Last weekend I went to visit my all-time favorite physicist (I call anyone who does physics a physicist)/hiphop star (she likes to wear her baseball caps backward-forward, dope!)/great friend (there are different kinds of friends: friends you can show off with because they study quantum computing at imperial college london; friends you better keep them to yourself because they are just pure hot-mess, trolling on internet at 5am, stuck in apartment all day long like a hermit crab) in London! I was also stocked to see LSE in person, which turned out to be a huge disappointment, but more on that topic later.
My trip to London was very troublesome: for whatever reason I bought a transit flight from SF to LA, then LA to London on February 14th. It rained all day long, and my flight to LA was delayed by an hour, which in turn made me miss my flight to London. After one night in LA, which I spent listening to too much Gabriel o Pensador, I boarded on another flight the next day from LA to London. The flight itself was quite smooth, except I was sitting next to a British couple, who turned out were not pissed off by me from the very beginning, only that they, like many other British people, have their eyes grown on top of their heads.
Anyways I arrived in London, surprised by the nice attitude of UK custom officers. I met with my friend Lulu (who has appeared in this blog some two years ago; good memories: she was the one who brought/kidnapped me to Japan and introduced me to wonderful addiction of Snowboarding) and again, was struck by the efficiency of London subway system. We had Mexican food after I arrived in Lulu’s place, I actually thought they were good tacos.
Then off to visit Notting Hill’s long stretching street of antique dealership. Less formal than it sounds like, the Notting Hill markets proved to be a mishmash of hand-made delicacies and jaw-droppingly expensive —- Maps.
I was completely out of battery once we returned from Notting Hill. After two hours of conscious-less nap, Lulu and I went to Chinatown for dinner. Lulu, with her usual humor, commented that the Chinese people can somehow always plant their community in the center of a given metropolitan. Chinatown in London is much more organized. We walked around and had a Chinese crepe for dinner. After that we walked more, with a surprising encounter of a Scottish street-singer. He had such great voice: it’s deep like drums; and proficient skill in playing Guitar. The way he played his guitar, he laid it on his lap and played it like a piano. Lulu, who was also a guitar player, told me that he probably learnt Guitar like that. I was amazed. We also went to a bookstore, ah heaven on earth! I realize I should restrict my visit to bookstores now, I’m like a drug addict in Amsterdam there.
The same night we went out to watch a movie at the Museum of Natural Science. Jokingly we tried to act like a lesbian couple, since it’s an event in celebration of Valentine’s day. Apparently we were really bad at it, the doorman stopped us to check our authenticity as valentines. We got busted, but felt much more relieved to find out that many normal friends also showed up in groups at the viewing. I loved the Humpback whale skeleton sleeping in dead silence right above our head. Have I mentioned they are my favorite marine animals? Lulu was also there when I admired Humpback whales’ penes in Iceland. Alert to male readers: I wouldn’t click/visit if I were you.
Lulu is still the active thinker, with whom I spent many nights figuring out my life back in Berkeley. She has a big heart, keeping updated with many more friends than I do, at the same time providing brand-name high-quality advice. I told her about my frustration in having my life too easy: I became more aware of my privileged family background, and the many conveniences I enjoyed growing up. Would I be tough enough to compete with other people who experienced life the real way? I am also glad to see that she has taken one more step to challenge herself, I simply wish that she knew how great she was already.
The next morning I overslept, and had to arrive at mass late. Lulu came with me to experience holiness in St.Paul’s Cathedral. The mass is longer (1:30 mins), the group much larger, and the environment much more solemn than Newman Hall at Berkeley. One really feels one’s powerlessness and urge to obey in that architecture. We came forward to receive our blessing, a very gentle crossing on our foreheads.
Despite living for almost 1 year away from one another, we still like the same food. Ramen in front of the British museum turned out to be the best Ramen I have had abroad. We talked about “The Rape of Nanjing”, a book Lulu has been reading. Turns out John Rabe, a German businessman and Nazi party member was the founder of safety zone in Nanjing, which sheltered approximately 200,000 Chinese people from slaughter during the massacre. An interesting find.
“How come he would be in China?”
“He worked for Siemens AG at the time.”
“Now it all makes sense, right?”
The British Museum is huge, but my favorite part is the Ottoman Empire section: such delicate and beautiful civilization. I first developed my love towards Ottoman Empire in a class at Cal, my GSI apparently speaks Turkish and is studying the history of Ottoman Empire. I was intrigued by the Devshirme system and the religious freedom it promised. How come that we as humans achieved tolerance once in the past, but can no longer do it now? I napped in the British Museum, on a bench for 20 mins. The time difference has turned me into a sleeping machine.
Afterwards we went to see LSE. I really had such high expectations towards the school: I had friends who went there, friends who are currently enrolled there, friends who wish to be admitted there. But one had to admit, the campus itself is nothing like campus of Berkeley. I realize that I am finally falling in deep deep love with Berkeley during my last semester here. Nothing seems to match its lovely quirkiness. And to think I found the campus mediocre when I first got admitted!
We had kabab and Turkish yogurt for dinner. Lulu enlightened me again in terms of good restaurants in Berkeley: so many things to try before I graduate! The next morning after one cup of breakfast tea, and several pieces of cornbread, I set off for the airport and said goodbye London, for now.