumbai. And eating. There was a lot of eating. Many and various curries mainly - mmmmm. And we went shopping in Westside (*throws 'W' gang side*) which is lucky as I didn't pack that many clothes - I mainly plan to buy them all! We have three second-cousins who we've never met before (twin boys aged 8 and their older brother Steven who's 11) so that was really nice too - if somewhat exhausting. The twins can make even doing a puzzle seem like chaos with pieces flying everywhere and far more shouting than seems necessary!
We also went for a buffet at 'Mainland China' which was awesomely swanky. The starters were mostly just delicious dimsum and there was an entire buffet of dessert which I didn't notice until the end or I'd have left more room! I managed to fit in some honey noodles with butterscotch and chocolate ice-cream and chocolate sauce though. It's a hard life.
My great aunt, Aruna-nayanamma, had booked the table for us and managed to lie to the restaurant while doing so. "They asked if it was anyone's birthday, so I said yes, I don't know why!". We figured someone would have to pretend it was their birthday but no-one was very keen. Especially not after a birthday on a nearby table turned out to involve a man with a guitar and lots of singing and clapping. My aunt tried to target the youngest person at the table, her grandson Steven, who had been sitting quietly minding his own noodles. "Why don't you just say it's your birthday, ok? You don't need to be embarassed." Steven was unimpressed - "No! Why don't you say it's yours!".
Aruna-nayanamma relented with "Fine, I'll just say the person who's birthday it is didn't come." Soon enough the chap came over to check and asked who's birthday it was. My aunt was barely halfway through her explanation of the birthday-boy's no-show before Steven piped up out of nowhere "It's her birthday, she's just embarrassed!". There wasn't much Aruna-nayanamma could say to that - and though she tried to plead with them - "Do you really have to sing??" there was indeed guitaring and singing and clapping and a slice of cake with a candle. The real bonus however, was when they inexplicably presented us with a free bottle of champagne at the end of the meal! It was quite nice too. And the moral of the story is... 'lying will get you free champagne'. Or is it 'Don't try to mess with your grandson or it could backfire'? Or maybe 'Don't pretend it's your birthday unless you're happy to sit through embarrassing singing".
Right, that's the gist of the last week and a half. There was also the three year gap in blog posts before this but I'm just going to ignore that.