Monday, April 28, 2008

Me in the Empire Where the Sun Never Sets...

...unfortunately though, it gets dark by 4:00 PM here :-)

Flashback Part I -> Here Please!
Flashback Part II -> Here Please!

Part III

And then I was in. Oh how I felt at that time! The house had been remodelled to depict the house the same way as it was described by Arthur Conan Doyle. I was transported to the Victorian Era. I was walking up the stairs walked by the King of Bohemia, by the thumb-less engineer, by Miss Violet Hunter, by Dr. Watson the trusted aide of Holmes and by Holmes himself. The house looked like how Doyle had described it in the book - the breakfast table, the fireplace, Holmes' study, his chemistry equipment and the gift from the Queen herself. I was a child whose dream had come true. I clicked everything, well almost everything. (But I think I missed Holmes' violin. I don't remember seeing it :-( :-()
Living Room with fireplace - Holmes' violin caught quite inadvertently by my camera!
The first floor was Holmes' quarters and the second floor was Dr. Watson's quarters. (I also missed seeing the land lady's quarters because it was already late and the museum was closing down! I had to be satisfied with seeing Holmes' and Watson's quarters.) I was there till one is allowed to be there. I did not want to leave that place. 45 mins in there was not enough for me at all. I was the last one to come out. The sign on the exit door already read 'closed' :-) :-). Satisfied and happy but with a heavy heart, I took one last look at the place of my imaginations and walked back towards the Baker Street Tube Station.
221 B Baker Street
I caught the next train to Kings Cross Station. (Thankfully no goof-ups this time :-) :-)). Enquired with a police woman there the way to platform 9 and platform 10 . She did give me a weird look before saying 'it's in the main line ma'am, so u need to climb up to the station upstairs!' (Thankfully I didn't ask her the way to platform 9 ¾. She must have really thought I've gone nuts! :-)). She was all the more surprised when I asked her which train to board to go back to Oxford Street (remember I was to meet my colleagues in 2 hours? And I still had about 30 mins to make up to the appointment). She actually thought I was trying to go to platform 9 to board train to go to Oxford street. I assured her it's not so and this enquiry was for 'some time later'. Am not sure if she understood, but she did seem satisfied and left me to attend to someone else. (perhaps with a similar query?? ;-) ;-)) Then on I marched towards Kings Cross Railway Station – platform 9 and platform 10 so that I can know where exactly is platform 9 ¾. After all as a 'Muggle', I would not be able to see the platform, but atleast I can know where the platform should lie. What if am lucky enough to see a witch or 2 disappear through the walls to take the train to Hogwarts! ;-)
Kings Cross Main Line Station
I reached the platforms 9 and 10. (Frankly speaking the Kings Cross Station was in so many ways similar to Chennai Central Station). And surprise of surprises, I saw a board which read 'Platform 9 ¾' on a wall between the platforms! Well, looks like the world is full of nuts like me! :-):-) The police woman would not have taken me to a nut after all had I asked her about 9 ¾. I took a snap of the board and then saw a few others too taking fotos! :-) :-) Good for me! I would not be the odd person out there.
Platform 9 3-quarters in Kings Cross Station
Well, I've come to the end of my story of how my mission was accomplished in London, the land of the Queen who ruled us for more than a century. I came back to the Kings Cross Tube station (crossed the police woman who had directed me earlier, perhaps she was surprised how I came back so fast but she didn't show it out anyway! :-)), took the next train to Oxford Street, met with my colleagues who had finished their shopping by then, came back to the hotel and started preparing for the meeting next day, which was expected to be longer than this day!

But it's ok no regrets. Coz my Mission Accomplished! I would not lament even if I have to work 24 X 7 for the next few days! I would love to give it back to the company anyway.

... concluded.

Note: The date in the pictures above is wrong. I had forgotten to set the date in my digicam and hence some default previous date has been set. Realised my grave mistake only after uploading the pics to PC :-(

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Me in the Empire Where the Sun Never Sets...

...unfortunately though, it gets dark by 4:00 PM here :-)

Flashback Part I -> Here Please!

Part II:

And then, at last I landed in my place of dreams – yes, the one and only London. Heathrow airport welcomed me with a chill wind and I realized how just 8 degrees can be chillingly cold! Thanks to a friend I had a cab awaiting my arrival. So 2 hours after landing in the airport I was in the Hilton Metropolitan London Hotel, in the cozy bed sleeping and dreaming about getting a full day off on Sunday so that I can visit every place in my list (My list had grown to an unreasonable length by now. To visit all the places in my list even the 10 full days of my official stay in London would not have been enough, but I was not bothered, I kept updating the list anyway! :-) :-))
View from the 10th Floor of Hilton London Metropole
The next day – Saturday, started well, with a quiet breakfast alone in the Hilton Restaurant. I decided to take a small walk around the hotel to enjoy in solitaire as it is. I imbibed whole of the London winter and the British climate within me as I walked past the shops and hospitals. London is beautiful at 9:00 AM in the morning. The chilling wind was still blowing but thanks to the leather jacket I enjoyed every bit of the walk, every bit of the English climate.
Buckingham Palace
When I came to office, my business was waiting for me. I was supposed to have a meeting with colleagues whole of the next day – Sunday and almost the whole of that day – Saturday (Wow! That was great news! I saw my list being burnt and my plans and dreams going up in flames and my heart broke into a thousand pieces!!). But then luck was on my side and we finished off the meeting earlier than expected! (To say I was overjoyed and exultant would be an understatement!! :-) :-))
Big Ben
So off we went, the 3 of us – 2 of my Korean colleagues and myself. Me as usual carrying my digicam planning to click every small thing of this big city. We first went to the usual places Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, British Parliament and London Eye! I clicked every popular and unpopular building that I saw. Wow! London is beautiful at 3:00 PM in the afternoon. And then we went to the shopping street –Oxford Street, a la T.Nagar Usman Road! It was already dark by then and I was losing my patience because the first place to visit in my list had been '221b Baker Street' and the second place was Platform 9 ¾ Kings Cross Station (sounds weird right? Not being satisfied by watching the Palace and the Parliament and wanting to visit 2 not-so-popular-places! But then these 2 were the real reason why I was excited about coming to London, I would have missed the Palace and Parliament but not Baker street and Kings Cross Station!! :-) :-)) and my colleagues seemed least interested in either of them and I was least interested in shopping with them.
So there we split, deciding to meet in the same place in 2 hours. They went off to shop and I made my way to Baker Street. Alone in the London Jungle armed with only a Tube Map (The underground railways in London is called Tube) and a London City Map, I decided to pay a visit to Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective of all times who had made 221b Baker Street his home for more than a century. After a couple of goof-ups – I took the train in the opposite direction from Oxford Street and then had to alight at the next station and again take the right one; even after coming to Baker Street, I missed 221b, would have almost walked till 300 Baker Street perhaps, but then one good hearted Samaritan, showed me the way to the coveted Holmes' residence!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Me in the Empire Where the Sun Never Sets...

...unfortunately though, it gets dark by 4:00 PM here :-)

Statutory Warning: This is one of my long write-ups, about my trip to London. I had been to London between 6th and 15th of December 2007 and I had written this at that time. Since it is too long, I am posting it in parts (taking in the suggestion of many of my previour post-readers!)

Mission accomplished

Well! Yes, mission accomplished. The reason why I came to this great city has been satisfied. Agreed that I had come here for an official meeting and that conference is yet to start and it's been only 36 hours since I stepped into this city, but still I would say that I am personally satisfied with coming to this city. I had heard and read so many things about this great city that the minute I came to know that I am to make an official visit here, I was overjoyed and made elaborate plans. My trip was supposed to be for just 10 days and I thought that I would get perhaps one day for seeing places (How wrong I was! Come to think of it, I don't think I would even get a full day for myself, the meeting schedule says so!) But still I made a long list from the books I have read, from my friends who have already been here! The list only grew longer as the day to leave to here approached and I was only increasingly apprehensive if I would be able to see even 1 % of the places in my list.

The D-Day arrived and I left on an early morning of gloomy Friday from Bangalore and stepped into the Boeing that'll take me to the place of my dreams! The first stop over was Bombay. And how different Bombay was! The international terminal was very posh and of international standards, I stood there gaping at the walls, the marble floors and chairs in the lounge (Esp after seeing the Bangalore InternationalAirport, Bombay Chatrapati Shivaji International Terminal was a beauty!) Still trying to come to terms with my first surprise and having made all the last minute phone calls to my sweetheart (read: my mom!!) and my friends, I sat in the Boeing that will land me in a place which I have always wanted to see, the roads of which I have walked about a zillion times in my imaginations virtually through books and whose places I have seen in my mind's eye! With expectations and apprehensions in my mind about how this trip will turn out to be both personally and professionally (professionally this was an important trip because I had to discuss so many important issues with my counterparts of other countries and companies; anyway, forget the intricacies of a drab professional life!), I waited with bated breath to be grounded after about 10 hrs of flying!

(I would skip my experience in the flight with an old Sardar who was incessantly talking to me that at one point I had to tell him that am sleeping and close my eyes, just for the heck of it!!)

With the announcement that we will be landing shortly in one of the busiest airports in the world, my anxiety reached a new high – 'The temperature outside is 8 degree Celsius and the local time is 6:15 PM. We regret the delay caused and we would be really happy to serve you again!' 'Well, cool it Captain, I have been waiting to see this place for quite some time and so I would forgive you for the 15 min delay in landing!' :-) :-). I was looking through the window for the first sight of city. How beautiful it looked with lights illuminating the numerous tall buildings and long highways! It was a sight to behold! The lower end digital camera that I had would never have captured the beauty that I saw. So I had to be satisfied with capturing it with my eyes! London is beautiful at 6:15 PM in the evening.