On September 16th 2014, three years had elapsed since I first set foot on English soil. I don’t think I could have found a better place in England to lay down my temporary roots. Manchester, as a city, is complete for me. Home to one of the world’s best universities, where I have had the good fortune of spending 3 good years working tirelessly, mostly in honing the art of procrastination. The people are warm and friendly, ever ready to strike up a conversation about anything under the sun. One such instance occurred when I was walking home from work last night. I stopped to tell a blues musician, who busks in the night, that he really inspires me to play better music. I ended up chatting with him for half an hour about the most random of things ranging from Brian Cox and electronics to PhDs and life in general.
Every year, I get the chance to start over and experience Manchester like I’m fresh off the bus, thanks to fresher’s week. Fresher’s week, for the uninitiated, is the first week of the year where newcomers generally get introduced to the campus lifestyle, meeting new people and generally having a good time! This year I didn’t attend many events, but I did meet a good group of people during the World Quiz. We had loads of fun drinking and making a fool of ourselves. Surprisingly, we did do quite well, narrowly missing out on third place. The clincher was our apt name – Team Tequila! Pity the night ended before we could move on to living up to it!
I had a very rough welcome back to Manchester after my summer internship and was completely loaded with work until the end of October. Demonstrators for courses have been upgraded to teaching assistants, which basically means more work along with my research! I also had many deadlines to meet with my PhD project and I was completely knackered by the end of September. So, a group of my friends decided to take a weekend off and go on a road trip to climb Ben Nevis.
I was extremely excited as I hadn’t been that far north in Scotland and it also gave me a chance to use my newly acquired UK driving license (it cost me a lot of money!). We drove up on Friday night, stayed over in Glasgow for the night and drove to Nevis in the wee hours of the morning. I got to do a fair bit of the drive, although I was quite happy to just stare out the window most of the time as the views were absolutely fantastic. We were quite lucky to get a clear weekend with lots of sun.
The climb up was fantastic and not that challenging, even though Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK. I was completely taken in by the beauty of Scotland and the vistas at the top were spectacular. I did develop a little cramp in the middle because I’d skipped lunch to climb, but I managed to walk it off easily after gorging on some sandwiches. The overall climb took us close to 5 hours, with around 3 hours to summit. We camped overnight at the bottom and I managed to drive all the way, all 7 hours of it, in one stretch on Sunday. It was a tiring, but extremely satisfying weekend. Now, I’m prepared to tackle the rest of October, recharged and rejuvenated!