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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Sights of UK: Scars

Note: High resolution images of all of the following photos are available. Click on the photos to view their higher resolution images.

It's been over three months since I came back from UK.

Union Jacks
Two long rows of Union Flags leading to Buckingham Palace.

Any sane person would have been glad to be in Malaysia. The weather's much cheerful here, especially in the mornings, when the local kopitiams bath in the sweet aromas of Nasi Lemak and Chinese coffee. Everything is dirt cheap here compared to English food, whose prices' only possible explanation is shipping fees from Mars. Best of all, it is now again possible to find badminton buddies without having to resort to virtual Facebook-based matches.

Things have all returned to normal. No longer do I have to wake up at 6 in the morning to prepare my lunches. Nor do I have to lug a thick jacket around with me wherever I go, or track my expenses to the pennies (literally).

However, part of me thinks the nine months in UK was actually more extraordinary than abnormal. It was the same me who was rather reluctant to readjust back to his Malaysian routines.

Big Ben In the Distance
Westminster Clocktower, also known colloquially as the "Big Ben", seen in the distance from Trafalgar Square.

Because of him, my luggage is still not fully unpacked yet. Unzip its top and you'll be greeted with a colourful assortment of undergarments, T-shirts and jeans. It's like he's expecting an unlikely out-of-the-blue call from the UK University of Nottingham Campus "Heya! Where've you been the past three weeks? Come attend classes at University Park or we'll expel you!"

It was also him who left his UK O2 Sim Card in my spare phone. I tried talking him into giving the now-useless piece of plastic away, but he was adamant.

Houses of Parliament
Palace of Westminster, across River Thames.

And he annoyed me in classes, disturbing me by coming up with UK counterparts of brand names mentioned by lecturers. He'd go "Ryan Air" to "AirAsia", "Hovis" to "Gardenia's", "Asda" to "Giant" and "National Express" to "Transnasional". Makes concentrating in classes that much harder.

English Icons
Two of the most recognizable icons of England.

He even went as far as keeping his UK phone number AND address in his head. Mind you, UK phone numbers are 11 digits long, excluding the country code. And English postal codes make no sense to me (I could hear him objecting about this across the corner of my brain when I typed this "It's NG7 2JZ!!! It's not that tough!!!").

Marching Band
Marching band in front of Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guards.

When we're alone and get a good chat with each other, however, I feel more pity than anger towards him. He'd occasionally have flashbacks about his time in UK at random times of the day, staring into the distance and rather reluctant to participate in conversations. He tends to avoid certain songs in our playlist -- apparently they reminded him too much of our time in Nottingham. He goes oddly silent when we looked into pictures we took in UK, biting his thumb and unresponsive to my futile attempts at humour.

Tower Bridge
Tower bridge, late evening, summer 2010. This photo turned out rather good for my camera with questionable low-light capabilities.

Little did I expect the short few months in a foreign country to scar someone that deeply, perhaps permanently. There is little doubt that he is never going to be the same person again.

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