London Diaries: A new Indian student on navigating the Covid maze

London Diaries: A new Indian student on navigating the Covid maze

It is August, the month when precarity hovers upon Indian students setting out to pursue studies in a foreign land. Majorly, over visa formalities, the preclusive estimation of what future shall follow, what stuff to pack, what stuff toys to leave behind, all feeding in the frisson of excitement with fear lurking in plain sight of the unknown. Adding to these sisyphean thoughts that ebb and flow with no clarity, stood a profound fear – the fear of Covid-19, mutating incessantly to fill itself in every costume of Greek alphabet (alpha, beta, gamma and so forth).

I can tell all this with some certainty since I moved to London for studies a few months ago. I stood perplexed with thoughts impregnated with a list of concerns from public to private. The days nearing my departure to London were consumed with these thoughts, barely embracing the moments with dear ones.

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The day came when I stepped in London. I can vividly recall that day. It was a premature morning, my face felt the onset of rays of sunlight, soothing breeze gushing through the hair and birds composing tunes. A shred of this moment captured me in wonderland. There were a few attendants outside the airport, and apart from the chirpings of the birds, it was too quiet. The quiet that gives you a rail of mixed feelings. My taxi arrived, I hopped in it and left for my accommodation.

Two days passed before I met one of my flatmates in the kitchen. We chatted for a while then retired to our rooms. Few days later I met the other two of my flatmates. In the coming weeks we will be meeting more often and have 2 am Maggie noodles sessions. We talk about politics, society, art, culture, and sometimes about the “bloody pandemic” – which always ends on a note of anxiety and sadness.

Despite the restrictions and the lockdown, I found a part of my family in my friends here. They are here for me; I am here for them. We support, respect and enjoy each other’s company. We take long walks along the canals, sometimes go and see the wetlands, or just sit in Lloyd Park. These are a few activities I was able to do initially. But now, after the restrictions have eased, and the lockdown has lifted, things are slowly falling into place. People are going out more than ever, tickets to theatres and live shows get SOLD OUT before you get time to even register.

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My university life is also moving forward steadily. I have made some amazing friends here. Explored the places nearby, got awestruck by the university’s gallery, tried to sneak in some food inside the library (almost got caught, phew!). Sometimes I get tired and just lie in any nearby park – mostly Russell Square. Lying on the ground, feeling the warmth of the sun and the coldness of the grass, I feel blessed.

This is how life is, sometimes it’s warm, sometimes it’s cold, often it’s both. Now I feel more at home with the sun shining on my face.

Don’t worry! Everything will fall in place eventually. Just give it some time.

by Bushra Ali Khan

Bushra is studying Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS, University of London. She is currently researching the process of waiting both as a social phenomenon that proliferates in forced migration and as an analytical perspective on neo-colonial migration processes and practices.

*This column is part of a regular iGlobal Campus Roundup series

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