Friday, March 16, 2012

Tripping on The City

Why does a trip appeal to us? A change of locale, a holiday from work, time to spend with family and friends…what’s not to like? A trip is also hard work. You need to get up early to catch that sunrise. Too much eating out can play havoc with your innards. When a trip is an extended one, it is even more fun.

 I was lucky to enough to call London my home for 2 and ½ months. That was enough time for it to grow on me, but not for me to tire of it. Initially, I would step out gingerly, burrowing in my coat for warmth. I kept my eyes open, so that I could soak in the sights. From red buses, telephone boxes, names of pubs, to yellow sunrises…everything fascinated me that first week.

I only dared to walk around near my apartment, taking care to follow the straight and narrow path, lest I get lost. Once I had covered all four directions, marveled at the graffiti in Shoreditch, reached King’s Cross Tube station on foot from the Old Street one, and checked out the Bank of England, I ventured on the Tube. It was surprisingly easy to use, not as crowded as I thought, and smaller than I had imagined. Multiple lines, maps, and signs made it tough for me to lose my way.

Christmas lights winked at us on shopping destinations like Oxford Circus. We bought London Passes, and took a whirlwind tour of the city over the New Year weekend. The first day we went to Westminster, which bowled us over with its intricate carvings. By the end of our trip of course, we had church fatigue, having seen as many there as there are mandirs in any Indian city.

We then took a river cruise to our next stop, the Tower of London. After marveling at the Kohinoor and ruing its absence from India, we dashed to Tower Bridge. We had a breathtaking view of the city from there, with the various bridges- London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and Waterloo Bridge.

The next day we covered Windsor Castle, which was just like a castle should be, with a moat. A queen’s collection of dollhouses made her seem just like any other commoner.

Hampton Court Palace was nearby, so we walked in the acres of gardens there. A sudden downpour saw us rush back.

On the final day, we paid homage to Wimbledon. I’d like to come back to watch a match here. Even empty it was imposing. I could almost hear a volley or two. Strawberries and cream were out of season.

A chamber of horrors near London Bridge wasn’t very scary. Men popping out of nowhere shouting at you happens on an everyday basis back home. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre was imposing, and I would like to watch a play here, in the open air in summer, like the groundlings would have done in his time.

London’s beautiful buildings, historic shops like Harrod’s, Liberty, Fortnum and Mason’s are unique. I saw a bit of snow too while I stayed there. The tours at the museums and the art galleries gave me a greater understanding of treasures. Phantom of the Opera was a stunning musical. The 4 D film at Madame Tussaud’s was futuristic. We also did day trips to Oxford, Cambridge, and Bath, where this would have helped.

A delight for the senses, London took me to another world. One without dust, a melting pot of nationalities, cuisine, and cultures. A global city, not just a British one. “Are you alright?” was a phrase I often heard there. Before my visit I didn’t understand it fully, when I heard it in the movies. Now I do.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Celebrating Myself as a Woman

When I think of a woman, I think of creation. Whether it is the myth of Mother Nature, the reality of child bearing, or the daily task of cooking, making something from nothing is the common thread running through all her stories. Creation in the form of writing has always been precious to me. Cracking jokes is a close second.

I think a woman’s ability to reinvent herself is also unique. I have valued the way in which I have criss-crossed from studying English to MBA, and then sales to advertising to media.

A woman is also a family maker. After marriage, she serves as the link between two families. My capacity for hard work, and doing things which are new and therefore difficult for me, has gone up after marriage. Love truly is the biggest motivator. Whether being regular with the gym, or trying to learn cooking without burning myself again, love spurs me on.

It is only now that I truly feel the difference gender makes. Would I trade places with a man? No. I enjoy being feminine. It’s like starring in a play. As the audience changes, so do I. I am many women, depending on the time and place. This got me thinking, and I'm glad I came across this contest.


Friday, March 02, 2012


Fell in love with you before I met you
Through writings of authors, your hue
I knew before I traveled your roads
Whether by car, bus, foot, or under your belly
"Are you alright?" seemed familiar not just from the telly.

You blew hot sometimes, at other times cold
I'm glad I saw you in white, truth be told.
Westminster's grandeur has lasted long
Big Ben keeps chiming its tuneful song.

The Thames is your blood blue
Where I walked from Tower Bridge to Waterloo
The Tower of London's glitter and gore
Gave me a glimpse of days yore.

Our whirlwind tour then saw
Rocky Windsor castle. A draw
Of lots was won by Hampton Court Palace
Which had gardens that were full of grace.

Imaginary volleys at Wimbledon
Ghostly figures at Globe's kingdom
Leisurely strolls through Trafalgar Square
Led to Buckingham Palace, the Queen's lair.

The other way led to Piccadilly Circus
Which refers, methinks, to a roundabout, bas.
Where we met the Phantom of the Opera
Nearby, Fortnum & Mason- a culinary Shangri la

Oxford Circus on Boxing Day and otherwise
Our happy hunting grounds, shopper's paradise
A little ahead, Harrod's, marvellous opulence
We liked Liberty more, understated elegance.

Cirque de Soleil acrobatics at the Royal Albert Hall
Museums galore, science, natural history, you have them all.
Obliging signs took care of me, so I needed not
To scatter crumbs, which was Hansel & Gretel's lot.

Hot chocolate kept the chill at bay, as did a warm coat
Not to mention woolies, my trusty cap, a brolly in my tote.
A trip to Sheffield introduced the Yorkshire countryside
And one to Bath the delights of 10,000 years old water besides.

Oxford's quaintness, Cambridge's newness, a river runs there too
Being punted along, snuggling under blankets blue
Expansion of the mind, with all the tours I took
Of art galleries, from the Tate to National Gallery stuck.

Memories as photos and the additional kilo I've gained
Are all now that have remained.