Friday, December 12, 2008

The End is in Sight...and a Holiday Farewell Party!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just realized that I have about five days before my guest Jenny-Lou Seqeuira arrives with her daughter Kristen from New Jersey to spend a few days with me. Yikkesss!!! I have Christmas shopping to do and packing and sorting...but all that only after I finish grading final exams and term papers and hand them in. I also have a few Christmas activities I'd like to cover in London before I leave for the States on December 19.

So with little time to spare, I spent most of the morning grading papers. When I became goggle eyed and couldn't absorb another word, I sat down to pack gifts for the administrative staff at NYU-London. These are gold-plated ornaments for the Christmas tree that I had bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York especially for my London support staff, who, I felt, would appreciate a small memento of the Big Apple from their New York colleague. I wrote them little Thank-you notes, packed the little parcels in tissue paper and the Met gift bags that I had also carried with me.

Then, I went back to grading and finished the lot that I had carried home last night. At 1.30pm, I set out for campus to attend the Holiday Farewell party for our sophomores who have completed their semester here in London and are returning to New York tomorrow. It was a chance for me to wish them well, hand over my gifts, take a few pictures and circulate. Not too many students turned up as most of them were shopping and packing and frantically getting ready to depart.

Hagai Segal was presented his Teacher of the Year Award. I was surprised to discover that he will be in Bombay over our winter break as he's been invited to give a series of talks on anti-terrorism in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay. We've made plans to hook up for a drink in Bombay as I will there at the same time. He has asked me for a walking tour of the city and I have promised. But given then I have four family weddings, it's possible that I was a little too rash in obliging.

Fruity mulled wine made the rounds as did mince pies. There was festive music and a table full of 'London' gifts that could be yours if you picked a number from a bin that corresponded with one on the gift itself. Crest's of London made a killing from the abundant gifts that Alice found with a London theme--I was particularly eyeing a brolly with the London Tube map emblazoned on it, but then I saw boxer shorts with the same pattern and didn't think the brolly was any good! There were teas and Bobby helmets and beefeater teddy bears and Union Jack ceramic mugs and a whole lot of other items that would make fitting souvenirs of their Study Abroad semester.

When I had circulated enough, I settled down in my office and started grading the final essays on the Future of Anglo-Indians submitted by the students who took my Sophomore Seminar. Darkness fell while I was at it and I realized, before long, that it had taken me more than two hours to finish the stack as well as organize my files for next semester.

I took the bus home and spent a while preparing web pages on my travels in Northern Ireland. Then, when my neck began to ache, I decided to fix myself some dinner--quiche and pita with an assortment of dips left over from the party yesterday with Greek yogurt with walnuts for dessert. As I ate, I watched Sliding Doors, a film set in London starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah and for the life of me, I just didn't get it. There were two parallel stories enfolding, each involving the same set of characters. It's the sort of modernist film structured in the vein of Pulp Fiction that is much too cerebral for my liking. I have never felt that Paltrow does a convincing English accent and I never understand why she is cast in these roles when there are a slew of really great English actresses who could so easily play these roles. Anyway, it felt strange to see the London that exists right outside my window depicted on screen. Most times when I watch movies about London, it is a city that is somewhere far away, way across that great big pond.

I was falling asleep by the time the movie ended and I tumbled hastily into bed because for some reason I felt drowsy. I guess this means that I am running out of nervous energy for the semester has come to an end and I am in Wind Down Mode as I start to think about returning home to Connecticut.

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