Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bit of a chinwag

Well, I though I was pretty conversant with the English language. So when I was asked to attend the ‘integrating with the UK workforce’ training programme, I assumed I wasn’t going to learn anything spectacular, and looked for ward to a good day of R & R at the companies expense.
The course, as it turned out, was an eye-opener in more ways tha one.
For example, only in India do we use the term ‘non-vegetarian’. Here you’re either a Vegetarian, Vegan, if you don’t eat meat. I mean, just because you eat meat does not make you a ‘non-vegetable-eater’.
There is no such word as ‘pre-pone’ that we so generously pepper our phone conversations and e-mails with. You either postpone a meeting or bring it forward.
I have no ‘batchmates’. We passed out from the class of ’01, sure, but unless we’re referring to cookies, there’s going to be no ‘batch’ business.
Eveteasing- again, you’ll spend all day explaining to your British Colleague what ou mean.
A jumper does not mean someone who’s contemplating ending his life by leaping from a skyscraper. It merely refers to a commonplace article of outer clothing.
A lollipop Lady, again, before the imagination runs amok is merely someone who helps school children cross the road.
Jimjams do NOT refer to that delicious jam biscuit we used to love finding in our tiffins at school. They’re just plain ol’ pajamas.
Fags are not a derogatory reference to your sexual orientation- they refer to butt kissing- erm, cigarettes, I mean.
And in the ‘cockney rhyming slang’, when you’re referred to as ‘old china’, they’re not referring to the tea set left by your grandmum. It’s the way they call you mate.
I'm now quite chuffed that eighteen pence has her two bob bit sorted!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Barcelone-Ta ta

Yes, we were in a Barcelona last weekend. Barcelonata, to be precise. Now before you go all 'ooooh', stop. Cease and Desist. For after the tale I have to tell you, you'll be going 'Awwwww' . Unless your struck dumb in Horror. Trust me- that is a very real Possibility.

The weekend started pretty much normally- Driving down to the airport Bleary-eyed and catching an early morning flight to Spain with a screming Toddler who decided he wanted to stop the plane in mid-flight to romp in the clouds. Normal.

Arrival at the hostel too didn't give any warning of the nightmare that lay in store. Centre of town in Passeig de Gracia- Just a hop skip and jump away from La Rambla and a stones throw for the gothic part of town. Nice. Especially when you planned to walk or use the public transport.

So, with a well-fed and duly freshed up Pickwick and a similarly content Baa-lamb, we set out to hit the Beach in Barceloneta, before it got too chilly to enjoy the sea.

Unfortunately we underestimated how throughly 'firang' we'd become- all that sun gave us a headache! Hence we trooped to a nearby cafe - empty at that point of time- because everyone was out basking in the sun.

As Baa lamb turned to get the coffee, while I entertained a restless Pickwick, he called out ‘grab the bag, will ya’. ‘what bag?’ I ask. ‘The bag.’ He say. ‘Our bag. The only bag we have. Haversack.’ he says making this absolutely clear.
‘erm… from where? ‘ I ask. ‘There’s no bag.’
‘eh? On the buggy! Look, will you!’ he said, a tad annoyed at my sudden lapse into obtuseness.
‘I am!’ I insist. ‘At the buggy. An empty buggy.’ I felt it was only fair that I should be as clear as he was.
He goggled. ‘but… where… there… no!’ ah. Not so clear now. But still, I grasped all. In case you, dear reader haven’t, since you don’t share the same telepathic connection with the baa-lamb, let me explain.

The bag- which I must add contained all out travel documents, passports, cards and cash- along with a smattering of Pickwick’s paraphernalia was missing. Gone. In an empty cafĂ©. Someone had swiped it. Clean as a whistle!!
After some frantic searching up and own the beach- which included some very nasty discoveries in the trash cans around the area- but no bag, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the bag was gone for good.

Then began the nightmare- first cancelling cards (this was apparently so common, they had printed leaflets informing tourists what to do if they got robbed. Credit Card Company numbers, police station numbers, embassy numbers, the works!) , then heading out to the police station- the main police station, since the local once was shut for the weekend- a pity crime doesn’t take a weekend break.
Then of course we got to know that the Indian embassy in Barcelona was an honorary one- they can only advise. Eh? Advise? What do I need an embassy for advice- I have every man on the street doing that. What I needed was help. Action. Is that such an alien concept? Apparently, it was. The only ones who could help us were seated in Madrid. Also shut for the weekend. What is this? An international conspiracy to make it easier for thieves to rob tourists? Emergency Services!- surely if it could wait til monday, it wouldn’t be an emergency, now, would it?
Having lost all hope and all faith in the system, as a last ditch effort, we headed to the airport to see if EasyJet would manage to give us a refund on the ticket- or at least get us to Madrid in one piece.
The lady at the counter took one look at the passport copies (yes, the baa-lamb, that wonderful, meticulous planner, him- had scanned our passport and visa pages and kept it secure on the mail) and said… ‘well, I’ll speak to the Immigration Authorities and I’ll let you know if you can go back’
Eh? Were we hearing right? They’re letting us travel? Letting us get out of here? Back to London? We don’t have to travel to Madrid? And wait for the Emergency Services (ha!) to wake up? Really?
There was a glimmer of hope… ten minutes later she gives us the thumbs up… that’s it... we got outta there like bats out of hell before she changed her mind. Literally raced back to the hotel room, threw together our meagre belongings and rushed back to the airport- and checked in 4 hours before the flight.
We landed in London a bit past mid-night. The immigration authorities we expecting us. No- really. They had all our details and drew up emergency papers on the spot that would hold good until we got proper documentation here. Wow. And this was for people who weren’t event their citizens. While our embassy had emergency services shut for the weekend.
For the first time in my life, I was glad I didn't work in India. Forget 'Atithi Devo Bhava' - lets learn to treat our own guys right.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Autumn. I love the word. I love it more because its one of the words my son says adorably. I love it slightly less than I used to on account of the gloomy, chilly evenings I'm experiencing, after a gloomy, rainy summer. Still, before I begin to absolutely loathe the word, here's a glimpse of why I still think it's semi- cool. The Greenhouse.

Late Afternoon at the park

last of the green leaves

A final burst of defiance by the flowers before winter decides to show them who's Daddy

Henry Moore and Nature.

Pickwick finds his Kamal... the Keechad!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hooked! Line & Sinker

After 28-odd years (yes, 28. No. I DO NOT lie. And Yes, I DO LOOK older in my photos. I'm not getting older. I'm aging gracefully) of my life on this earth, I have finally realised what I have been missing. This is quite apart from missing the bhel and the samosas and the paani puris and the Golas... *sigh* I digress. As is often the case when we talk about food.

Pause for a brief moment where I imagine the taste of the above bursting in my tongue.

Well, last night I had the pleasure of watching a Broadway musical. OK, OK- you can stop with the shocked noises. I haven't been to one despite having resided in London for six months. I will lay the blame for the same squarely on the shoulders of a certain baa-lamb who refused to shell out what he terms as 'a criminal amount of money' to watch people cavorting about in tights and singing. He claims that sort of thing looks better in the movies. So last night when BL's (Baa-lamb, dearies) colleague asked if we would like tickets to a musical, BL snorted at the suggestion of his ever being caught dead watching that kind of stuff, but graciously offered to babysit Pickwick while I indulged in my long cherished dream.
I reached well in advance (despite having climbed the 293 steps of Covent Garden Station Coz I was too impatient to wait for the lift- a decision that showed my general fitness levels in abysmal light). A little too well in advance- they were still cleaning out the steps when I arrived, I think. I generally hung around soaking in the atmosphere. Also soaked in a whole lotta second-hand cigarette smoke, directed two lost tourists very helpfully in the wrong direction, and grabbed every free leaflet available to read up on the musical and London's theater guide. Just when people were giving me funny looks as assessing if I was a serial stalker, my date showed up.
We promptly collected our ticket and got seated in the front rows (very good seats). Oh- did I mention I was there to watch Chicago? No? Doesn't matter. It could have been Posh's life on stage, and I would have still enjoyed myself. Still, love the songs, can sing along with most of them, and totally flipped for the movie, so the play was a good choice.
Needless to say the Play did not disappoint. I was a bit deflated with Kelly Osbourne's performance as 'Mama Morton' (after all, Queen Latifah, is a act to follow), I believed she sang, but the rest performed(huge difference). And what a performance it was! The only time I took my eye off stage was to grab a couple of spoonfuls of the hazelnut and fresh cream ice cream (very good. Daylight robbery prices, but Very Good.), and to briefly apologise to the poor chap whose foot I was squashing in my excitement, as I tried to tap along with the performers on stage (I would have clapped, but hands were otherwise occupied with the aforementioned ice cream).
At the end of the play, I clapped, hooted and whistled like a crazed Rajnikant fan at the first show of his movie. And I wasn't alone. More than half the audience was on their feet, showing their appreciation for the awesome spectacle that entertained us for about 2 ½ hours. The lobby as we poured out was something else- we had a lot of people singing their favourite ditties from the musical, the odd snatches of tunes being whistled, and short of throwing their arms of one another and offering to buy you a drink at the local pub, the general air of bonhomie was something else.
Although it was close to midnight, trains were running to full capacity, and I got home with my head still full of the musical and a silly grin plastered to my face.
I now know why the say the stage is an addiction. I 'm hooked. And they'll try to make me got to rehab and I'll say No. No. NO!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Size 12

Back home, I always felt, I was, um… how do I put it… a tad outsized for Indian clothes. It was never felt more than during a stroll down Linking road, where shopkeepers spotting an easy target for daylight robbery would very politely invite me to buy their stuff. Didn’t matter what it was. Skirts, shoes, tops, jeans… anything. On spotting something I liked (I’m not that hard to please, I generally like most things that are in a passable shape and as long as it isn’t ‘either-I’m-a-film-star-who-wants-to-be-noticed-or-I’ve-walked-out-of-a-balaji-soap’ loud), I would ask for it in my size. That’s when they’d finally appraise my size (all this while the lure of easy money having blinded them), half-heartedly rummage in the back and then shake their head sorrowfully and say, ‘ aapke size mein nahin milega’ Hmm… road block. Undeterred, I would ask, ‘toh phir mere size mein kya hai?’ scratching his head at this daunting challenge, he will point me to a man’s shirt/ shoe and say- ‘yeh milega.’ Gee, thanks! I feel special.
Which was the reason when I moved to this country, I though finally, shopping should be a breeze. I mean, I know I lie somewhere between size 10 and size 12 (does NOT mean I’m a size 11. it means that sometimes I fit into a size 10, and sometimes 12.) and considering that size 12 is though to be the average size for most women here, how hard can it get? I’m finally average!
So imaging my surprise the other day when I open to newspapers the other day to find a hue and cry being made about some pop start chappie using models of size 12 and above in his music video and extolling the virtue of ‘big’ girls’. Eh? Size 12 is now big? So what average? Size 8 is thin (It is. You have to be miniscule to fit into size 8), so is the new average size 10? But what if you’re size 12? Will you now walk into a store for the plus sizes? And does that make size 14 fat?? I decided to find out for myself.
So I march into a popular clothing store and demand to see the size 12 cardigans. ‘erm, sorry, but they don’t seem to be here.’ Says the helpful shop assistant. ‘no shit, sherlock!’ was what I thought, but ‘ well, could you locate some for me?’ was what I asked. After about 4 minutes of asking the shop manager and a couple of other people who seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, she informs me ‘ah! Yes. We’ve run out of those. Sorry.’ And then walks away beaming, confident that she has done well, already moving on to her next hapless victim. She, poor thing, has no idea that this has increased my conundrum. I now know that size 12 is very very average, seeing that they have run out of all things in that size. But that now means that everything I like will first get sold out in size 12, thus, I’m back to square 1. i.e. me minus clothes I like.
As for shoes… apparently, I just have large feet for a woman. I have to accept that and stop blaming the countries I live in. I am currently on the lookout for ultra-feminine men’s shoes. Anyone know where the gay men shop?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Great Scot!

you know how i love rainbows!
Sir Walter Scott Monument

Reminded me of Coccoon

One day, that's how I'll be travelling
Edinburgh castle
Hogwart's schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry :D

the Loch Ness

The highlands

supposedly the most haunted grave in all of Scotland- The site of the 'bloody MacKenzie' poltergeist
taht's, by teh way, is an actual working clock.

That's the underwater sonar in our quest for old 'nessie'

on teh rare occasion steh sun does happen to shine here, it gets awfully pretty.

That is the childrens museum. Note the 'dirty boy' pears toy...

that's a poster for the 'haunted tour' that they do in the city. It's one of the most popular tours

this one's a memoral for all the 'witches' that were persecuted in ancient times.

see that round thingy in the centre? thata's an actual cannonball from the time when the Edinburgh castle was under attack

Indian and Pakistani flags flying together at an eatery in E'burgh

A tobacconistanother one of the ineteresting little alleyways in Edinburgh

A Mannequin wearing the kilt. It's supposed to be worn with nothing underneath. Brr! That's called blowin' in the wind.


This used to be a church, Now it's just a railway booking office

what's Scotland without a bit o' whisky?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Life's little ironies:
Now That I'm working, I have something besides Pickwick to write about. But Now That I'm working, I can think of Nothing but Pickwick worth writing about.

My workplace is the one place which has so many Indians I'll never feel out of place. My work place has so many Indians, there is no place!

Lunch Hour is fun, coz you don't have to bother explaining the contents of your dabba to all and sundry. Lunch hour also means you have to bring enough in your dabba for everyone around you.

An hour for lunch is perfectly fine. An hour post 5:00 pm is also perfectly expected.

Work is challenging, it keeps me on my toes. Work is so challenging, I have to be on my toes.

Now that I'm earning, we'll spend a bit more. What we're spending on is daycare for Pickwick, which hardly leaves anything for spending at all.

Work's a great source for inspired posts. Work's the reason I don't post as often

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Free? And fair???

I live in this wonderful country where for most parts I tend to forget the colour of my skin. But then, once in a while the Prime Minister , no less tends to put me sharply back into my place. Mr. Brown want to pass a resolution wherein visa applicants (skilled category) from only non-european union countries have to pass an english proficiency test. According to the BBC, this is Mr. Brown's way of addressing his peoples concern that non-Britishers are taking up all of their jobs. Right. So let me get this straight. It's perfectly fine for a Polish guy, who doesn't speak a word of english takes up what was rightfully a 'local's job', but heaven forbid an Asian trying to do the same. Oh no. We can't have that sort of thing in here.
It's perfectly reasonable to expect anyone who comes into a country to work to be able to speak a smattering of the local language. So English language tests (apparently upto GCSC level C) are fine, but why the discrimination between european and non-european countries?
Of course, I'm not too worried even if the bill is passed. Because, ironically, Asians would have a better grasp of this language than their european counterparts anyways. Ha to you, Mr. Brown.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Swiss Cheez

Yes, the Cheez is Mast-mast. So's the cheese. It's a must. Switzreland- a land of snow, cows with cow-bells, belles, man-made engineering marvels and God-made astounding beauty. Not to forget Indians crawling out from under every rock, pebble and boulder.
Mount Pilatus. The one with the Dragons of Legends

On the way to Pliatus. Love the cow-bells.

The steepest Cogwheel train in the world- the way up to Pilatus Kulm

This One's my wallpaper when it'll start to get miserable in London

The Ice- palace at Jungfrau (with a huge Aditya-Birla Logo at the entrance). And no, Before you ask- I did not eat at the Bollywood restaurant at the Top of Europe.

Mount Titlis (don't snigger- that is teh name)- The journey by Cable Car

He He. This was right next door to Our Hotel In Lucerne

Mount Titlis (STOP it.) from Mount Pilatus

Glorious morning!

Aletsch Galcier at Jungfrau

I make a fine Snow angel!

Interlaken Ost

Picture postcard- The Interlaken-Lucerne Journey

aaj main oopar, aasman neeche...


Kleine Sheidegg-Jungfraujoch Journey

Junfrau -Top Of Europe

Minus 6 Degrees. The birds don't seem to mind.

Interlaken, in front of the river Aare

The view from the cogwheel train from Kleine Sheidegg

The train from Gindlewald to Kleine Sheidegg

The first glimpse of the Peaks of Jungfrau

The plains and Mountains on the way to Jungfrau