The sister I never had

I could tell the plane had landed 10 minutes earlier than expected (according to the display). The display showed a plane from Rome landed before the one from Riga. I noticed the people coming through the international arrivals gate were speaking in Italian and therefore I knew my waiting time was about to end.
I was at Stansted airport waiting for Maris – my half-sister. The last time I saw her was at the funeral. Back then I didn’t really talk to her. Prior to that I think it’s been about 10 years since I’ve seen her. So, as you might guess, I do not know that side of the family tree that well.
She is considering blessing the academic world with her presence at a British academic establishment. Two interviews were planned for Monday, however Sunday was wide open to do some sight-seeing in London. That’s where I come in.

LondonI put together a highly sophisticated agenda for the day with fun packed activities such as:

  1. taking the circle line from Liverpool Street towards Tower Hill, then realizing that Aldgate was the final stop, then tubing back to Liverpool Street station and then another go on the circle line towards Tower Hill.
  2. Looking for whales and dolphins in the river Thames from Tower Bridge; spoiler alert – we didn’t see any.
  3. Checking out (from a very safe and financially neutral distance) all the cool places the Queen lives in, such as the London Tower, the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie, the Gherkin, Big Ben, the building I work in and the Buckingham Palace.
  4. Witty banter about all things London.
  5. Thames water taste-testing. I wanted to know if the water was salty or not but ultimately decided against touching and tasting that brownish-gray liquid in fear of contracting Ebola.
  6. Checking out a few buskers and scoring some massive highscores in the make-no-eye-contact-with-beggars or charity fundraisers game.
  7. Meeting Mr Squirrel and his birds – Swans, Coots and Moorhen – at St James’ Park.
  8. Seeing a corded phone in one of those red phone booths.
  9. Locating platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station.
  10. Enjoying an authentic British day with no lack of clouds, plenty of wind and a touch of rain.

I saw a lot of myself in Maris. It was clear that academics were the top priority for her at this time. However, as I’m nine years older and therefore nine times wiser, I cautioned her that there’s more to life. Traveling, living in foreign countries, starting a business, learning to dance or play an instrument etc – each teach valuable life skills which no university will ever come close to.

Maris, I wish you all the best. You’ve got a bright future ahead.
Ivar

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