Recounting Oxford And Its Magic-A Travelogue.

I had the most magnificent opportunity of attending a summer school for a course of Creative Writing at Christ Church, Oxford University this July 2016.

Now, every experienced traveler will inform you of the riches of where they have been and what they have done. What they may miss out on is the fear, the anxiety and how it clouds your head like fog on a cold winter morning.

To travel is to paint. Your canvas is blank until you pick up the paintbrush and give it some masterful strokes. One wrong move and the picturesque scene is ruined.

Well, I was enshrouded with the same fear when I took a train from Paddington Station, London to Oxford Station, Oxford. Was I on the right train? Would the British regard me warmly? Would my train ticket be the right one?

Mine was a one-way ticket and my parents held onto two two-way tickets since they would be coming back to London after seeing me off. Dear Reader, don’t doubt my stress for my parents do not come from an eloquently English speaking background. Thus, the chances of them interacting were next to zero. However, that is the beauty of it all. An eighteen-year-old girl, figuratively on her own.

Regulating the whole trip emboldened me.

We reached the station and it was freakishly deserted. On asking a very helpful and efficient receptionist (skipping the part where I drooled all over his thick British accent), we made our way to a far away part of the station that hosted taxis and buses.
I think it was destiny or the timing was just impeccable. Because we managed to catch hold of a taxi driver from Pakistan who spoke Hindi. Let’s just say that it was one interesting ride and the thought of my parents bidding me goodbye in a few minutes flew from my mind hastily and conveniently.

We reached the gorgeous Christ Church in an hour. And we stood before it, gawking, taking its beauty in. Moments of questioning your sanity come seldom but when they do, they blow your mind.

We were not formally made to try the local cosine of England but Google was a big help. Some everyday foods eaten are English muffins, scones, scrambled eggs etc.

Christ Church is not only famous for the fact that Harry Potter was shot there but also because it hosts both a college and cathedral. This is why we would always hear the ringing of bells and mellifluous songs being sung by faceless choirs in buildings athwart our dorms.

Oxford is like a beautiful, tangible and invisible scar on my arm. Even today, I trace my nerves unknowingly and the memories come rushing back. It is safe to say that its chilly breezes and beautiful architecture grew on me.

If there is one walk that you should have, that is the Bill Spectre Ghost Walk. Bill is a vivacious, senile and notorious man who hosts the ghost walk across many colleges of Oxford, explaining their ghastly history on their way.  More than intimidated by what horror his stories would induce in us, we were cracking up by his theatrics. He would trundle and suddenly walk to a nearby window and shout-“A young woman wearing black with blue eyes haunts this library!”. Or, he would engage us in mysteries of a serial killer who had walked loose on the very streets that we were walking on. Bill Spectre filled us with mirth and enthusiasm by all his dramatic antics. He is so adorable that I follow him on Twitter too!

Another activity that one should not even think of omitting is punting. It is a big deal there since Oxford University and Cambridge University have annual punting races and both use completely different techniques to do so. Punting is boating in broader boats. One uses a pole to steer the boat in very shallow waters. My group and I did it too. Alex, our student helper whimsically informed us that chances of us falling in water would be very high. Even moving the boat at first proved to be a taxing task!  As we punted through, we came to a surreal halt. The sun was retiring, the birds were singing lullabies and the water was calm. It was very peaceful and an unforgettable memory.

We also attended an hour-long Vivaldi Concert inside Sheldonian Theatre of the Radcliffe Camera, a graceful building with a humongous dome on top. The concert constituted of various musicians showing their phenomenon skills in playing many instruments.

The weather in the o.k. is unpredictable. One minute, you are basking in the sunlight and the next you are scurrying away for shelter because of pouring rain. While I was in Oxford, I conjured a quote by myself that I still stand by even today-“Oxford is a labyrinth I would not mind getting lost in.”

Oxford University comprises of 38 colleges and we were also given a tour of the same. We were a group of five very strategic females who managed to tour some of the biggest colleges like Somerville College, University College, and Worcester College.
Since I was provided with adequate space in the form of a well-furnished room to stay in, I would not know a lot about where you should stay in Oxford.  However, a brief conversation with my Course Director revealed that there are plenty of Bed & Breakfasts’ in Oxford and they are very popular with tourists.

London may be a cosmopolitan city but Oxford is its little sister who is more legendary and too beautiful to describe in words.

A jog in the University Parks near Christ Church or a scalding cup of hot chocolate from Paul’s will lift your spirits incredibly and before you know it, you don’t want to take that taxi and then train to London in order to fly back home.

Now, I am drenched with nostalgia after telling this tale.

I sketched some. I got interviewed some.

I was recently interviewed in the capacity of a teen age blogger and that is what makes me happy and hopeful for the prospects of this blog. In the said interview, I let you know in a little more detail of what I have been up to and how my blog has stemmed into something I never imagined it would become.

READ MY INTERVIEW HERE!!

Now, within me, there is a massive ubiquity of happiness and apprehension as I present to you some of the drawings that I have been doing in the gap year that I have chosen to take oh so boldly.  I was always under the erroneous impression that sketching would not be that hard.

 

img_68541Well, that was until I picked up my thoroughly run out black ball point pen and started scratching aimlessly on the paper.

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The tip of the pen or pencil is so powerful. Every stroke, every slant line, every kind of shading done is imperative to the bigger picture. Every picture demands a preciseness that may take years to master.

Now, viewer discretion-I am not Picasso so you better teach your eyes to not fall out of their sockets because all that I have drawn and showed here is not very good, it’s not even close to perfect. Also, you can indoctrinate me in the techniques of sketching better.  (You can also make fun of the sketches but hey, do it in a corner where no sound reaches you.)

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It is just my very sad and very brave attempt to tame the black ink.

 

Please read. Please comment. I want your words. I want your feelings to reach me.

Renovatio. 

Probably the lengthiest poem I have ever written! I hope you like it. Please give me your honest opinions in the comments below! 

P.S The title of the poem is in Latin and translates to rebirth. 

She was made up of words,

They all said. She was meant

To be an author, they proclaimed.

But her mother, Mrs. Smith

Cooked dreams of an early

Marriage and a crawling toddler

For her. Thus, she ran.

 

She ran, leaving a world

Behind only to step into another.

She would paint her own life,

Embellish it with colloquialism,

Flowery words and further,

In her haste, she could only

Collect what her greedy hands

Touched. A toothbrush. A

 

Satchel and not as much a

Glance to the lady who was

Constituted of belligerence and

Hostility for her shaky career.

Betty was the bird emancipated

From a wooden cage. She would

Flap her wings around a strange

 

Place. She would grasp the

Feather and let it sink into

The welcoming ink and let the

Words spill out on an otherwise

Blank page. Oh! The jolts of

The train were like droplets of

Water flicked hurriedly after a

 

Nightmare. She was in a rocking

Carriage with people carrying

The burdens of their own stories after all.

She never batted her eyelashes

At another. Her concentration

Was pinpointed on the leather

Of the ledger she had managed

 

To gather. Her dexterous fingers

Groped the skin of the new diary

And her heart beat faster by

Imagining what would go in it

And which magazines her work would

Travel to. She was the witch and

This diary was her wand. She

Would cast enchanting spells

And thrive from it all.

 

For once, she heaved and a

Bizarre fear settled in the pit

Of her stomach. She knitted

Her brows deep in worry and

Anxiety for the thought of

Starting over. But the word

‘Valiance’ quivered in her mind like

Trees from an arrogant wind

Before a storm and she felt

Bolstered again. Because, she

 

Knew that no matter how harsh

The wind howls at the tress, they

Quiver but they never crumble and fall.

“Ma, I put lipstick on and I feel so pretty!”. 

Grip the brush with the tightness
that a  warrior exhibits while holding a sword.
Dip it in a powdery box much like a king
does after a war. Except his fingers
caress the crimson Tilak and gently
graze his forehead. You are no less than
a king or a queen, for that matter. Spread
the colored powder across your skin,
with the delicateness of your mother
who watches with fascination as her
fifteen-year-old daughter lives out
her dream to look more beautiful
than she already is in her dressing
room. Now, smudge all the sprouting
blemishes that might have bloomed on
your skin, it will cover not only spots but
also your imperfections. Apply
lipstick now. Brush the tip across
your dry lips with the artistry of
an artist who has ample experience to
recreate Mona Lisa in his basement.
You are ready to face the world.
You wear a mask on the outside and
conceal yourself from within.

A lengthier poem, this one.

I have so much on my plate right now and this is why I come bearing some of the contents that are on my plate.

I have devoted myself to the empowerment of teenage girls. This is why I am going around interviewing young girls around India (virtually, of course) to document their life-changing experiences and interesting discoveries.

Check out the Facebook page and hit like-  Teen JWB

For any writing assignments, comment below or just email me-avantikainghal216@yahoo.in

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it feel like to move on?

It feels like exactly how
it sounds. You move
three steps ahead of
a force that was once holding
you back. You break
away from shackles that
were rooted around
your wrists and ankles.
You had fallen down
and now you have gotten
up-stronger and with
much more vigor. Your
mind can conjure images
of a healthy future. And
you can actually smile
without feeling the torture.
You can look
back now, it’s safe,
because what you will
see won’t be a mistake.
It will be a lesson of a
lifetime. And you will
remember his face
without fear or tear
streaks. You are not
reading these lines. You
are reading between
them because you know
exactly how it feels to
have moved on.
Yes, you have conquered
the art of moving on
and looking back with
courage and not scorn.

I am talking to you. Yes, YOU. The beautiful woman who fell head over heels over someone who does not give a damn. I want to help you move on. (I rhymed here too. Give me a cookie). If you are feeling down for any reason (related to boys), feel reassured after reading this poem because you can do so much better.

Personally, I never moved on because I have never fallen in love, (But does falling for Nutella count?). And, this was only my imitation of a sanguine woman who feels that she is strong enough to forget.

Thanks.
Good night.
I love you all.
Stay blessed.

Indelible.

Her demise shook the world
and left an uprising in its wake.
She was human but the world
obnoxiously called her a Dalit. Her
skin was marred with scars of
the most gruesome kind but
little do you know, they were
her battle scars that she took
to the grave. Her body, a
holy shrine was entered without
an invitation but you are not
aware that her soul is purer
than yours will ever be.
Her cache of memories will
be drenched with flashes of
hungry stares and lustful eyes
but also warm hugs and gentle
smiles from her parents,
something that the
scrupulous media does not want
to reflect upon. She can’t be
a secret anymore; her caste
cannot be a hindrance anymore.
She needs a powerful voice
and we must give her one.
As i recount this tale,
I am suddenly this girl. I
consume her desires. I
am her soul and spirit. And,
my fingers close in on against
each other and I take labouring
breaths. My throat feels like
huge amounts of sandpaper were
shoved into it. My eyes are watery
and blood shot and all you do is
stare. My clothes are shredded
and little rags are my only trustful
companions on my otherwise
naked body. A string of wounds
cover my arms and legs and you
whisper about how sordid a
scene this is. You mutter about
me being a victim but the truth is
I am a warrior who survived an
intrusion that was not supposed
to happen and yet, you back off
from a growing crowd and wonder
what you’ll have for dinner tonight,
leaving me there on the ground,
writhing in more than just pain and suffering.

Women empowerment is such an imperative concept and people often overlook it, thinking change will happen by itself. But no. We need to become the voice. This is a poem solely dedicated to a rape victim who was not represented sufficiently in the media because of her caste. Please read this poem and give some constructive feedback!

Have a great day!

Avantika.

 

 

 

 

The Time Oxford brought out the poet in me.

Incredibly short verses of poetry written by me while doing a short summer course of Creative Writing at Oxford University. It sounds fancy, I know. You can also catch all the highlights of my expedition on Jaipur Women Blog. The blog name will be ‘Velvet Eyes’. 

  1. Of an arm
    Coyly placed on my
    Shoulder and a smile
    Plastering his face,
    He breezed away into
    The arms of another
    After treading on my already broken heart.

2. Teardrops fell
Slowly but surely as the parents distanced
Themselves from their only offspring and
Ventured off to a world of modernisation
And Ignorance alone together.

3. The sun is my continual nemesis
And it destroys me in more ways than one.
Silent questions are raised eternally and
Will not die down until I stop concealing
Myself from my own bright demons.

4. There are pictures sketched on the
Concrete that the law abiders despise. They
Condemn them because the depth of the paint will
Never rest comfortably in their eyes, like it does in mine.

5. Shaky hands
And a sweaty forehead, a heartbeat faster
Than a bullet train’s speed is all that takes me
To saunter over to the podium and spill
Meaningful words that reach every ear, move
Every heart and propel them forward in their life.

Have a great day and don’t forget to smile, Netizens!

Avantika.

My first ever poetry slam! 

Stop.
Did you hear that?
It was the sound of your fear.
In the form of short breaths and tiny beads of sweat.
You are terrified. And you are foolish.
For you binge-watched Criminal Minds for two hours straight.
In the middle of the night.
And now, your primary fear is a fast approaching attacker.
Hidden behind the curtains or huddled up in your attic.
You contrive plans to beat him. Beat him with all your strength.
Until your fist is tainted blue from the punches
And cheeks ruddy from all the rush
But wait!.
All of this is fictional and inside your head.
For you had bolted every door before
you made it to bed.
But some woman out there screams with a
clay tongue as the ingress to her innocence is shattered by someone.
And here you are, lamenting about gender bias, confined within four walls.
I have faith in challenging.
So challenge the age-old convention of casting women as  Mary Janes with doe eyes in those horror movies and drab shows.
The fear that had blanketed you earlier should be gone by now
You should be able to get up and adorn the cape of bravery
And stand up to these loons while spewing profanities at them articulately.

Hi! Did anyone miss me? No? I figured that out by myself. So yes, I participated in my first EVER poetry slam and this was the poem I performed. Like it? Hate it? Tell me.

Read the interview I took of the organizer here-  http://jaipurwomenblog.org/post-jaipurs-first-poetry-slam-vriddhi-plans-to-have-a-comedy-night-soon/

THAT’S ME.
Bye!

Palatable. Also, collaborate with me?

There is a resplendent sight
below the blue sky. A
flower blooms from a
shy bud, scared to be
exposed to the world.
Its petals enlarge and
soon, it can be ogled
At. The succulent and
the stiff stem of the
flower painted green and seen
from afar brings a smile
to his face. But the world
burns in all types of ways
Yet, Nature never
turns its back; it beckons
him forward and envelopes
him in his arms. No guilt. No regrets.

As a writer, I am seeking more writer friends to collaborate with me on my upcoming projects. If you are interested, please drop in a message either in the comments section of this post or message me on my E-Mail-avantikasinghal216@yahoo.in

Go ahead and say Hi. I don’t bite and I don’t make people cry. I help people. I am kind, you guys. All of that rhymed.

Also, if you are simply copying my work or someone’s else work, for that matter, STOP IT. I am watching you. I really am!

Have a good day.

Lots of love,

Avantika.

 

Urgent Call for Submissions to a spectacular Literary Magazine and More!

This is an urgent call to all writers, photographers, and artists who wish to see their work published in the elite and gripping magazine called Red Fez.

Click here to submit-https://www.redfez.net/submit

I am the Fiction editor there so just ping me if you have dropped an engaging story to the magazine and I will give it special consideration. Hurry, the new issue comes out in 26 days!!

Now to the poem…It’s about a family member who currently suffers from cancer. I would love your humble wishes and genuine blessings if you could just drop some.

A craving of creamy pasta.
or the succulent juice of mango.
My deceased-self conjures
visions of this past. When I could
walk the earth without a cane, 
when I could eat whatever I wanted
or when I would go to work only
oo come back home to kiss my
wife gently. Now, I decorate the
bed, just like the other showpieces.
I acquire dust at an increasing rate
and I think I might rust. I cough out
misery and suck back more disease.
I rot away, I rot away.

No matter how morose my poem is, you don’t forget to smile and breathe in positivity from anywhere you can. ALSO, COMMENT ON MY POEMS. I need to know what you all people think. If someone actually reads my works, that is…