Well I’m back from London…had a good trip notwithstanding the fact that I was unwell for most part of the trip and was popping pills everyother day…
The training was largely timepass..and was extremely boring and in the least useful…but we did a bit of sightseeing around London..so was worth the while!!
What impressed me most the infrastructure especially the Underground and the public transport..what an extensive criss cross network and that too with 11 lines! Another thing that struck me was that the whole place is so dreary and dull and boring looking…most of the regular streets in Central London looked so dull that it kind of added to the gloominess..
The most enjoyable part of the trip for me was Chicago, the musical..I have never seen anything like that in my life…I’m always in awe of people who can sing, dance and act at the same time…but this was something else!! The energy that the performers managed to pack into their act was just phenomenal!!
I spent Thursday by myself and had a good time then…my day started off with a trip to the Arsenal stadium to buy A a T shirt..was thoroughly impressed by the stadium…it looked so swanky and sophisticated..then I burnt a hole in my pocket…the T shirt cost me 40 pounds and another 12 pounds to print a name and number on it!! But it was worth every penny and I had no hesitation in buying it!!
I then reached the Buckingham Palace to watch the Change of Guard…the place just caught me unawares for the crowds that were milling around the place was totally unexpected…it was extremely difficult to catch all the action and capture it on the camera..!! The palace as such was nothing out of the world…in fact I have seen pictures of the Mysore Palace and that seemed to have the look of splendour about it…something that the Buckingham Palace was lacking. The Change of Guard was nice…but the whole ceremony was so archaic and it seemed far removed from the current way of life!! But i guess it is nice in a way to retain the bits and pieces of culture that have defined a country’s identity for centuries!
I skipped the Tower of London and Madame Tussad’s as I didnt particularly feel like doing the whole touristy thing…but caught the mandatory Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament…all on foot!! I walked so much…from the Palace down to the Big Ben and then to Trafalgar Square to visit the National Art Gallery..that was something I really enjoyed, looking at paintings I’ve read about in books. It was a wonderful feeling to actually see the works of Reubens, Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse etc…lent me a sense of being a part of some truly great lives and men…I bought some prints from there for our new house..I hope someday to send my ma on a trip to Europe..if I could enjoy the art so much, I’m sure ma would truly appreciate visits to the various galleries..
The crowning moment of my trip however was at Heathrow….nothing I have experienced in my life could have prepared me for it!! I reached there a good two hours before my flight…made my way through the maze that they have in the guise of an airport and reached the Jet check in counter…I was carrying a plastic bag full of gifts and my purse as hand baggage only to be told that Heathrow was highly strict with such matters and the purse was also counted as one piece of luggage unlike our domestic flights…so I had to somehow shove my purse into my already bulging and extremely unwieldy gift bag..and in went my phone as well….I then slowly made my way to the security point and walked and walked and walked so much just to find the beginning of the queue…there were possibly a zillion people out there waiting to get cleared…it was a horrible experience…I was there nearly an hour….watching people getting intimidated by the personnel out there…all the while my BP rising….I finally made it in one piece…only to have to pass through another check…I had to remove my shoes and pass them through another machine!!! The fatigue had completely overtaken me by then and I flopped into a seat to just catch my breath…the next task was to try and find my gate…I checked a board that pointed out the direction in which Gates 1 to 55 were…1 to fricking 55!!! So that meant there were more gates than 55 someplace else!!!! Already I was overwhelmed by the fact that there were 4 terminals with another one coming up…I then chanced upon another board that said that the gates to the Delhi bound flight leaving at 9:30 pm had closed and that the Mumbai bound flight was open for boarding…
No problem except that my flight to Bombay was to leave at 9:25…another sign happily asked me to allow 20 minutes to get to Gate 17….tears started to stream down my eyes as the prospect of me missing my flight loomed large…I then ran…holding on to my huge bag that threatened to rip apart any time…tears rolling down my face…I ran like my life depended on it…like a completely mad person…reached the gate in 5 minutes….only to find that boarding had not even commenced….it was such an anti climax, but I wept in relief that I was going to leave on that Jet plane after all!!!
One thing’s for sure though..I could never live in a place like London…give me the Sahara Desert anyday!!