March 9th, 2014

Maria clap

The sunshine.

Today was the hottest day that London has experienced ever since the winter came around. I knew a few days in advance, thanks to BBC Weather (always reliable and trusty), that it would hit 17 degrees today and that it would be terrifically sunny; as such, I made sure that I had tennis scheduled somewhere outdoors, even if this 'somewhere' was in London Bridge at 10 in the morning. (London Bridge is roughly in the east of Zone 1 and I live in the western part of Zone 1.)

I hit with this old man who used to be a coach. After 5 minutes of baseline rallying, I was out of breath; another 5 minutes later, I resorted to grunting in order to feel a bit less tired. It's really embarrassing how bad my fitness is. I usually get away with it when I play because most of the people that I play with aren't at a super high level, so the rally doesn't usually go over 5 shots. When I play with someone who used to coach, however, the ball simply keeps coming back and it gives me hardly any time to breathe. I'm not really complaining though; it was very good practice and he said I had nice strokes.

A couple of others joined us an hour later (apparently they were part of his usual weekend Tanner Street Park group). I hit with this girl who's hovering around mid-to-high beginner level, and the sun was in my eyes, and I could barely see the lines at the other side of the court, and half her shots were quite haywire, and I was quite happy when she decided to take a break and this other girl came on. I found out later that she's from New Zealand with Singaporean parents; she guessed from my accent that I'm Singaporean, which always saddens me. Anyway, the sun was stil in my eyes but this girl was better than the previous one and we had a pretty awesome last rally: my shots were strong and more or less well-timed, but more importantly, I won the rally when she hit a shot long. Haha, haha, ha.

I still get really annoyed at myself whenever I hit a backhand into the net, which seems to be about 45% of the time. My forehand still sucks - can't keep a consistent body rotation and waste too much time staring at the ball flying towards me instead of preparing the racquet to hit it, so always end up hitting late. When I hit with Ryan in Singapore he told me that I had a bit too much of a scooping motion...ugh. Tennis is so hard.


I went to Borough Market after tennis, not knowing that it would be a ghost town on a Sunday. After cursing my favourite garlic prawn wrap stand for being closed, I went to one of the few restaurants that was open and had a very average fish finger sandwich while talking to my parents on FaceTime. I bought a latte from the chocolate/coffee shop opposite the restaurant and decided that I wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and walk most of my journey back home.

When one is in a certain depressive mood, one fails to remember the reasons that caused one to be in this position to begin with. Undoubtedly, the cold winter had a rather significant role to play; I am convinced that depression in London is impossible if the weather were as brilliant, as bright, as warm, and as beautiful every day like it was today. I walked along the South Bank, St Paul's Cathedral a familiar and comforting landmark, among a sea of faces basking in the sunshine. I stopped to listen to a busker - a music student in London without a loan - play the saxophone: he stood in the wet mud of the Thames river bank, just under the walkway, a huge sign in front of him with a bucket in the middle, while above him passers-by threw pennies and pounds down to him, with some deliberately aiming for his bucket. 'Thank you,' he said between pieces. 'I don't know what else to say except thank you. It's because of people like you that I can keep on doing what I do.'

The beauty of this city lies not just in its sprawling historical monuments, or the places that I have read about in my favourite books, or its charming centuries-old narrow streets and transformative mews; it lies also in its ability to surprise you with small moments like stopping to listen to someone virtually naked against the curious gaze of complete strangers, pouring his heart out for the world to see, that remind you of life's endless potentiality.


I also stopped by the Bankside Gallery which I found so much more worthy of my time than Tate Modern. Some of the watercolour paintings were quite brilliant, and I could see myself buying them if I had the money. Alas.

I ended up spending two hours walking from London Bridge to Westminster. I'd planned to walk to Somerset House and get Bus 6 home, but I wanted to see the Houses of Parliament because it'd been a while since I'd last seen them. By the time I walked down Victoria Street and found a suitable bus stop, I was so tired.

I treated myself to a double scoop pralines & cream from Baskin Robbins - my childhood favourite and, coincidentally, probably my favourite ice-cream ever. After living in this flat for half a year and going past the ice-cream parlour every day on the bus, I finally patronised it - and I felt so guilty afterwards that I ditched my plan to take the bus back and walked the distance of 3 bus stops.

I am so tired now. I hope to sleep like a baby tonight; I had a very hard time falling asleep last night and was still awake at 3am. It's a testament to my love for tennis that I managed to wake up at 8 to go to the tennis courts.