Wednesday, May 09, 2007


This is written purely based upon my personal experience. It is not meant to hurt anyone

Friday Night:

My sister, Suji from Salem came to Chennai along with my BIL. No no… Not for my send off. She had her interview. Only that both coincided! Really, I am not kidding. It’s true. She is worried for anything and everything on the world. She once said, “I am scared. I am not sure if my friends will like my dress”. Oh no. What is this? Yeah but this is how it works for her. And tomorrow is her interview. So, you wanna me comment on her?

I tried to eat my mobile balance. Called almost most of my friends who are not aware of my trip and who don’t access internet often. I kept getting more calls and messages from everyone that night. Having the fact that I have to start from my home at 6 AM the next day, I turned my mobile into silence mode. I slept immediately after a tiring shopping day.

Saturday Morning:

I have an alarm installed in my body. No not joking. My alarms usually never wake me up. I get up exactly 5 or 10 minutes before the alarm is set and switch it off. Most of the times, I wake up before my alarm disturbs me, expect for few exceptional cases. 5 in the morning is the time, set on my mobile to play a song from Manmadan, my alarm. As again, I woke at 4:50 in the morning to check the time and to put my alarm off. When I took my mobile to switch off the alarm, wiping my eyes, I saw 12 missed calls. Yes missed calls. Missed calls these days, got a different meaning. A missed call is a call made and you miss it by mistake. It’s not the one given intentionally to alarm you! I’ve seen people saying, “Hey, give me a missed call when you come to lobby. I will come in 2 minutes.” Man, listen this is not a missed call. But at 4:50 in the morning, what I checked was real missed calls.

“Was that from my friends?” All the calls are from the same number and an unknown number. Some one has terribly tried for me. I called back.

“Sir, I kept calling you for so many times”


“Where is your house? I am searching it for past 30 minutes and I am frustrated”

Oops..., it’s the cab driver who is supposed to take me to the airport.

“I lost my way, I am somewhere near thiruverkadu”

“Sir, sorry, my mobile was in silent mode. I am extremely sorry.” – Me.

“Sir” – He dragged

“Yeah, I will let my dad, guide you”

Rest, my dad and the cab driver spoke and finally he reached home.


Me, along with my parents, Suji and her hubby reached airport at 6:30 in the morning. My other sister Anu also reached airport with her husband. No no… Believe me this is for my send off. We were discussing everything other than my trip. Suji was very astute, reminding that she had an interview. She had an interview at 9:00 in the morning. And we everyone know that she will be selected.

Check in:

I stepped into the airport signing off my parents and my sisters. Once I got in, I wanted to give them an emotional bye. I turned back to pass a bye through gestures. But they were more emotional. No one was there. They left immediately I got in. The interview!

British Airways is more than my principal. They are strict than anyone on this globe. The check-in baggage should not weigh more than 23kg and the cabin baggage not more than 5kg. More over, they check the dimension of the cabin baggage. Should the cabin baggage fail to get into their standard box, you got to change the dimension. Yeah you got to remove things from the baggage.

But I took Emirates. In any case you cannot carry a cabin baggage and a lap top separately. You are allowed only for one cabin baggage. And laptop is considered as a separate baggage. So my laptop is moved into the cabin baggage along with my documents and dress for a couple of days. Sometimes, we get the check-in baggage after a week. And to survive for that week, my dress had to move into both. Emirates allow 30kg in check-in and the cabin baggage is neither weighed nor measured for its dimension. But again laptop should get its place in cabin baggage. Anyways thanks Emirates.


My dad checked the approximate weight of my check in baggage manually in my home and said it may weigh more than 50 kg. Cool. I removed most of them which I felt, I wont use. But then, I am sure, I have not removed 20kg from my baggage. I measured once. I felt that it should not weigh more than 30 kg. I’ve once paid fine in Pune when I came back Chennai.


At check in, I was eagerly waiting from him to know how much should I pay for my extra luggage.

He gave me a boarding pass and said “Next”.

What? Am I relaxed? Just to know the weight, I asked him “How much did my check-in weighed?”

“26. Next”

Happy, I moved for the next person to check his baggage in.

I checked my boarding pass. I had two with me. One boarding pass for Chennai to Dubai and the other one from Dubai to London.

I moved with those passes and my cabin to the customs.

I said them, “I’ve got a laptop...” He didn’t allow me to tell that I have a letter from my office and will definitely show it to him.

“No issues, you can carry, Next”

“But, I’ve brought this laptop from my office. And should I not declare it here?”

“Not required, next”

Happy, for the second time. I left the place.

Waiting for Nothing:

With all set, and waiting for nothing, I surfed at my mobile. I saw a message from someone. Who is that? I checked. It was from rediffbol. It simply said “Happy Journey Kirry - Maddy”. Maddy, aka Madhavi is my team mate in my first Infy project. I was moved to see this. I got another message immediately after the first one. Again from rediffbol. It said, “If you want to get messages from Madhavi, you have to reply to this message”. I know I didn’t have enough balance. But still I tried and it failed.

I continued surfing my mobile and started calling them as well. Dialed Catherine, my school mate. The ring was on the way…


Catherine, one of the girls in my school I’ve ever been closed to. We were in the same class for 5 years, from my standard six till ten, after which I shifted to another school. Approximately after ten years, we again had an opportunity to meet each other. I had her land line number. Thanks to the fancy number. I dialed her. We had lots to speak and we did. She then invited me to her home for Christmas. Was exited to see her and her parents, I went home with a gift. We had a lot to discuss about my job and hers. She was also engaged by then. I and one of my friends went to her marriage as well.


“Hello… How are you?” said she.

“Yeah, Very fine. How are you?” – Me.

“Fine… Busy? No contacts for a very long time”

Arrey!, I got to say that”

“Yeah I’ve got good news”

“Me too”

“I am a mother of a baby boy”

My God! She was a kid few years back. But then I realized that the earth has revolved and rotated many times in between. “Hey Great”

We discussed lots and lots. I love talking about the past. I never know that we spoke for more than 30 minutes. It looked like only 3 minutes.

“And you said you have something”

“Yeah, I am traveling London in a few minutes from now”. I know it was not as great as her news.

Chennai to Dubai:

Air hostess, cannot be spared. But I am not Sidney Sheldon to describe them too. This is just a try. And it turns to be your responsibility to raise my description exponentially to multiple of powers. Their skin was whiter than white, smile, killing you and voice sweeter than me, oh sorry sweeter than honey. They are cool, no they are hot oh no I don’t know. Forgive me Sheldon, I lost. No regrets.

No window seat in the flight. A guy took a window seat. He was a Telugu guy. Nice that, I got a company to talk with. But bad that, I got a bad company! He started with

“Can you give me your mobile”, he smiled. “Local call only”

I didn’t mind lending, after all the balance will not help me any after. “Yeah sure”

Flight took off.

I was in an assumption that I will have a very good talk till Dubai.

“Hi, I am Kiran” – Me


I turned to my left. Shocked! He was dead. Is he? No, sorry he had slept. So I started convincing myself that I have to pass the whole of 4 hours watching through the windows. And in no time, he shut the windows. Man, what’s happening. Should I sit dumb? I switched on the TV. Cool. It was an Arabic movie. Other channels played some other language. Yeah the previous channel was in Arabic only. What? You wanna know how I knew its Arabic? Did I not tell you people that I know Arabic? Ok, I will stop this… The channel was named ‘Arabic Movies’. But remember I know Hindi.

Reaching Dubai:

I badly wanted to watch through the windows how Dubai looks from far away. I managed to open the windows no matter what he thinks. Once I opened, he started looking through the windows. God! Why the heck, did he wanted to close the windows if he wants to have a look outside? Only because, I thought I should see?

As we kept reaching, I saw a very small cylindrical object, colored in blue. I didn’t have any idea what it could be.

“Looks awesome” – he

God”, I thought. “Yeah good” – Me

Where did this brain go before? Didn’t work? Or was shut down? Fine, I decided to have a look on Dubai. As we kept reaching Dubai, that cylindrical object grew bigger. The blue cylinder eventually became the airport. And when the flight landed, I was waiting for Irene. Yes Irene. Did I not tell who she is? Fine, let me introduce her. She was the first air hostess whom I saw in the flight and whom I tried to describe and failed. And I badly want to see her again before I get down from the flight. But how can I, if she is missing? Nevertheless, I know, I will find some one better than her in Dubai airport. Convinced, I started to come out with my cabin baggage.

“Kiran”, some one called me.

I turned back, and now, you have to believe this. It was Irene. For a second, I wanted to dance like Mr. Bean. I turned restless, and I wanted to take a photo with her. But again, what am I going to do with a photo. So I got her email id alone. Avane thaan naan. You want to know how she knows my name. Lots are censored. Thanks to my neighbor for sleeping.

“Bye, see you again”, she said, winking her eyes.

“Again? Where from?”, I thought, but said “Bye, see you soon”. I know I have her email id.

Dubai Airport:

Believe me; one can simply go Dubai, only for watching the airport. My neighbor who accompanied me had to travel to Zurich. “Thanks God! You saved me”, I thought. And as I got the boarding pass for Dubai to UK also in Chennai, my only milestone now, is to find the gate where I have to wait for my next flight. Of course, the boarding pass, clearly said the directions to be followed. I have to follow the signs ‘Connecting flights’. But there were so many places indicating it. We both started walking towards the first counter marked, ‘Connecting Flights’.

Person in the counter said “Counter closed, Next counter”.

We then moved to next counter. Got the same response, but with some poor English. We started towards every counter, and we just followed the people walking in front of us, with the similar boarding pass. Cool, it reminded my college unit tests.


I usually follow the person whose roll number is one prior to mine. I never know in which room, I have to write my exam. Yeah, why should one bother about the room number, when he is not aware of what subject he is gonna write?


Then finally we saw one counter, crowded, passing their cabin luggage for screening. Crap! I can’t understand how the contents in the baggage can be changed in the flight, after all the baggage is screened once in Chennai. Fine, rules are rules. Standards are Standards. I added to the length of the queue. I managed to stand behind my neighbor. Yeah, trials go first. And this is not the only reason. If I stand behind him, a young cute looking girl will stand beside me, in the other queue. After all I walked in the same pace, rhythm as her from the time I left the air hostess. More than fifteen times, we exchanged looks till now.

This screening is more difficult. I saw people in front of me, removing their watch, spectacles, mobile, wallet with coins etc. I felt, that they are tracing for all the possible metallic objects. One guy also removed his shoes. Yeah those officers insisted him to remove them and put into a tray. I started checking my belongings. Spectacles, my watch, my shoes, of course it had lace loops made of metal. List ready and so I am! I let my neighbor go first. He was asked to remove his belt also. I smiled, oh yeah I have to remove my belt as well. Belt was now added to the list.

I started removing my spectacles, watch, mobile, shoes. Next is my belt. Man, I am wearing a jean. And it has buttons in metal. Should I remove my jean? Oh no. For a second, I thought why did I maintain my pace with her? Modern arts ran through my face, changing the dimensions of my face. And in no time, me and she, exchanged looks million times. But now, how did she know what I am thinking. I don’t know why she is looking me so many times, but only thing that ran in my mind is me running with my jean in my hand, a wrong place. Then I realized that there are so many people who already went with jean and that too wearing them. I walked through the screening window. Nothing beeped. Yeah nothing beeped, even with my belt. Its simple, it doesn’t beeps for metals, it does for something else. I am safe and free now. With a best possible facial expression, I turned towards her. Then what? As usual, she was missing.

With my shoes back on, I walked deep into the airport. I found some Sheiks under the board ‘May I help you?’ Two men and a lady were standing to help. I went to the man asking for the directions. Urdu was ruling that area. Computers had Urdu. No not in monitor, I am talking about the keyboard. They were typing in Urdu. Fine, least bothered, I produced my boarding pass asking for the gate number. Believe me, he wrote '9', and then '1' in front of that '9', and it is '19'. I read it as '19', but I on the lighter side, I thought that in Urdu, people read and write from right to left. And this person wrote '9' and then added '1' on the left, I got confused.

I asked him “19 is it?”

He gave me a sarcastic look, as if I’ve never been to school, “Yes”

I walked towards gate 19. I have to walk more than a kilometer. So big was the airport and marvelous!

Got to spend 1:50 hours:

I took my seat in front of gate '19', with cabin baggage down and my coat on the seat on to the left. I adjusted my Infy watch with local time. Approximately 2 hours to go. I started guessing what would be going on in India. Suji would have taken the interview. I am sure that she would clear it at ease, but still I want to imagine what would happen if she has not cleared the interview. Yeah, she would be doing three things. First: crying. Second: more crying. And third: even more crying. And my BIL will be laughing at her silly behavior. This has been happening right from her marriage. This is the only means by which my sister stops sobbing. And he has done it perfectly. Made for each other!

“Excuse me”, I heard a female voice. I turned to my left to see a lady with a kid. “Can you please take your coat off?”

“Yeah please.” – Me.

She took the seat with her kid.

“Heathrow?” – She.

“Yeah and you too?” – Me

“Hmmm. Actually we are three” – She.

This doesn’t answer my question”, I thought. Oh she thought I asked ‘you two’. Fine, she wants to say that she accompanied by someone else also. That’s why three, “got it”. “Oh ok”, I said.

She smiled.

“Who else is accompanying you?” – Me

“No. No one. Me and my kid alone” – She

God! Am I sitting with someone who lost her nuts?” I whispered. “You said three”, I asked her.

“Oh yeah” – She

For a second, I thought I should leave the place. I sat silent.

“This kid is the third one” – She

She looked young and three kids by now”, I thought. “Oh ok, Fine, so where are the other two kids”, I questioned her again.

“No I have only one kid” – She

I stood, decided to leave the place.

“I am going to meet my husband in London”, she said.

Finally I got through; she wants to say that their family size is three. But I never asked this question to her. I sat silent without asking any questions further.

“So you are also taking EK003 flight?” – She

I only know I am taking Gate 91, sorry 19. I took my ticket to check the flight name. “Yeah EK003” – Me

“You are working for software?” – She

“Yeah” I decided no more questions from me, but then I have more than 90 minutes left. I calculated something fast, her husband should be a software engineer, and she has come to her home for her delivery and she is returning back to her husband. Wow, I cracked. “Your husband is also a software engineer?” I asked her.

“No” – She

Well calculated”, I thought. I kept silent.

“I am a Doctor” – She.

“Oh cool”

“So your name is Kiran?” - She

I was expecting this from her for a very long time. And now she asked it. And she got my name right. But this was not a big deal. I’ve written my name on a label stuck in my cabin baggage. So I offered her zero points. “Yeah” I said with an artificially designed exclamation on my face. “But how do you know?” my next question. It’s because I had more than 80 minutes left.

“I saw the label stuck in your baggage”, she smiled.

Great!”, I smiled.

“You know what?” - She

When will the girls change? How do I know?” my mind asked this to me. “What?” my lips asked this to her with a fake smile.

“My name is also Kiran” – She.

“Oh is it? Great” I replied her as if I don’t know her name. I saw it on her baggage long back.

“Kiran is a female’s name” – She

It started again. I am tired of this. But I love my name. “Is it? But I believe it means the Rays of the Sun. And Sun is depicted as male, then it got to be male right”, I was very intelligent.

Lekin, kiran aa rahi hai and not kiran raha hai”, she said with a winning smile.

Something struck me. She is talking Hindi, and got an Indian name. “Are you from …”, she didn’t allow me to complete.

“Are you from India?” – She.

You too?” No. Not ‘too’ this time. “Are you also from India?” – Me.

“No, I am from Pakistan” – She.

We had loads and loads of discussion later, including AR Rehman, SRK, Hindi movies, cricket, India’s and Pakistan’s early exit from WC etc. She appeared sweeter now.

She mixed Hindi and English in her speech. For the ever first time, I said “I don’t know Hindi”.

“What’s your sun sign?” – She

“Gemini” – me proudly.

“Yak!” – She. Only that she didn’t vomit. But her face changed a lot after knowing this.

Till then I was thinking Gemini is something I can be proud of.

“So you have twin personalities” – She

“Yeah” – I hid the pride on my face now.

“So everyone should be careful when dealing with you” – She

“Why? I am happy to be so” – Me

“How can one believe someone who acts two different ways” – She

Oh, it means so much?” I thought. “No it’s not like that, it means Gemini people can excel in both the extreme conditions and can survive on any…”, I said while watching someone walking there. She resembled Irene. I had a knot in my throat. Words failed to come out. I bounced out of happiness. I moved to my right, but she was not Irene. Back now, I was sure she might have not understood. After all I didn’t understand what I said.

“Hmmm. Ok. Understood” – She

Oh, is it? Ok then”, I thought.

“Got married?” – She.

“How do I look?” – Me.


“Yeah that’s correct”

“Girl Friends?”


Smile was her reply.

“No girl friends” – Me

“You plan to marry one who your parents decide” – She


“Good for you, better for that girl”

“And you?”

“Love marriage”

“Oh, fine”

“I am very adamant. One man is not enough for me”

WHAT???” I stood back.

“My husband tried to convince me for his love for months together. Many friends of my hubby spoke to me about him and I finally accepted his love”

Oh you meant this”. “Oh is it?”

I looked into my watch. Less than 20 minutes left. We started towards the flight.

“I know, Indians are intelligent” – She.

“Hey what made you tell this?” – Me.

“Yeah, I have seen many Indians, who talk smart, act cool”

“Is it?”

“Yeah you are one”

A knew it was a blatant lie.

Boarding in:

“So your seat is K28?” – She

I know that she should have peeped into my ticket when I took to check the name of the flight. But still “Yeah how do you know?” was my question.

“You told me this before”

“Me? I don’t remember”

“You did” – She

Enough, now tell me that you looked into my ticket”. “Hey no I didn’t, tell me how do you know?”

“I looked into your ticket, when you checked for the flight number” – She

Dubai to Heathrow:

Window seat, this time! This is a Boeing 777. Very huge flight!

J28 was empty. Someone has to come. Guy or a Girl was the question. Yeah again, it was a girl who sat next to me. But she was restless looking at all the directions. I started preparing script for her. By then, she started talking to a guy in K27. In no time, they swapped their places. And now there was a guy next to me now. He was 6 feet, weighing over 120 Kg, and hair measuring over 1.5 feet. To be precise, like a tribe from Andaman.

“Hi, nice meeting you” – He

How nice? By the way, why nice”, I thought. “Hi hello” – Me



I switched on the TV. Same Arabic Movie. Oh yeah, I am still traveling in Emirates.

“You are a student?” – He.

This is worse, happening again

Once a guy in the office bus asked me if I am 2006 passed out and now, he is asking me if I am a student. “Yeah IV standard”, I thought of saying. “No, I work”, I said.

“Oh, ok I am student”

But he looked like dad’s cousin. “Oh is it”

“Are you from Pakistan?” – He

Again. “No, from India” – Me

“What’s your good name?”

Again?” I whispered. “Kiran”

“Oh” He wanted to say something, and I know what. But he stopped.

“What’s your name” – Me.

“WAGAS” – He

“I don’t get you. Spell it”


But this should be W-A-Q-A-S na?” I thought. “K or Q?”

“K” – He

Should it not be ‘Q’?” I thought, I know cricket players with their names as Waqas. “Hmmm, what does your name mean?”

“JANDHOOO” – he told this with eyes wide open and mouth like a fish’s with his fingers almost on my face

Perfect”, I thought and I turned towards my TV.

He was watching a Hindi movie, SRK casting.

“You know him?” – Me

“Yeah, I am his fan”

“You know Rajini Kant?”

“Yeah, Tamil movies?”

I was glad or rather very happy to hear this. “Exactly, and I am from that place only” Pride back on my face. I had an excellent view outside. Very tiny ships on the sea like a torn jean, clouds like ice scoops, mountain plateaus like spilled paint and sky like I've never seen before...

Heathrow at 20 minutes distance:

The ticket said that we will reach Heathrow at 6:40 PM and the time now is 6:20 PM and the information from the TV is 20 minutes left approximately. Mind blowing is it?

We were given immigration slips to fill to make our immigration in the airport simpler. I started filling it. I saw him filling. His name is ‘WAQAS’ on the slip.

“You said your name is W-A-K-A-S” – Me

“Yeah. W-A-K-A-S”.

“But you have written it as W-A-Q-A-S”

“It’s correct, W-A-K-A-S”

I got it now. He pronounces ‘Q’ as ‘K’.

Flight landed at 6:44 PM. I got down, managed to escape from the Jandoo.

Heathrow Airport:

Long queues everywhere, but didn’t spend time anywhere. Counters were active and queues were moving faster. [Pronounce faster as faeste.]

Queues are not like the one we stand here in Satyam theatre or in Ration Shops or in Railway station. Queue starts at least 3 meters away from the counter. First man moves to the counter only when the person in the counter is free. So at any time, the counter will have only one person. And there were more than 10 counters, giving preference to old people and the disabled. People in the queue including me stood patiently, until the person says “Next


I went to the counter.

Paespot pleeez” – She

What’s this?” Oh yeah I got it. I gave my passport, along with the work permit to avoid more questions.

You came on a Work Pemit?


Formalities went easy. Let me tell you, it is easier to travel to London from Chennai than traveling to Tambaram from Ambattur. User friendly people all around. All the boards in the airports are self explanatory. And if one gets lost anywhere, then he should be back to school.

I collected my check in baggage and moved towards the boards directing ‘Way Out’.

Airport to Karthick’s House:

I’ve informed about my trip to Karthick, my friend here from Chennai. He had been in London for about 2 months. With my check in and cabin on the trolley I started moving with the help of the sign boards.

“Heyyy”, I heard a voice. I saw Karthick standing, waiting for me for over 1 hour in terminal 3.

“Hi, hello” – Me

I told Karthick that I have ₤3000 with me, collected from the Forex department. ₤2900 as traveler’s cheques and ₤100 in cash. Karthick tried bargaining the taxi driver.

“Sir, Taxi?” – Driver

“Yeah, Sydenham Road, East Croydon” – Karthick.

“₤100” – Driver

“I took a taxi last week also, and we went for ₤70” – Karthick with a typical lie.

Oh here too!” I thought

“Yeah that is when you book it before” – Driver

“But ₤100 is too much” – Karthick

“₤85, brother” – Driver

Brother? Is he from India?” I started thinking.

We got into the taxi. ₤85 was the final deal. Had lots of discussions including my accommodation in the hotel for the first week, my permanent accommodation, my first week’s assignment like starting a new bank account, office formalities etc. I found the driver talking in Hindi. Yeah, he is an Indian. It took over 2 hours to reach the place. Good thing here is Karthick knows only one route to his home. And to use that route, we have to reach East Croydon Railway Station first.


Here traffic rules are followed like bible. Even if the whole road is clear, the vehicles stop in the signal if it is red, and they never cross the ‘STOP’ line. I remembered the way, we did it back home. Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTV) cameras are fixed in numerous places to check traffic violations and every movement is checked. Any traffic violation is reported and you get a fine receipt in your home. No traffic constables here.


Driver used all the possible ways to reach the home. But most of them were ‘No Entry/One way’. So we decided to get down in a bus stop near the railway station and walk home from there. I took my ₤100 from my wallet.

“Do you have ₤5?” – Driver

I had nothing more. I said “No” to Karthick.

He checked his wallet, when I saw a couple in the bus stop which never bothered that it is a bus stop. Discussion on the change to be disburse was going on between Karthick and the driver, while I was busy looking at them. I was certainly curious. I’ve heard about this. But this seems to be more than that. Did my friends do a censor before releasing to me?

“Gimme ₤10…” – Driver

“I don’t have ₤10, I will give …” – Karthick

Silence, but busy – Me

This loop ran for more than three times.

“Ok?” – Driver.

“Yeah fine” – Karthick

Very fine”, Me

“Can we go?” – Karthick

“Hey did u get the change properly? I didn’t understand it. I feel there is some problem” – Me, still my eyes busy.

“It’s correct. Got it right” – Karthick.

“If you can give me ₤15, its ok” – Me

Now, Karthick started calculating. “Oh no, ₤10 is robbed. You knew this?”


“Why the heck did you not tell me”

“I was busy”. By then we moved further, and they were away from our sight.

“Yeah, I know that you were busy watching them. This is very common here”, he said with a broken face after losing ₤10.

“What’s common?” I explained him what I saw.

“What? Hey man, you should have told me, I’ve never seen this before here”

“Good, should have I told this, he would have robbed ₤50 from you. Thank you Hindustani

He started explaining about the people, culture, places, shopping and everything.

“Here if a girl and guy can do what ever they want in the road. But no where you can find a guy with another guy walking together” – Karthick.

I took a step back. I got his meaning. He tried telling that a girl with a guy is treated as ‘that’ where as a guy with a guy is treated as ‘that’. And ‘that’ is accepted but not ‘that’, because, they say ‘that’ is ‘thaat’.

We reached home. Dinner was ready. My watched told me the fact that it was 2:00 AM IST. 9:30 BST. And the dinner is not a dinner for me, I was not hungry, rather tired and felt sleepy. I had some food with them, and slept.

Regent Park & Madame Tussauds:

Next day, the Sunday, the D-Day. When UK lagged by 4:30 hrs from India, and when I should have a jet lag, I felt no tired. Thanks to the night outs under hectic schedule. And I woke up before everyone at 7:00 AM local time. My watch displayed 11:30 AM. I woke up early just to call my parents and tell them London is fine. Oh sorry, to tell that I am fine. Vasanth and Jayaraman, staying with Karthick had to leave UK and go back India, due to some project issues. They decided to visit Madame Tussauds before they leave.

“Are you joining us?” – Vasanth asked me.

“Yeah sure”

We made a big gang. We went to Regent’s park before making move to Madame Tussauds. Regent’s Park is a very big park, with lakes, all sorts of flowers and birds. Well, again, it is summer here. We don’t go out in summer in India, but here, people come out only in summer, and more the sun, less the cloths they wear. It’s nice that I came here in summer. What we find in the corner seats of the cinema theatre in the dark, we find in the center seat of the park under the sun.

The lunch, prepared by many brought the one day trips that we organized in our final year college.


We either go out for a one day trip or manage to work on an IT visit on Thursday. No not for Ragavendra Swami, but for a lecturer. The lecturer who handled some subject in our final year BE, created a history on 13th Feb 2002. This history indeed created another history. This made us to quit her classes very often. And Thursday, we have two hours of her continuously. Rest is self explanatory.


Once we were done with our lunch, we walked towards Madame Tussauds. It is special for two things. First: where others stand with a static expression and we run around them with dynamic expressions; second: where we stand with a stand with static expression and the others run around us with dynamic expressions.

Part One: I could hear some music. Oh no it’s some Hindi song. I entered this section first. I saw a person calling me, with a mic in his hand. I really don’t know why he is calling for. Is he gonna ask me to dance? Or we look apt to the music? I tried to look in a different direction to avoid him. I turned back after few seconds. He was again calling me. But something struck me again. He was calling me exactly the same way he called me before. But nevertheless I don’t wanna take risk on the second day in London. I left the place. After a couple of minutes, I turned back to him, now he was calling another guy who was standing where I stood. But that guy looked more like Japanese. Why is he calling him for this Hindi movie? I decided not to look him again. He must be a psycho. But how can a person stand like a statue? Huh? Something struck me again. Mind blowing, he was not calling, rather it was calling. It’s a statue.

This place is primarily made of wax statues. From Marlin Monroe to Jenifer Lopez; Super Man to Spider Man; Shane Warne to Brian Lara and many more. And now, with crowds crowding, summer summing to that, I found Irene everywhere. When everyone started taking photos with the wax statues, I managed to convince a young, cute looking lady. But what else can I do? I only did what I missed with the Irene in the flight. I took a photo with a real.

Highlight was Vasanth, he was shrewd enough to make people believe that he is a statue. And it happened like some people took photos with him thinking that he is a statue. Awesome!

Part Two: This is funnier than the first part. The algorithm is simple. We have to go through a well secured path. We can go in groups and check the proceedings, have fun and leave the place. That is how part two works. Well, this is a picture at an altitude of 100 thousand feet. Getting down a 50 thousand feet, it gets a different picture. This is called Chamber of Horrors. It gives you some fatal music and scenes. And the real people with scary faces will run around us, to make us stand without expression or die with a heart attack. And we decided to enter into this. Few said yes, while others said they won’t enter. Me, Karthick and few more were the only guys brave enough and convinced the others and girls. As Kamal Hassan said, “Do you know what courage is? It’s acting as if you were not scared of!” And we were brave.

Here we go… one after the other, holding hands. The place was darker than pitch black, with music with 3D effect all over. Few were shouting out of fear. I saw an exit on the way which is for the people who got scared and would wish to leave. But, we proceeded. We were brave enough. We gripped our hands tighter. The place looked like a cave with small slits on the wall. We anticipated that there should be something coming out through those slits. I kept watching one of the slit on my right. It was only two feet in front of me. I took a step forward, my head fixed to my right side. One step now! Moved further! I am now exactly to the left of the slit. Hands gripped tighter. One step forward, now. The slit on the left is now behind me. I am done with one hurdle. Cool dude. At the same time, I heard some one shouting. I turned to my left, to see an women (or man?) with a bleeding one eye, the other eye missing, head broken, brain visible and pouring out, had lips on her left side, the right side had broken tooth. She brought her hand in front of my face which had 3 full fingers and one finger broken, bone visible, bleeding and the other finger which looks raw. Dynamic expression on her face; and static expression on my face. She kept shouting, and as and when she shouted, blood poured out of her mouth. I stood back; I was not sure what to do. We both were watching each other. Should we have watched a little more, no wonder we would have fixed a date. I am conscious back. Oh no, she is still showing her bleeding face in front of me. I moved further [read moved as ran]. On the way, I saw a man running, shouting, jumping, again with half face with skin and the other face with flesh, bones, raw. He passed through us. We were spared this time. Poor guys behind us! We moved further, wondering how long is this gonna be. On the way, found few bags hanging; bags with dead bodies, dripping blood. Oh dripping blood, then they are not dead bodies. They were all around us; on every direction. We tried to move further, when we found one of them started to shake. Then, the one behind me started to dance. And now, one beside Vasanth; and now all started to shake one by one. I though that a person or dead body or the ghost in the bag is trying to come out. They turned ferocious, and we had no option. One of the bags started tearing. And what is that coming out? Oh no, is that more blood? No, its flesh! Few of the bags started with some sarcastic sound. With our hands gripped, we managed to move out of the place without getting hit by them. We are now out of the place.

“Were you scared?” – Me

“Chi chi… no” – Karthick

“Very silly” – Vasanth

“I thought it would be very scary”, I said, and replied back “you remember there was a man running towards us?”

“Yeah” – Someone. Who said this? Not sure who said this. Are we still inside the Chamber of Horrors? But that doesn’t matter.

“I though that he ran away, because he was scared but actually he was the one who came towards us to scare us” – I chuckled. I know it was no joke. But everyone laughed. No one was under their control and that was fact.

But we are not scared. That is still our stand.

The Food:

Monday, I was shifted to the hotel in Wembley Park. My hotel is less than one minute walk from the Wembley Park Railway Station and stands tall in front of the Wembley Football stadium.

I got a pizza on Monday night from European restaurant. That did not taste great. But I could manage. But I went to the same place on Tuesday night as well. Not because, that I had some good food, only because the food is packed by a lady who looked just like Irene. Something is happening. I am sure, I will meet Irene again. This time I opted for a glamorous food. Chicken and some French fries. It really looked well. But only looked well. I had half of what is bought. Rest, I felt not eating. Fifteen minutes after that, I decided to vomit, to avoid fatal risk. I felt far better with an empty stomach. Wednesday, I decided to roam a bit further to search for a better place. I took a bus, I moved to place called Wembley Central. That was a new place to me. It was more crowded than Wembley Park. I attempted to cross the road, when a two-deck bus took a diversion, which I didn’t anticipate. The driver managed to stop less than a foot from me. I managed to get into a better position. The driver raised his thumb, smiled and went away. Back home…


I was riding my bike on the left side of the road. An auto which came in the opposite direction, tried to over take a lorry and eventually the auto driver took his auto over the median and stood in front of my bike, almost hit mine. I was not worried about that, but the best part is that he used obscene words at me. After all he was on the wrong side.


I managed to cross the road, smiling at the bus driver, watching him moving away. Something again, struck me. I saw something on the other side of the road, which I have seen many times. I turned back. “Where am I?” I could not believe. I found the word ‘Chennai’. I crossed the road back. It was a restaurant named “Chennai Dosa”. I started breathing again. I turned to my right, to see something more familiar. “Sanghamam” and written in Tamil. To my left is another shop with Tamil newspapers, behind me a lady talking in Tamil. Far to my right is a shop selling Tamil music CDs. Even further, I found ladies in saree. “Where am I?”

Had a great dinner in Chennai Dosa on Wednesday night and equally competing dinner at Sanghamam on Thursday and Friday. I got the same Chennai made Pongal, Puri, Idly Vadai and many more. What else I need, bud?

The Transport:

It’s a book with many pages. Get one transport card. You can travel in bus, tram and any type of trains. Transport here is well equipped. They second class compartments look far better than our first class’. Vehicles, be it train, tram or bus, the doors are closed before the departure. So no foot board! No boarding or parting the train in motion. Railways here have an excellent network. With a get a tube (underground trains are called tubes here) map and one can roam across anywhere without anyone’s help. Tubes run across the whole of London and it takes very less time, as it moves underground and takes minimal distance. I really wonder the network underground, designed at least 150 years back. We have many lines (like Chennai - Arakkonam, Chennai - Gummudipoondi, Chennai - Tambaram) running to different places through different route. And they run at a different depth from the sea level. These people are definitely brilliant in design. The whole London’s railway transport lies underground. Frequency of the trains varies from a minute to ten minutes and not more than that, usually. So miss a train, and you get a train very soon.

And for the first time, I saw zebra cross working like what I learnt in my second standard. I learnt that vehicles stop when it finds someone crossing in the zebra crossing. In India, we have zebra crossing and we can cross only when a green man walks on the signal. It does not work like that here. You can walk on the zebra cross and any vehicle on the road got to stop and it stops. We are safe.


Monday was a bank holiday and it was declared a holiday for everyone. Back home, it is a different story. I went to the railway station on Tuesday morning to go office. I was the only college student in the railway station. Even Chinni Jayanth used to carry some books while going to college. On the very first day to the client office, I went waving the empty hands. Everyone in the station had some book. Over 95% of the people in the railway station were reading news paper. I could not believe this. How come everyone manage to bring the newspaper to station and read? In the train, I saw one leaving his paper back in the train while getting down. But why? I don’t know. Answer came while I got the train and walking to the office. News papers are given free of cost.

For kids, who are less than 11 years, tickets in the train, bus are free, when accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket or a transport card

Kids can avail lots of free and discount offers here.

Charge the mobile for ₤10 and we can talk for the whole of ₤10. Back home, if we charge the mobile for Rs200, what we get is Rs50.

Get a mobile post paid connection; you get a mobile free of cost. And I am waiting for the I-Phone to get released.

The People:

Mixed! What so ever vertical we define. We find all sorts of people. People from almost all the nations are here. People with different colors, people with different languages, people with different characters. One place! London.

Once I was in a train and it was over crowded. I was standing in front a young girl. I personally feel that I should not try to describe her again and fail miserably. Black eyes, sharp nose, lips as if they were drawn to dimension and perfect. I stood exactly in front of her. I felt uneasy but she didn’t. For everyone getting into the train, the distance between us started getting reduced exponentially. This is not the first time happening to me. I started hearing the song from Manmadan,

Are you ready and here we go ladies this once for you Lakshmi, Padmini, Vidhya, Rekha, Sita, Gita oh Lalitha now now now wanna gonna get picture come on girls, can I kiss you?

We now moved closer and closer.

Song continued. “Reena, Meena, oh my Veena girls girls you know why I need you come on girls keep it up to me manmadhan thatz you are be...”.

Now almost our noses started wiping each others’ “Why should she have such a sharp nose?”, I thought. Now, again the song started from the first, I was wondering what happened to “thaththai thaththai thaththai”. Only the first few lines were getting repeated. Ufff, oh yeah, time for me to wake up. I switched off my alarm in my mobile. Alarm woke my up today, exceptional. Dreams are very near to a mirror. They reflect you and once broken they can't be mend. True!

Another instance, but this one is not in dream. I was in train. She defined what beauty is. She got a seat, reading a book, while I was standing beside her. I was waiting for the man next to her to get down. “God, help me. Let the next station be his and last station be hers’”, I prayed. And it happened. God is really great. He got down in the very next station. Now it’s me next to her. I started learning what beauty is. Redefinition! Never seen this ever before! We both were reading, she was reading the book and I started reading her. Of course we both were reading faeste. She created a book mark and closed the book. Shocked, I left the place immediately, whispering “No Sisssterr No Sisssterr”. The book named “How to Kill Your Husband (and Other Handy Household Hints)” by Kathy Lette. I feel like I must meet the author once. I am more bothered about the tag line than the title of the book.

On Tuesday, the first day to office, I had my lunch in a park near my office. Kids were playing in the park. It was nice to see people playing there. But I was wondering to see the same kids and more kids in the park on Wednesday and Thursday as well. I asked about this to my friend. I was shocked at this reply.

He said “Attendance is not mandatory here”

“Is it?” – Me

“Not only attendance, one need not pass in his board exams, even then he is promoted to next grade”

I could not believe this. “Their parents don’t insist them to go to school?”

“Here, there is no law that can sue a kid. If parents scold or hit their kids, then kids have rights to sue their parents”

This reminded me an incident which happened when I was 10 years old.


I went to a shop to buy something and the balance that I was given back is 125 paise. And remember that the shop was more than 1 km from my home. But apparently I lost 25 paise. My mom shouted at me which made me to walk through the same distance more than 3 times. I reached home with that lost 25p.


But that doesn’t work here. I remember hearing in BBC that students in UK find their syllabus very difficult. Hey com’n, how can one expect for one who never goes to school to find their syllabus easy. For sure, it will be easy for an Indian. Trust me.

One of my friends in office told me that every day you read newspaper and you will lose half a kg per day. But it was not clear when he said that. But eventually I am losing weight everyday reading the newspaper. There is no day, without a murder. Yes, the same happens in India as well. But it takes a different shape in UK. A 15 year old boy kills a 13 year old boy. A 14 year old boy stabs a 17 year old boy. At the age of 15, I was playing with a bat, but here, the kids play with a knife and a gun. A real one! Did you read it properly? R-E-A-L one!

The other day, the news paper read that a young girl aging less than 15 was alone in her home. Her parents had gone somewhere leaving her alone. She managed to call all her friends and strangers through some website to her home and they had fun. The next day when her parents came back, they saw the whole home spoiled, every room had vomit, liquor bottles rolling over, her wedding gown urinated and condoms littering on the bed. The damage was estimated to be over ₤1000. And the parents were helpless.

A lighter note, stronger though:

British ruled us. They did develop India to some extreme. One cannot deny this. They came into India to do business and our kings entertained them. People, who came to do business here, eventually ruled us. We got to salute at their intelligence. From cities to drainage system, it was well designed by British. But one should also understand that they developed themselves more than us with our resources. But certainly that is nothing wrong. We had resources, and left them idle. They were brilliant. They made use of them, which we failed. One can’t deny the fact that the people, who ruled us, were brilliant. Did you notice the past tense here? I mean it. The people now here are not like their ancestors. World is revolving. And now, we are started moving up. I personally feel that a country cannot be ruled by people who lack responsibility. 25 year down the line we may get a better picture.

They have cameras all over the roads, railway tracks, and in every home and this is to avoid robbery and terrorism. That does mean that they are technically developed. We don’t have them in India. Yeah, that is not required here. Do you know why? I damn bother to walk in Chennai, any place, any time, alone. But here, that is not the way. Even if I roam with my friends, we try to avoid few roads and places.

As Karu Palaniappan, director of Sivapathigaram, says “We have an assumption that talking in English depicts intelligence and talking in regional language doesn’t”. Very true, in deed! We still believe that people talking in English are intelligent. Let me tell you the basic fact. To be intelligent, you got to be intelligent. Language can never define it. And I believe that Indians are intelligent compared any one. Thanks Kiran (one who I saw in Dubai airport), you told this long back. I realized it to the fullest now. I am proud to be one among our millions.


aarthi said...

wow!!! no words to describe what i read...
It was like walking thru London... thru' the eyes of an Excited traveller...

I have started reading your works only recently... but, they always leave me with a feelin expecting more...

I couldn't stop till I came to the end...

aarthi said...

whew... wat a journey...
Starting right from ur home...

Awesome pics...
expecting more though...

When is the next part of this series coming up???

Eagerly awaiting... :)