Monday, January 21, 2008

National Treasure - Book of Secrets

When I am sad and really down, watching a movie helps. Last evening was no exception. I had to put up a smiling facade through the welcome dinner for the Immersion guys; hell! I had to, I lead the initiative. But then the false impression of happiness is no match for the real thing. I cant say I was happy by the end of the evening, but yes I can say I was ready to face things once again.

Dinner at "All Stir Fry" was good as usual and I went for my usual fare of Pepper Barbecue, followed by a Szechuan toss up with the conclusion being my favorite selection of squids tossed up with green chillies, coriander and oyster sauce. Sluuuurrp!

While National Treasure is one of those "Yeah, it'll all be ok, dont worry" movie with its own set of cheap thrills, I didnt mind too much cuz it was entertaining, funny in patches, had its share of picks from age old urban legends. The few laughs and the couple of thrilling sequences made me forget what my pre-movie state of mind was. I hate the experience of watching a movie alone. What I love is the fact that it helps me balance myself. Something's gotta give, I guess... Its just a matter of choosing what its gotta be.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Five Recall Factors

One of the most interesting training mnemonics I talk about. We had a reasonably engaging discussion about this so that was nice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Now how cool is that!

Yahoo goes one up on Google with this one. What I hated about Google maps was that in my own country, if I had to find the way from A to B, I had to rely on asking and that wouldnt get me the best directions. Yahoo, gets me Indian directions. Check out the image. This is just fascinating!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

London by night

Trafalgar Square
Buckingham Palace

Despite the fact that I still believe that Europe lacks Asia's vibrance, colour and enigmatic appeal, London's definitely a beautiful city and a photographer's delight. I have always had an interest as an amateur photographer and it was such a pity that I had to wait till I got to the end of my rope to be able take pictures of London by night.

The London Eye
Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

It wasnt a really good effort trying to get all those pictures. Some of them are just awful and thats what happens on a windy night in London. I did exasperate myself with the efforts and my batteries dying out on separate occasions wasnt much of a help. What was good despite such a fiasco, was that I was able to buy my wife something -- 4 pairs of the exact same shoes that she was looking for. I hope they fit; she's had little of my support in the past few months and maybe this will bring a smile to her face. She loves shoes :-).

Monday, January 07, 2008

Living in the UK

Over the last few days, one of the lingering thoughts in my mind has been around getting a hang of what attracts Indians to the west. This being my 3rd visit to a western country, I can to a great extent understand the usual reasons for attraction. I myself have always wished to be able to live and work in Australia (amongst other countries!) for a period of time. I am not sure if I want to settle down there though.

In India its obviously cool for people to say, "Hey, I work in London!" and the "Wow!" that you get is obviously exciting. Being a country that has a history of western rule, its also a nice proud moment for parents to say, "My son is in New York right now. He's doing really well." Its also something girls in India want -- to marry an Indian boy settled in the west.

I try to look at things differently. Yes, for me its exciting to stay in a different country and I dont mind if its China, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, England, Italy or the US. Maybe even Pakistan! I enjoy travel and I find it exciting to explore cultures and be able to understand people from various parts of the world. To make another place my home, is something I tend to find very difficult. For an Indian, earning in INR, its difficult to immediately match the buying power of the west. So your start in a western country is obviously trouble ridden. You never have enough money, some people have a tendency to be racist and to measure you by the amount of money you earn and you stay miles away from work in suburbs like Wembley and Southhall in London. On the contrary in India, your salary (thats petty by international standards) can buy you a lifestyle, a car, dinners at theme restaurants, the occasional night out at a discotheque/ pub and all that you really want.

For me settling in a foreign country means not having to make a choice between being a somebody in my country and being a nobody in another. I know thats a risk averse way of speaking. But so be it! My wife, my dog, my parents are really what my life revolves around. I'd rather be a first class citizen of the third world than be struggling to keep them comfortable in the first!

Crucial Confrontation

Today at work I did my bit to be assertive, though I start to think it was in a negative sort of a way. While the details are things that I'd like to keep away from my blog, I have made up my mind to confront the issue head on, since I believe I am experienced enough not to be talked down to.

Well simply speaking, its feedback to be given and taken as well, because I'm sure I need some myself. I hope it happens with the right intentions, mindset and environment.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Woah! Long walk...

The Magnificent St Paul's
The London Eye by Night

Today went as planned. I am left with the huge fortune of £4.97 and have had no casualties but bad pictures. Have walked the length and breadth of London today, eaten at the "all you can eat" joint at Southbank -- Chopstix... and ... I absolutely hated it!! Well, that's left me exhausted!

That's me at Nelson's Column
Romancing the stars

Yeah, and thats what happens when you ask strangers to click your pictures. Well, trust the forgetful me, to forget my tripod at home. Have broadcasted to the London office for some good Samaritan to lend me a tripod for a night photography trip across Southbank.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Getting around as planned

The London Eye Changing Guard (Horse Guards)
Mr Squirrel @ St James Park
My English Breakfast

So the £32.25 challenge that I set myself for this weekend in London, is still on. I have in fact amazed myself by the limited casualties of today. I lost the maps I'd printed off Google. Its a real pity since they were handy directions to some of the places I was planning to visit over the weekend. I also lost the complimentary map that the hotel gave me, but I aint too stressed about that since I have a reasonably better map at my disposal. On the money front, I have the enviable fortune £ 16.20 in my pocket and considering I was generous enough to pay £ 3 to street performers at Covent Garden, I've done a remarkable job to stay within budget. My Oyster card's intact with all the money still on it. At the same time, I've made no compromises on the way I wanted to go around London.

Plans for tomorrow -- start the day by walking on Southbank, catch a few sights around the place with enough time to get photos (!!); take a detour around 11 to Buckingham Palace to view the change of guard; walk back to Picadilly Circus and hop on the tube to Baker St station and then visit Madame Tussauds; I am still debating what I should do after I'm done with Tussauds. I guess I'll perhaps go up to Covent Garden and enjoy a few street performances and top that off with dinner at the Waterloo Pier or Leicester Square. Sounds like a plan? Lets see if it meets the £16.20 challenge!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Plans for a London weekend

I do enjoy planning touristy stuff, but I havent had the time to do so on any of my business visits. The last two days in London have been spent living on fast food and I've mostly got through on impulse and instinct. I'm counting on my poor sense of direction and bad tourist instincts to get me through the weekend. Dont have much of a plan. My kit for the week is above.

Clockwise from bottom left: Tube, rail and bus maps; my Oyster Card with £10 on it; £32.25 -- the cash I've rationed for myself for the weekend; a nice big London Map; flyer for the "Original" London Sightseeing tour; ticket for the "Original" London Sightseeing tour; a Southbank walking tour map; my USB wireless modem; Google maps I've printed with directions from the hotel/ work; a walking tour map of Southbank for the young and restless; a ticket for Madame Tussaud's for Sunday.

I hope I can make the most of my weekend with that kit.

Cant ever get lost!

Its lovely to never be lost in a big city. 2nd day in London, with little clue about directions and I trust Google to be my saviour to lead me to work. So it did! All hail the mighty Google!
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