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Wide Awake

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” – Oscar Wilde

Hey everyone and good afternoon. I hope you’re all doing well, I’m doing great. I woke up this morning with a sense of peace after going to sleep at 5:49 am. You might be wondering why I was up so late and the answer is simple. I was dancing the night away for two reasons 1) it was my cousin’s birthday, she turned 21 🎉 and 2) I haven’t seen her in 11 years, that calls for a celebration of life and love. YOLO: you only London once and I don’t know the next time I am going to be in London so I want to live as much as I can and sometimes that means going to sleep as the sun is rising. But there are other ways to live and get a full night’s rest such as visiting Southall, walking through the Victoria & Albert museum, and going to the London Eye.

Southall, also known as the “Little India”, is a lively and diverse community in London, with a population that has strong South Asian roots. It is said that beginning in the 1950s onward, South Asian immigrants began to settle in Southall. To continue our voyage in the study of the food, society, and culture in Britain, my class took a tour through Southall. Our tour guide, Monisha Bharadwaj, is from Malaysian and is a cookery writer and Indian food and culture expert. She was a great tour guide and was very interactive with us and let us take the time to explore different stores to get a glimpse into the culture of Southall. I think my favorite feature about Southall was the fact that it was so diverse. Though Punjabis are the main ethnic sub-group in Southall, with the main religion of Sikhism, there are several others who are Hindu and Muslim, mostly from India. And there are those who are not from India but from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and East Africa. Our trip to Southall was around 10 am so there weren’t many people around but the streets were still filled with women in colorful saris, street food stands and many restaurants with the smell of South Asian cuisine, and bright fabrics and jewelry hanging in shop windows. I enjoyed the trip.

After a couple hours of walking through Southall, next on the schedule was to take a trip to the Victoria and Albert museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum is said to be the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The Museum holds many of the UK’s national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewelry, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance. It was founded in 1852 and is named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Because the visit was with my History of Design class, I did not have the time to take a full tour (I’ll be back though) instead we focused more on the Victorian section of the 19th-century galleries. During the Victorian period, in Britain, objects were ornamented with a wide range of historical and revival styles including classical, gothic, rococo, and influences from Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, and Indian design. Each revival style was unique, lively and beautiful in its own way and I just loved being able to see all the art and design.

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel in London. It is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and was open to the public in 2000. The wheel has 32 ovoidal passenger capsules that each represent one of the London Boroughs. The wheel rotates .6 mph (you can barely tell it’s moving when you look at it) so one revolution takes about 30 minutes and it doesn’t stop to take on passenger which was low-key scary when initially getting on. Looking out at London from the London eye reminded me of the time I was looking out at Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. From the Eiffel Tower, I remember feeling like it was all a dream but from the London eye, I was wide awake, living the dream.

Until next time, xoxo Joella.

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