Thursday, January 29, 2009

And there were pictures

Click. Supposedly my film was safely inside the canister. But, that didn't stop me from crossing my fingers as my lab partner and I flipped on the lights in the dark room. I hoped like crazy that I had not botched up the process. Monday was the moment of truth in my introductory photo class -- developing day. Getting my film from the film case to the developing spool in total darkness scared me a bit. But, I followed directions: 10 milliliters of developer, 10 milliliters of water and just the right amount of shaking. An hour and a half later, I was hanging negatives in the dryer. I'm not promising masterpieces, but I have pictures. I have a contact sheet (what photographers call a page of thumbnail photos), and we print the full photos next week.

A little over two weeks in London and my little flat in my little bit of London finally started to feel like home this week. I stocked my fridge on Monday between classes, hit the streets for my morning jog before class on Tuesday (past the BBC studios, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square...not too shabby), successfully rode a double-decker bus to and from my friend's flat across town and celebrated another week of classes over a drink at a pub just around the corner on Wednesday night. I am in love with London.

Classes hardly feel like school. Interesting discussion and an entirely new culture wait in each classroom. The history alone is mind-boggling. Every class, no matter the subject, offers a British history lesson. After a three-hour morning class Wednesday, my friend and I grabbed a quick sandwich for lunch and headed to our architecture the British Museum. I now know where my street's name comes from, why the British Museum does not sit at Buckingham Palace and why there are so many crooked streets in London. The three hours I spend in my political science course, "Islam and the West," feel more like one hour.

I plan to devote my Thursdays in London to getting out and exploring the city. With some random stint of luck, none of my classes meet this day of the week. Today was a day of high culture in London. I met a friend in Trafalgar Square -- a grand, yet relaxing square where anyone and everyone (from juggler to reggae musician to the after-work crowd) enjoyed the late afternoon sun. We toured the National Portrait Gallery, offering us a chance to brush up on the story of the British throne. The portraits hang in chronological order, starting with the Tudor line of monarchs. After a couple of hours we wandered upstairs to the gallery's restaurant, which boasts a crystal clear view of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the London Eye and the Thames in the setting sun. Our pricey cups of coffee were well worth the view.

We grabbed a quick dinner in Leicester Square, bustling with people and an impressive selection of Italian restaurants. We chose a noodle restaurant. Tummies happy, we crossed the Thames to Royal Festival Hall to see Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony. The music was as stunning as the sights. During the interval (not intermission), I soaked in the sites -- the lobbies do not have walls, but enormous glass window that look out over the river onto the twinkling lights of London. The city's icons, Big Ben and Westminster, glow in the darkness.

I took a double-decker back home with my flatmates. In for the night, a steaming cup of chamomile warmed the chill from today's brisk temperatures.

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