Art Gallery, Proms, Blog Meet & a Tour of London

The 3-day weekend went off in a flash. It started with Anand K‘s visit to my place, followed by Anand V. When Anand V visited me in Bournemouth 5 weeks ago, I promised him a free parking space near London whenever he visited UK next time. I am glad that I was able to keep up that promise. We all went upto Central London and spent some time at Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. Realised once again that I didn’t know even a thing or two about paintings. Anand K explained lot of things to me. Nitty-gritty as it may seem, but they were quite new and trust me, it wasn’t boring and I wouldn’t mind visiting the gallery few more times. After so many years, I visited Central London, just for the heck of it.

After a cone of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce (some one asked me the secret of putting on more weight in such a short time), Anand K & I attended the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall. To be honest, I never knew what Proms is, let alone attend one. For that matter, I have never bothered to lend my ears to anything beyond Indian music. I went with an open mind and was bowled over. Again, Anand K shared his knowledge on that. Classical music was at its best. The fact that we enjoyed it despite the fact that we had to stand for the entire duration of the concert is a lil’ proof of how good it was. Returning back home shortly before midnight, only to prepare dinner after that and talk endlessly about lot of rubbish before retiring to bed at 2:30 am was good fun.

Blog meet on Sunday and I have narrated enough about that in my previous post. I am glad that it happened. After the meet, Jag took us (both Anands & myself) in his car and showed around London as only as he can. What a passion this man has got for this city. I couldn’t help admire at his down-to-earth, enthusiastic personality and we three kept talking about that on the way back home. While travelling within London, most of the time we happen to travel in the Tube and seldom have we got to see how the place looks like above the ground. Thanks to Jag, I saw more of London during those 3 hours than I have seen in the last 5 years.

A good part of Monday went on sleeping and re-watching ‘Chandramukhi’ and thus went the last long weekend before Christmas.

Blogger’s Meet in London – Update

What a joy! What a joy!! What a great feeling it was to meet so many fantastic people at one place.

Indian Blogger’s Meet in London that was attended by was attended by Anand K, Anand V, Chakra, Guru, Jag, Praveen, Neha, Radhika, Renga, Subhashree & 18-month old Sriram on Sunday, 28th July 2005 happened to be a thoroughly enjoyable moment for all of us here.

Click on the pics for a bigger image.

Indian Blogger's Meet in London

Left (Front to Rear): Radhika, Renga, Neha, Anand K (with long hair), Subhashree, Sriram.
Right (Front to Rear): Anand V, Chakra, Jag, Guru
Photo clicked by: Praveen

Indian Blogger's Meet in London

L to R: Guru, Anand K, Jag, Praveen, Renga, Chakra, Subhashree, Radhika.
Guy not showing his pretty face: Sriram
Photo clicked by: Anand V

I have met all the people barring Neha individually beforehand, but for the rest of them it was a meeting of total strangers. Yet, as a group we hit off very well right from the start and there wasn’t a bit of formal air anywhere. It was interesting to put a face & voice to the words you read almost every day. How else could the world have known what a character Praveen is and how difficult it is for Radhika to put up with him everyday. 😉

We all met at Sagar in Hammersmith (some VIPs were late, never mind) and to say the least, the food was really great! More than the food, the time we had together – talking topics of common interest, pulling each other’s legs was simply interesting. From the initial lukewarm response I got from the people, I never really thought that we would end up chatting at the restaurant for more than 3 hours. Later, we walked to nearby Ravenscourt Park and had an hour of chat. The fact that Renga, Guru & Subhashree weren’t able to find the Tube station on the way back despite being given proper directions could be put down to excitement of the event.

Since I, along with few others were late for the meet (didn’t I say that some VIPs were late?), they made me pay the bill – giving a different meaning to ‘dutch’. Well, thats a small price to pay for meeting these guys! 😉 As I type this at 2 am, I am munching a bite from the Chewda Mix that Jag got for all of us.

My special thanks to ‘Sambhar Mafia’ Kaps for introducing many UK based Indian bloggers and to many others who enquired through mail & SMS about the meet. Thank you guys for making it a day to remember.

Important: I heard that bloggers who attended the meet are consipiring to tarnish my reputation(?!) by claiming that I didn’t pick up the tab. They might even go to the extent of saying that they all contributed some £14 each. I could only wonder how they arrive at those imaginary figures, but I tell you, these guys are really good at spreading such blatant lies. In case they do, I am sure you know whom to believe.

Odd combinations

Ever wondered about the odd combination of businesses in the same premises at many places, despite having no commonality between them? For example, the STD/ISD/PCO/Xerox (Isn’t that how we refer to the photocopying machines in India?) shops in India. What has a photocopying machine got to do in a telephone booth? May be that someone had enough space in his telephone booth to accommodate a photocopier and that idea caught along. What ever.

Similar few combinations in UK that struck me odd are as below:

– Key Cutting & Shoe Repair

– Pharmacy & Photo Development/Printing

– Barber shops & Tooth pulling

(Not in the present day world. I have read somewhere that few decades ago, barbers were doubling up as dentists in England. Even now, some of the old barber shops retain those old boards/notices on tooth pulling, though they don’t do that now. Bernie used to have one such board. Many of the barber shops in UK will have the red/white stripes painted in the front. The reason behind that is to tell the people that some health related activity happens at the premises. That tradition is still being followed by many.)

– News Agents & Bus Ticket

(As buses in Europe are served by one man crew, tickets would be sold by newsagents so that drivers spend less time in the stops. I think, in Italy you can’t get a bus ticket inside the bus; you would have to get it from a news agent. This was the case when I visited Italy in 2000.)

Any more such combinations that you could think of?

Indian Blogger’s Meet in UK

Ladies & Gentlemen

Find below the details regarding Indian Blogger’s Meet at London.

Venue: Sagar Indian Restaurant
157, Kings Road
Hammersmith
London
W6 9JT

Date: Sunday, 28th August 2005

Time: 12:30 pm onwards (in time for lunch)

Tube Stations: Hammersmith
(Walk halfway down King Street and it is on the Left hand side)

Ravenscourt Park
(Reach King Street and walk towards Hammersmith, Sagar is on the right hand side)

Location: Check out the map here.

Sagar in Hammersmith – is a South Indian pure vegetarian restaurant. It is good – very informal – quite cheap (as London goes) and has decent dishes for everyone. Also, it is reasonably easy to get to from Central London. Read some reviews about the place here. (Thanks Jag, for this note!)

A big table has been booked so that we all could eat & chat. Perhaps, depending on the mood and how we get along, we can decide on whether or what to do further. Perhaps, a stroll to Ravenscourt Park, which is quite near.

Below are the people, who have assured their presence. If you know any other Indian blogger(s) in UK, please let them know about this meet. The more, the merrier!

Anand K
Anand V
Arjuna
Chakra
Guru
Jag
Praveen
Navin
Neha
Radhika
Rajesh Prabhu
Renga
Subhashree

Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday!!

P.S: We’ll go dutch! 😉

Changed Citibank

The topic of this post might be familiar to those who have been visiting this blog for a while, but the content would sure be different.

In the last few months, I think Citibank has turned a new leaf. They have moved to a different call centre in Chennai, perhaps their own and the service levels are noticeably different & more importantly good. It pleases me to get connected within seconds without being told “All our representatives are busy. However, your call is important to us”. More than that, the staff seems to be knowledgeable of the process, rather than putting you on hold every time you ask anything and consult their peer/superiors. Though it is a bit odd to hear them talk in a heavy American accent for British customers, they have given up using their pseudo names unlike before when Janakiraman would become Jim & Kuzhalvaaimozhi would become Catherine. I have cribbed a lot about them in this blog, so much so that whenever people saw anything related to Citibank, they emailed me about that with a wink. Now, when things look all right, I thought it is time to propagate that as well.

I dedicate this post to Capriciously She, who appeared to have got bored in the absence of any Citibank related posts in my blog for a while.

Doubt

Why is that most of the self-styled spiritualists or the so-called god men choose to have their names ending with “Ananda”?

Examples: Swami Sugabhodhananda, Premananda, Ranganadananda etc.

Long Service

Recently someone was felicitated in our office for completing 30 years with the company. That person was saying that he started in a position that has nothing to do with IT and in the early 80s, he jumped into ‘Electronic Data Processing’, which gradually evolved into IT. Perhaps the variety of jobs he did over the years kept him going at the same place, he reckoned.

For someone who has been in this place for less than 30 days, thirty years sounds to be a big, big time. Thinking about it, my dad has been working for the same organisation for the last 30+ years and so were my uncles & so many others of that generation. At least, my dad worked at various locations as he used to get transferred every 3 or 4 years. Though it is the same job, he had a change of place. I know some people who started at an office, worked there all their life and retired at the same place.

Can you imagine anyone among the current 20-30 year olds – especially those in IT, to remain in the same company for that long? Without going to whether it is good or bad, just think what makes it difficult for us to stick at the same place? Is it the lure of big money? Are we really searching for more challenges in our work? Are we fed up very easily? Or is it just out of peer pressure? On the other hand, is it that our previous generation were not bold enough for the ‘change’? Or were they too obsessed about life-long loyalty to the same company?

Art of Explaining

Somewhere in Dan Brown’s ‘Digital Fortress’, he mentions “In order to refresh the screen, he switched off the monitor and switched it on again” (not his exact words, but somewhat similar).

To my knowledge, I do not know of any system which would refresh if you switch off/on the monitor. This is not to say what a smarta*s I am to have found a mistake in Dan Brown. This is a good example of the trouble we all have in explaining technical things to a non-technical audience. It requires a good knack to do that.

Now I wonder how many novels I would have read which appeared neat & easy where in they explain about the workings of various different professions. May be those in their respective professions would have been thinking what a jerk the authors were. It is the same with the movies, esp. the Tamil movies involving court scenes. I heard that the lawyers normally stand in a place and argue rather than pace across the court room, knock the table with their fist and shout “Your Honourâ€? at high pitch. Perhaps, some lawyer bloggers would enlighten us on this.

Inviting Indian Bloggers in UK

Inviting Indian Bloggers in UK for the first ever(?!) Indian Bloggers Meet in London. Keep yourself free on Sunday, 28th August 2005.

Many prominent personalites have consented to grace the occasion, one of them being me. One of the big corporates have extended their support to us by sending one of its employees all the way from US to attend the blog meet. So, lets call him our Chief Guest. Watch this space for announcement on time, venue & other details.

While I have been trying to contact the known Indian bloggers in UK individually (listed in the sidebar), I would appreciate if you could pass this info to other Indian bloggers living in UK who are not listed there. I can be reached by e-mail at sam_chakra [at] yahoo [dot] com or over mobile on 07736676377, should you require any more details.

Oh yeah.. Independence Day wishes everyone!!