Having Survived two Natural Calamities

By Simran Kapur, MA in Journalism, University of Limerick

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When I initially packed up my bags for Ireland my mother was extremely worried about the possible weather conditions and kept stuffing my bag with every possible jacket she found lying around.

In the end as you all must have guessed my luggage went leaps and bounds over limit, so I had to sacrifice on a few pairs of jeans but my mum won’t budge about the sweaters, they had to go in regardless. After a few tense moments at the boarding section of the airport, my luggage a few kilos over went in without any difficulty. I’m pretty sure they understood my plight.

However when I landed in the extremely moody weather of Limerick it came as a shock to me at first, cause it was raining in September, quite an odd sight back at home. Of the humid weather and horrible traffic that I hated back home, I at least appreciated our weather being demarcated by seasons throughout the year.

However a few days into my cross-country adventure I realized I should have bought more jackets. Never had I seen the sun out, the winds blowing my head off and sudden drizzles of rain all at once. The weather here had more mood swings than I ever did.

Very soon I’d realize what I had signed up for. With winter almost round the corner we received our first code red weather warning. Now we’ve faced storms as crazy as Aila in Calcutta, but somehow everything becomes extremely scary when the term ‘code red’ is used. So after several concerned texts from my family in London and back home I prepared myself for Ophelia. It started early in the morning, ever so often jolting me awake from sleep. After finally giving on sleep altogether I, like any other student my age, put a few Snapchat updates and glued myself to the telly about the story updates. It turned out to be rather normal, with my flat mates and our frequent movie nights we forgot about the whole thing very soon. The next day updates about the lives lost, really gutted me and made me feel extremely thankful for being sheltered and protected in my student accommodation.

I managed to survive the extended winter spell and was glad for the vacations we had. Stacked up with every possible warm piece of clothing I was rather content with myself.

Very soon, news of storm Emma, ‘The beast from the East’ came knocking on our doors. I had never before seen snow, as you might have read in my previous post so for me it was rather exciting than scary. The university sent out several emails and Facebook reminders and with the store out of bread and milk it was indeed a big deal in Ireland.

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For me and my housemates it was an excuse to sneak up behind each other and throw snowballs. To waking each other up with a snowball on the face, we celebrated the festival of colours, Holi in a rather unique fashion. I made my very first snowman, took us two hours but our snowman was a monstrosity at 12 ft high, we were rather proud of that. We broke into snow fights every so often and it was indeed the best four day vacation I had.

The two biggest calamities in Ireland in decades and I was there to witness it, now that is special. My experiences in this country are getting more unique by the day.

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Smart phone blues

By Simran Kapur

We belong to a generation that avoids social contact in as many ways as possible. The biggest invention for our kind is the smart phone in our pocket. Ordering your own food, with minimum engagement is the best thing that has happened to us (I know you get me).

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Being a Journalism student, I’ve had many an assignment requiring the expertise of my phone. One rather chilly evening I slipped into my finest, I had an event to cover. My first as a freelance journalist, without any support at all. It was slightly nerve wracking but yet thrilled me beyond measure.

I made my way to the city on a rather crowded bus, delayed by the never-ending traffic. The event was a success and I learned a great deal. Chatting with the folks of Limerick I completely lost track of time and it was almost half past nine. I had heard several stories about the bus at night, I pushed those thoughts away as I quickly ran towards the bus stop, hoping to be lucky.

It took me a while to fight the wind and rain and I made it in time for the bus. I was waiting for my turn in the impatient line, where I met this beautiful woman from Mexico. She had come to Ireland to research the abundance of water here. We shared our food interests, where we stayed and even a few personal stories for the entirety of the bus journey back, without even knowing each other’s first name.

After a heart warming interaction, I got off at my destination feeling rather happy about the interviews that I took. I reached towards my pocket to retrieve my phone after the hard work that it had done that evening. It came as a wave of disappointment and then immediately turned into a tsunami of fear. My phone wasn’t where it was supposed to be, I investigated the contents of my bag next, it became certain that I had dropped my precious piece of technology in the bus.

I turned around and made an attempt to run in the direction of the bus, the rain getting stronger by the second. Halfway through, I realized my broken knee did nothing to up my speed and I chose the next best option. I waved down a complete stranger and begged him to call my phone, rather sympathetic he handed me his phone to make the call. After several failed attempts and a few moments of regret later I returned his phone and made my way back home.

As soon as I entered my kitchen I asked my friends to call my number, they went complete CIA on me and started a live track on my phone. We had one last chance, the bus was on the move and would make one last round for the night. I put on my jacket accompanied by my flat-mate made my way to the bus stop, in the hope of flagging down the same bus on round two.

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Shivering down to our bones we stood there while the others were tracking my phone back at home. We constantly kept calling in an attempt to get my precious piece of technology noticed by someone. We even used the feature on Google to ring my phone for five minutes, even if it was on silent. I know, classic mistake, leaving your phone on silent.

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Two buses crossed our paths with very little information if we’ll ever see the bus I dropped my phone on, that night. Suddenly I could no longer call my number, neither could my flat-mates track my phone. Someone had switched it off, not a good sign at all. Then just as we lost all hope, the 304A I got off that night pulled in, I couldn’t express my excitement when I recognized the driver. I waved it down like a maniac and half out of breath asked the driver if I could go look for my phone. He took the device off his pocket and said, “Yeah I got it here for you! I couldn’t receive the call so I switched it off”. I took my phone and held it with my shivering hands, I couldn’t believe it. I walked home happy, smiling like a fool and dancing, what a day!

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My first snowfall

By Simran Kapur

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They say experiences build a man’s (in my case a woman’s) personality. When it comes to my adventures in Ireland, I’ve had plenty to keep my family entertained back at home. Although, there was one experience in particular that left me mesmerized.

I come from a very humid and particularly warm part of India. Temperatures from where I come from have barely ever gone down to a single digit. So you can imagine the soaring winds and the ever surprising weather in Ireland made my teeth chatter on more than one occasion.

Walking down the street I’ve seen several women out and about looking extremely pretty in a dress or the occasional skirt. I would however never find the courage to do the same. I feel vulnerable stepping out in just a single layer of clothing, it needs me two pants and three tops to just walk up till Aldi.

One such extremely nail biting teeth chattering morning I heard a persistent knock on my door. I thought if I stayed quiet for long enough, whoever it was would go away. Student life urges you to value the little sleep that you get and I wasn’t going to step out of bed this early on a Saturday morning.

Like I’d hoped, the knocking stopped and whoever that was, left. My inner demon danced to this victory and I turned to check my phone. I was about to check how many likes my new Instagram post had, when a Whatsapp message popped up on my screen: “Wake up you idiot, it’s snowing”.

At that very moment, I instantaneously forgot how cold it was out there. Wearing only the cotton shirt and tracks that I wear to bed, I put on my slippers and nearly fell over twice while running down the stairs. I opened the main door and stepped out to the beautiful snow clad front door. Just to clarify, it wasn’t all white and thick but it was snow nonetheless. Snow that I had never before that very moment seen in my life.

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In the most stereotypical way, I put my hand forward to touch the snowflakes. They melted as soon as they touched my warm palm. I cannot describe my happiness at that very moment. To have felt and seen such a sight before my eyes was truly an experience that both mesmerized me and changed my outlook towards life. At the cost of sounding clichéd it is these little moments that one has, that builds their personality. It made me appreciate the life I had and taught me never to take it for granted.

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Tales from the student village

By Simran Kapur

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Living with seven boys, has its perks. No I most certainly am not referring to Friends with Benefits here. They aren’t the bickering kind and occasionally help me with carrying my bags home from Aldi. Plus wherever you go, you’ll always have Z+ security, walking you back safely.

We are however the chaotic kind, you’d see us all in our tiny living room trying to make dinner and occasionally breaking a few glasses in the process. On some days, you’d find us screaming our lungs out and playing absolutely meaningless games, which they won’t admit but I always win at.

In our tiny little house, we’ve had many fun-filled evenings. Singing, dancing and watching trashy films became our little tradition. However one November evening, snuggled up in our respective rooms, we were in a rush to finish our assignments. The Wifi had been down (it was our neighbour’s fault) and to top it all off, house inspection was round the corner. I was just about the edit the most crucial part of my radio podcast when this loud noise almost made me deaf and shook me off my seat.

I ran into the kitchen to see if our cooking experiments had caused the fire alarm to go off. By now the sound was unbearable, yet I didn’t find any funny business in the kitchen. I quickly grabbed my keys and phone and was about the run down the stairs, when I saw all my boys staring at the fire alarm box, puzzled. I expected them to have a more worried reaction, or the urge to run out and call for help, but they stood there transfixed. Unable to bear the noise anymore I pushed them aside and stepped out in a rush, when one of them called out to me and said, ‘Could you call someone from the reception?’

By the time I came back with a Resident Assistant, the noise had subsided. My extremely capable flatmates, figured out a way to make the noise bearable. Staring at the box, did help after all. However, before I could rejoice the fact that this would all be over soon, the alarm went off again. Forcing us to stand out in the rain, shivering.

With Campus Security on their way, we were absolutely curious why the alarm went off in the first place. Turns out, in his quest to make our house tidy and clean, the broom which my flatmate was using to clean the corridor with fell on the Fire Alarm glass causing all the ruckus. Even when we were being responsible, it nearly cost us our hearing capacity. You’ll be happy to know, we now maintain a 4ft distance from the alarm, lest it goes off again, scarred are our minds.

Warning: Do not try this at home!

 

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My First Attempt at Surviving Alone

By Simran Kapur, Grad Dip/MA in Journalism, University of Limerick

IMG-20161101-WA0002As soon as I touched down at Shannon from India, I had a weird an unnerving feeling in my stomach. This would be my home for the next one year. I will no longer be guarded by my mother’s love and sheltered in the comfort of my house. I had freedom, yet I had a hoard of other responsibilities that fell down upon me as hard as the rain that night. Scrambling with my luggage I made it to guest house, my first night in Ireland was unbelievable a few hours ago.

The next morning sharp at 11:45 am we set down for the Plassey Student Village, it wasn’t a pleasant walk with having to drag suitcases filled with special treats my mothers had packed for me, uphill. If only I could pack her up and get her along with me, one could only wish.

Walking all that distance with minimum amount of sleep to charge me up I was a miserable wreck at the reception, hoping to speed things up a notch and get to my room. All that effort and immense amount of cardio with the suitcases was all worth it the minute I stepped into my room. In years, that is if you have a sibling, I had a room to myself. I could decorate it any which way I wished to and for heaven’s sake it wasn’t pink to begin with.

Gradually my fellow roommates trickled in and by the end of the day I had a greater problem in hand than the great mathematician, Aryabhatta. I was outnumbered and by a huge deal, seven boys to one girl was not a ratio anyone would expect. Thus began my adventure.

My first day at Limerick and my first attempt at independent living, started out with pouring rain. Yet when we all sat at the common room stuffing our faces with pizzas, this beautiful sense of acceptance washed over me. I had a home away from home, and nobody could take that away from me. I had arrived.