State of Zen, Oxford

{At Paul’s Café, Oxford, UK}

There are few moments in your life where you just feel completely at peace with yourself and your world. I wish I could bottle these minutes somehow; save them for a moment of self-doubt, return to it in a moment of panic. I’m sitting by myself at a counter that I’ve colonized at Café Paul, a few blocks away from Univ, Oxford where I’m doing a summer college program. Raspberry tart and pure melted hot chocolate to my left, I’m reading Henry Kissinger’s beautifully written “Diplomacy,” trying to retrace the silvery threads of the web of diplomats’ thoughts as their actions redrew the modern map in the 1800s.

My American friends from SMU are equally excited to explore our new European surroundings. It’s interesting to see the melding of SMU’s instilled subcultures of sororities and fraternities within the historic ground of a medieval castle. Letters unmentioned, but you can see how certain personality types – “Greek cliques” – attempt to adjust to the haunted towers of 90th High Street and the flowing alcohol at the local pubs. In the same manner that Metternich and Bismarck sought to navigate their new world, there’s a rush for different SMU cliques to mark their territory around Oxford. As a member of a sorority with many girls in attendance at this program, I’m equally guilty of marking our favorite coffee/tea table with a side-eye and branded handbag.

But the difference is that I’m used to adapting quickly to new surroundings. Call it wanderlust or expat kid syndrome, I love to travel and experience new cultures. Though my family is of Indian origin, and I greatly enjoy aspects of our loud-and-proud New Delhi-Kashmiri culture, I grew up chiefly in the San Francisco Bay Area, California as well as living in Dubai and Singapore. So in a nutshell, my thoughts and accent are a mush of the world.

Anyways, enough about me. Reading about just one person seems awfully narcissist and dull, no matter how much I may try to seduce you to the lifestyle of French macaroons and Oxford back alleys. Far away across the pond, past the preppy New Englanders, beyond the virtuous Bible Belt, you’ve got to stretch your imagination all the way to the snowy mountaintops of the Sierra Nevada range where the celebrities keep their vacation homes and skiers rush down in a blizzard of snow, ice, and casino slot machine lights. If you’ve kept up this far, you’ll find yourself in beautiful Incline Village where my partner-in-sass and roomie best friend, Kayla Goldberg lives.

You’ll see a lot of hashtags floating about the interwebs these days, but the two of us would like to advise you to a keep a watch out for our particularly dynamic one. #nikaylalyfe is more than a collaborative blog by two best friends whose friendship could make Blair and Serena’s pale. It’s about the best act of fate that ever could have come out of a randomly assigned “potluck” roommate. Together our friendship transcends all time zones, temperaments, and tangles as we take on the world one adventure at a time.

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

7 thoughts

  1. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a
    coworker who was conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact ordered me dinner because I found it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this matter here on your web site.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Nikita,

    While Peace In A Bottle manages to evade invention or discovery, I’ve found that nostalgia manages to fill a very similarly shaped gap. Dangers of romanticism aside, I rediscovered this blog post while cleaning up my bookmarks and couldn’t believe my luck. It’s been a little over a year since I joined Kat’s family on our second trip to Oxford and met some of the loveliest college students to have graced Univ in a while (obviously, you and Kyle took top spots for these honors). What are the words? What can I say? Hello from the past, I suppose! Kat and I are both in the midst of our senior year of high school, and we’ve remained fast friends. This summer, before Kat goes off to Chicago and I go off to lord-knows-where, we plan to continue our tradition of summer travels together and finding this blog seems like a sign that we’re doing the right thing. It’s seems like you’ve done wonderfully for yourself and I know that my admiration of you nearly two years back was (and will probably continue to be) a wonderfully driving force to my own international ambitions. I hope you and your loved ones are well, I hope your travels continue to be soul-fulfilling, and above all I hope you’ve continued to write.

    Goodbye and Good Luck!

    Sophie Reyes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sophie Reyes you have made my day! ❤ I can't tell how you much your wonderful post means to me! I loved getting to know you and Kat during our adventures at Oxford, and I'm so honored to make your list of fave Univ students (along with Kyle of course!) I'm thrilled to learn that my blog inspired you to travel — that's exactly what I hope my writings do 😀 Whether it's exploring the world or just checking out new places in your own city, it's the spirit of adventure that drives me…and hopefully my readers! I think it's fabulous that you're keeping with the tradition of traveling to new places – I'd love to know which lucky destination you choose for this summer! Thank you so much for your good wishes ❤ Best of luck with your senior year and I hope that your travels and adventures in college are everything you want them to be and more! xoxo Nikita


  3. Really found your blog very interesting & it leaves me to believe that the best is yet to come in your world of many many adventures across the globe.. Look forward to more bytes from Kayla & you Nikita..

    Liked by 1 person

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