Flashback: My days in London

Year 1997 was a watershed in my life. I was adjudged Tamil Nadu`s second best Naval NCC Cadet (don`t ask me why I wasn`t the first – even my father didn`t dare ask), I spent seven days in UK and three months in Canada. We will leave my Canadian sojourn for now and focus only on my British experiences, in this blog post.

Even when I was a kid my father taught me my first history lesson. He said that the β€˜sun never set on the English Empire`. My father turned out to be a big liar. In the seven days I was in London, the sun didn`t even come out. My shirt, trousers and the umbrella were always drenched.

No wonder wherever I went, natives asked: “Nice weather eh?” So much so, I thought British TV channels should stop having the weather report – why make such a big fuss over the weather when we know it is going to rain.

Those of you who have never had the privilege of taking an Air India flight to Canada that developed a technical snag and had to be grounded for a week in UK….let me tell you that it`s a very damp country.

I think it was the first day of our stay and we decided to visit the Piccadilly Circus. Since my childhood days, I have had a thing for the Russian girl acrobats, and thus loved trips to the circus. Some of the popular ones I remember are the Royal Circus, The Russian Circus & The Jumbo Circus. If you have been to many such circuses you have probably noticed that the poor circuses employ Malayali girls with shaven legs.

Anyway, as I was saying…Piccadilly Circus was a total rip-off. There were no Russian acrobats and no wild animals and no clowns. That day I decided not to trust the British. Anyway, who would want to trust a country that was once run by a Prime Minister who carried his Army Rank behind his name – John Major!

While people like you and me dress down for dinner (that`s getting into our pyjamas and lungis)…the British dress up for dinner. Imagine, shouting back, “Momma, I am ironing my suit,” when she called you for dinner?

During my stay there, I also went to Stratford-on-Avon – the place where Shakespeare was born. You wouldn`t believe it…but there was no place to break coconuts, no place to do an aarti, and no place buy garlands. How was I to show my respects to the man? Literary alright…but what kind of a pilgrimage would that be?

This brings us to the question that begs to be answered, “which country would take its β€˜plays` so seriously?”

I also happened to pass over the London Bridge. It was amazing sight. I was reminded of the childhood days when we would sing: β€˜London Bridge is falling down`. Later, I would come to know that the rhyme was written as a tribute to the number of times the bridge had fallen only to be put back in shape again. By those standards, we should have had nursery rhymes for our cricket team:

Our cricketing standards are falling down,
falling down, falling down,
Our cricketing standards are falling down.
My fair lady.

Build it up with Dhoni & Sachin,
Dhoni & Sachin, Dhoni & Sachin,
Build it up with Dhoni & Sachin,
My fair lady.

Dhoni & Sachin will retire away,
Retire away, Retire away,
Dhoni & Sachin will retire away,
My fair lady.

(The rhyme is actually a 12 stanza piece, that`s difficult to memorize)

By the time the technical snag in our airplane was set right, I had realized one thing…London is a boring place. Especially because living there was like living in Punjab still ruled by the Britishers!

Other Funny Reads

# When I became a cockroach
# Accepting gifts from relatives
# Dangers of Short Messaging Service (SMS)
# To be a father or not to be
# Communicating a baby`s birth to the World

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11 thoughts on “Flashback: My days in London

  1. Hey you went to Stratford-on-Avon???? Surprising, among all the things … profound to mundane… we ever talked… we never discussed this? πŸ™‚

    1997 is long way back. But when I went to UK from Chennai… my first observation while checking out Heathrow airport was, “I’ve heard more Hindi here in the last 10 minutes, than I have heard in Chennai in the last 10 months!”

    Ok, the funniest line of this post for me? The one about the army rank behind the name πŸ™‚ … Major John looks so Bollywoodish πŸ˜€

  2. Cool…I really liked this one. So did the beautiful girl sitting next to me in TOI chennai. She, I think, plans to become a regular visitor to ouchmytoe. πŸ™‚

  3. I have a gut feeling that John Major got his name not from the Army but from…… Oh God! Could I write it out here? Ok.Its a secret between you and me…will mail you if you want to know πŸ™‚

  4. “Especially because living there was like living in Punjab still ruled by the Britishers!”
    Is it a barb at the Punjabis or at the Brits or at both. Either way, doesn’t really sound amusing to me. I am curious what exactly would You prefer to see in London – a Madras ruled by corrupt dhotiwalas, or a Bihar ruled by spitting paanwalas? or perhaps a Mumbai ruled by several xenophobic guys who fight among themselves over who hates non-marathis more?

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