Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The pastry

"Didi, woh cake dena..."
"Usey pastry kehte hain"
"Kya ?"
"Pastry !"
"Achha...wohi...dena...woh chocolate wala"
"Mehenga hai. Paise hain kya ?"

Suddenly Chhotu felt completely out of place in the pastry shop. He, with his old, oversized, dirty clothes, face streaked with soot and rough dirty hands, didn't belong here. The lady at the counter was so clean. She was wearing new clothes and she smelled so nice. The whole shop smelled so nice in fact, that Chhotu felt that a balloon seller like him who lived on the footpath was somehow polluting the air of that shop.

Suddenly his confident tone vanished. He put his grubby hands in his pocket, removed the crimpled notes and counted them under his breath "10...20...30...40...50"

Then in a shaky voice, he told the pretty lady, "Pachaas hain"

The lady paused, looked at him from head to toe, breathed in audibly and said, "Yeh pastry pachpan ki hai"

Chhotu's face fell. He clutched harder at the crumpled notes and put them back in his pocket. Dejected, he turned around to leave the shop.

"Lekin..." he suddenly heard the lady say and he turned to face her "Agar tum yahan jhadoo lagaoge, toh main tumhe yeh pastry pachaas mein doongi"

Chhotu took one whole minute to grasp what the lady said. And when he did, he flashed his brightest smile at her. The lady gave him a mischievous smile.

When Chhotu walked out of the shop he momentarily wondered why he saw tears glistening in the pretty lady's eyes. But instantly his attention was diverted towards the luscious, rich, chocolate pastry in his hand and his eyes twinkled...so brightly that they could well have been diamonds.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

"Silent" Songs !

A couple of days ago, I was conducting a theatre workshop for a bunch of college students. At some point we came to discussing what they liked to do in their spare time. Here's a snippet:

One kid in the workshop: I just love 'silent' songs
Me: You mean soft songs, don't you ?
Kid: No no...silent songs
Me: So, these 'silent' songs...are you actually able to hear them ?
Kid, staring blankly at me: Eh ?

I drew my breath and was about to launch into an explanation about the meaning of 'silent' and its incorrect usage in this case, but suddenly I just felt it was all worthless and exhaled loudly, like a big sigh, and moved to the next person.

Apparently using precise words is a dying art. SIGH !

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Nowadays I fear situations when people ask me my opinion about something.

There is only one condition when both they and I are happy with this opinion exchange business. That is when my opinion concurs with theirs. In such a case, they ask for my opinion, I give them my opinion. They see that it matches theirs and are happy. I am happy that I didn't have to lie or to defend my opinion or to face their attempts to convince me about their point of view.

I have observed that most people ask opinions only to get theirs validated.

If my opinion doesn't concur with theirs, they are unhappy. It makes me feel it would have been better to lie. But I absolutely hate that. When I express an opinion to the contrary, I am not expecting them to change theirs. What I do expect is that my opinion be heard and given some thought to. I am not concerned if they change their opinion or not.

Some people get offended and make you explain, even defend your opinion. I am glad to get the opportunity to explain my opinions. I don't like to defend them though. And there is a difference. I am not trying to convince anybody about my perspective. If you don't like my opinion, simply discard it !

Some even go as far as to try to convince me how my opinion is wrong and how theirs is right. You have your opinion and I have mine. I am happy to get an insight into how you formed your opinion. I am, however, not open to being bombarded with a sales pitch.

Why does everybody have to have identical opinions on everything ? Why can't we simply agree to disagree ?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

This Thing Called Life...

Is this what it’s meant to be...this thing called life ?

Like being on a swing...
Head in the clouds when you’re up
And feet on the ground as you come down ?
Like being on a roller-coaster...
The rush of excitement as you climb higher
And the vacuum in your stomach as you descend ?
On and on...in a loop...till eternity ?

Or starting off as a trickle,
In the middle of a forest or on top of a mountain...
Forging ahead to meet new landscapes
While leaving behind those that you will never visit again...
Joining others along the way and rushing forth...
Being thrown, by the sheer velocity and force of a collective, into vastness...
Trying to not get lost...
Trying to make sense, to be meaningful...
And one day quietly evaporating into nothingness ?

To have, to want...
To create, to destroy and to create again...
To love, to lose, to let go...

To struggle to change...
Or to resist it...
To think that you know...
Or to know that you don’t...

Is this what it’s meant to be...this thing called life ?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Belgaum Snapshots

On popular demand (= request from (possibly) the only reader of this blog), we interrupt the broadcast of the UK diaries to post about the short work-vacation trip to Belgaum. For those interested and waiting with bated breath (!) for the last instalment of the UK diaries, it shall be broadcast after this post…I promise !

I am currently on a short trip to Belgaum to conduct a theatre workshop for kids aged 8 to 15 years. I had never been to Belgaum before. So this has been a very interesting experience.

Here are some (word, not photograph) snapshots from the trip.

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The first thing that struck me as I reached here was the very different way in which everybody spoke Marathi. The accent is distinctly Kannada and the words and sounds are very well rounded. In Pune-Mumbai we speak in quite a sharp manner…crisply cut sounds et al. Also, there is a fun way of combining the last two words (usually the verbs, in Marathi) of a sentence.

I learnt that almost 80% of the population of Belgaum is Marathi-speaking, and proud of it. The Maharashtra-Karnataka dispute about Belgaum is very much present at the back of everybody's minds though nobody refers to it. It surfaces in choices and preferences. Almost all the kids in my workshop do not like learning Kannada, which is a compulsory subject in schools here.

This morning there was a procession of some deity and as is usual in such processions, there was loud music accompanying it. All the songs in the procession were either Hindi (few) or Marathi (most). The Marathi songs were mostly praises about Maharashtra (Jay Jay Maharashtra Maza for example) or about Shivaji and his sardars.

Here almost everybody with a basic education knows at least 4 languages – Marathi, Hindi, English and Kannada and a few even know Konkani. I've always believed that being multi-lingual is wonderful. (Aside: I had read somewhere that the brain centre that controls / facilitates the learning of languages is also responsible for Mathematics ! Amazing, isn't it ?) Fed by zealous politicians' propaganda however, sharp divides are forming in people here – those who are pro-learning Kannada and those who are anti. It is rather unfortunate. In my opinion, each language has its own beauty and charm. The more you know, the richer you are. It is all very well to be proud of your mother tongue and insist on knowing it well and using it everywhere, but this doesn’t mean that other languages are inferior. However, I believe I am a part of a pathetic minority who hold this opinion.

*******

Belgaum is a sleepy little town that is reminiscent of Pune about 20-odd years ago – small, shaded lanes, quaint stone bungalows, waadaas and a general laid-back speed. Also, as told to me by several Belgaum-kars and noticed by me too, Belgaum ends at about 5 kilometres in any direction…it is that small. Travelling times are typically 5-7 minutes and 15 minutes in extreme traffic…believe me, I've experienced one horrendous traffic jam at an intersection called RPD Cross. Traffic in this town is even more chaotic than in Pune – something I never thought I'd be saying about ANY city in the world ! Policemen are present here and there but I haven't seen them do anything about the traffic…this is just like Pune :)

As is the destiny of all sweet little towns everywhere in this changing world, Belgaum too is changing…striving to embrace modernism, which, in my opinion, is mistaken by many to be consumerism. There are new apartments being built by demolishing old stone bungalows. There is Big Bazar and Café Coffee Day and many other such establishments that offer the feeling of being modern…of being a big city.
*******

The prices of some things in this town are unbelievable ! 

The other day I was reading the newspapers (Tarun Bharat and Sakal, for those interested in knowing) and read the classifieds for sale and rental of houses and was blown away by the prices.

Most notably (since I had it thrice in the last 10 days) is the difference in the price of ice-cream. A single scoop of ice-cream (same size as in Pune) costs Rs. 13, three scoops for Rs. 40 and a humungous sized Sundae just Rs. 60 !!! Not just that, when you order even just a single scoop, it comes garnished with fruit pulp and dry-fruits or tutti-frutti ! Royal ! :)
                                         
*******

The people of Belgaum, all those that I interacted with, are very friendly, welcoming, very very hospitable and quite proud of their town. There is much more of a sense of community living here than in Pune. There is much more sharing of their lives. Nearly everybody knows everybody. For somebody so thoroughly city-bred like me, it is a slight adjustment but also a very interesting experience.

The kids in my workshop are so much more innocent than the kids in Pune that initially I thought them to be naïve. Later, on reflection I realised that actually, this is how childhood ought to be – innocent. Pune-Mumbai kids have way too much exposure and I wonder if that doesn't make them too hardened before their time.

The two people that I spent the most time with in Belgaum are S-tai and SK.

I have been put up in a separate room in S-tai's home. She has a home-based small catering business and also holds a senior position in an educational institution. She has come up the hard way and is a very simple person. She is an amazing lady who has a history of misfortune. But S-tai is a fighter and she has overcome her share of problems with amazing good grace, courage and humour. You'll never find her complaining. She has a wicked sense of humour and is always cracking me up. She is very intelligent and sharp, practical and a lady with very strong principles. S-tai is a big inspiration to me.

SK became TH's friend first and I only met her a day before I came to Belgaum. She was in Pune and returned to Belgaum on the fourth day of my workshop. Since then I have come to know about her myriad activities and skills – she is a dancer and a singer, an excellent organiser who puts up music-dance-drama programmes of a very large proportion for a charitable organisation. Her circle of friends is so large and so varied that she always enjoys help and support in practically ANYthing that she takes up. The reason for this beautiful and huge sphere of friends and well-wishers is that SK truly loves all her friends and does everything in her power (which, believe me, is considerably extensive) to help them. Don't be misled…this petite lady packs quite a punch.

The people of Belgaum are truly the most wonderful part of my Belgaum experience.

*******

No matter how much fun you have with family abroad, no matter how good the people are in a particular place, no matter how well you spend your time in meeting new people, seeing new places and learning new things, after all, home is home. I've been away for two months now and getting very homesick. But it's just another three days and I'll be home.

The next update will be from HOME :)

Ciao !

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Three (more) eventful days in London !

There is so much that we have done over the last week that it is going to be so difficult to capture all of it in a blogpost, but I'll try...

We spent three days in London...30th April and 1st and 2nd May. We stayed with the very warm and welcoming H, S and their wonderful daughter A. On the 30th we reached Euston and decided to walk about Central London for the day and go to H & S's home in North Harrow in the evening.

So we walked about Tottenham Court Road, a bit in Soho and later in Covent Garden and on Shaftesbury Avenue. The lanes of Covent Garden are quite unique. There are small (both inexpensive and expensive) eateries serving all kinds of food. We saw a monument called The Seven Dials Monument and the quintessential London landmark - the red telephone booth. We also came across a monument to Agatha Christie ! 





The great fun was to see (play) theatres almost at every corner. There was the Ambassador's Theatre where Stomp is being staged and there was St. Martin's where The Mousetrap has been running for 60 years now and there were many others. It was wonderful to be in that area. At Cambridge Circus there was a theatre where Singing In The Rain was being staged and the decor outside was made using a lot of umbrellas. 

I've noticed that there are interesting signs outside shops and pubs here. 




Also, there is art everywhere...on the entrance of shops or pubs or restaurants, on top of buildings, on lamp-posts in streets...everywhere ! We even saw very brightly coloured office buildings !





While walking on the main road outside Covent Garden tube station, I sent a text to my brother that we were walking in the area. He promptly called and gave us nearly ten options for food ! Chinese, Japanese, British, American, Mexican. He also recommended several places where we could have desert. After walking about a lot we were very hungry and decided to eat at a restaurant called Chipotle that serves Mexican food. We had to go across the counter assembly line. First they asked if we wanted a burrito or a burrito bowl (stuffing only and no tortillas - the maida chapati). Then you specify which stuffing you want. Typically it is some type of rice plus some type of beans plus some meat plus some salad plus some sauce. Almost everywhere we ate, we were asked which drink we wanted to have with our food...ranging from soft to hard drinks...but never water. If we want water we ask for tap water without ice ! 

After a sumptuous lunch we decided to see the National Portrait Gallery. So we walked to Trafalgar Square. The place was literally choc-a-bloc with tourists jostling with each other to get photographs with the lions in the square. TH somehow managed to click Lord Nelson's column with nobody in the frame.


There were some street artists. One chap was in a frozen pose and all dressed and painted in copper. Another was walking about wearing the Shrek costume. A third was singing Jazz Blues. Another was creating poses with audience members who wanted to be photographed with him. Usually they were ballroom dancing poses or action movie poses.




We spent a little time in Trafalgar Square before proceeding inside to the National Portrait Gallery. Like all other museums we have seen here, it has a huge collection. Amazing works of art from as old as the 1200s to present day. But there is only so much art that I can take in at one time :) Soon we were tired from walking all day and decided to head to H & S's home.

We went down to the Charing Cross tube station in Trafalgar Square. I couldn't see any ticket window. There were a couple of automatic machines. Here the machines have clear instructions for passengers. Some machines accept only cards. Some accept cash and cards but do not return change. So you have to tender exact change. Then there are some that accept cash and return change. All this is mentioned on each machine is a large font. So we found a machine that accepted cash and returned change. This was the first time we would be buying from a machine and frankly, I was a bit nervous about whether we would get tickets and also our change back. Yet I punched in all details on the touch screen and TH inserted the cash. And lo and behold ! Promptly there was change as well as our tickets in the receptacle ! I was so trilled that I almost jumped up and down :)

Ticket purchased, we proceeded to North Harrow. One station before North Harrow, I called H (who is my cousin SIL's cousin...distant, I know...and yet she was so warm and welcoming). She sent her husband S to the station to fetch us. Their place is hardly 5 minutes walking distance away from the station. 


When we reached their home their lovely daughter A had just returned from piano class. S & H gave us a very warm welcome and so did A. We were given the spacious guest bedroom to live in. They had thought of the smallest conveniences for us and made nice arrangements. Our conversation that began as soon as we reached continued through the evening, through dinner and went on till 1:00 a.m. and would have continued further had we not realised that the next day was a working day for both H & S. We heard A play the piano. She is such a talented girl ! She is just 9 and her reading skills are those of a 16 year old. She plays the piano and she composes too ! We heard some of her compositions and liked them. Above all, she is so sweet natured. TH and I instantly took a liking to her.

The next morning, our first stop was Baker Street just to have a look at Sherlock Holmes' statue and home. The statue is just outside the Baker Street station. Outside the famous address '221B Baker street', we found a long line of people waiting to get inside and view The Sherlock Holmes Museum. We had already decided not to see it.


So we proceeded to Regents Park. It is indescribably beautiful. Photos hardly do it justice. There are flowers of all imaginable varieties and colours, thoughtfully planted rows and rows of flowers and trees to form different designs and vast, well manicured lawns. Also, there are ponds with many types of ducks. We had decided to spend only an hour there but ended up spending an hour and a half and we could see only half of it !










That was a very bright and sunny day and TH actually complained twice that he was beginning to perspire ! So we hopped on the bus and went to Picadilly Circus. What a wonderful ride we had ! The whole area - Bond Street, Oxford Circus and Picadilly Circus is all about high fashion. All the branded shops are here. These areas are always packed with tourists and it is very vibrant.






It was nearly 3:30 when we realised we were famished. So, again on my brother and SIL's recommendation, we went here:


After eating we went to the London Bridge. We wanted to go to The Globe. As we walked from the London Bridge station to The Globe, we saw such beautiful old architecture along the Queen's walk ! The Southwark Cathedral is so beautiful and quite petite compared to others we have seen here. At one point on the walk you can see The Shard - a very modern building and The Southwark Cathedral - as old as the 1500s next to one another...and that is a nice sight.



We took a leisurely stroll to Shakespeare's Globe to book tickets for a show on the next day. It is an interesting space. As all other establishments, staff here is very helpful and friendly. We bought yard tickets to the afternoon show of The Tempest, loitered around a bit on the premises, looked at all the interesting stuff in the shop and were on our way. 


We decided to walk back to London Bridge station and then go to North Harrow. I must say that everywhere Google Maps helped us so much ! As we were walking to the London Bridge tube station, we came upon a place where there was a very well dressed, office-goer crowd standing and sitting on the roads with glasses of beer and wine in their hands outside a large pub. I instantly remembered how back home we see people standing at tea-tapris with cups of chai in their hands :)


Just a little further we saw the Borough Market, which was closed, since it was way past 5:30 p.m. But the vibe seemed interesting. So we made a mental note to visit it the next day before going to The Globe for The Tempest.

When we returned to North Harrow, I called up my friend K, who, I had found out, lives in the area. We decided to meet for post-dinner coffee. He came to pick us up from H & S's home. His home was just 5 minutes away by car. When we reached K's place, we met his very friendly wife S and her mom, his shy son A and his baby daughter S who was three days shy of being one month old. We had so much fun at their place...all are such friendly people and her mom gave us wonderful South Indian coffee. We chatted till late into the night and then he dropped us back. We were both so happy that we could meet...what were the chances that I would visit his place in London ?

Early the next morning there was Victorian dress day at H & S's daughter A's school. H asked us if we were interested in seeing her school and all kids dressed up in old Victorian costumes. We jumped at the opportunity. We went to her school, which is small and cosy. It was fun to see all her classmates dressed in old Victorian costumes.

Later we went into Central London directly to the Borough Market. It is London's oldest fruit and vegetable market which now also sells all imaginable varieties of food from all over the world. 


There were amazing amounts of cheese and the fruits and vegetables were so fresh and arranged in an aesthetic way.









There were artichokes and mushrooms and even olives of at least ten types.



There were was this interesting display of Oysters.



In one shop they were selling burger patties made from meat of ALL kinds of animals possible. We were clicking photographs over there when I heard a woman to my left exclaim in despair, "Ohhh !". I looked at her and she caught my eye. By this time we had seen another type of meat and this time she exclaimed with even more horror in her voice, "Oohhhhh !" And then she said to me, "Oooohhhh ! Do we have to eat camels now ?". Then we moved to the next animal and by this time she was so mortified that she very loudly exclaimed, "Oh my god ! Oh no ! And I'm a vegetarian too !! Oh god !" and quickly scurried away, the most pained expression on her face.






We wandered around some more stalls in the market and then realised that we'd have to leave right away if we wanted to be in time for the play.

When we came to The Globe, some yard ticket holders were already standing in line to get an entry...and it was half an hour before the show. Luckily there weren't too many people in line ahead of us. Five minutes later the doors opened and we all went in. TH and I quickly moved towards the centre of the stage and got to stand behind two Japanese girls who were almost leaning on the stage. They were really good positions. Gradually the crowd increased and within 15 minutes the yard area was full.



About five minutes before the actual performance began, three musicians came on stage in costume and started playing music. Then an actor came and encouraged the audience to clap along with them. After about 5 minutes, when he had the entire audience's attention, the musicians left and he introduced the play and almost immediately it began. It was in broad daylight. So there was no support of a light design. It was an open stage. So the advantage that a closed space offers in terms of audience attention was missing too. Yet that didn't make one bit of difference. The performance was amazingly energetic. I absolutely loved the performances of the actor who played Prospero and the one who played Ariel. All others were good too. Even the other spirit girls who sang. There were just two or three special effects in the play and they were executed well. 

After a first act of an hour and fifteen minutes, the entire yard audience sat down right there on the floor...that is how much our legs were aching !

The ushers were older people who, I think, volunteer to be ushers. They were standing from way before we came in the theatre to much after we left and never once sat down. The entire audience standing in the yard, on the other hand, promptly sat down as the interval was announced.


We were not allowed to take photographs during the performance. So we took some before and some after.




In the morning H had dispatched us from home after feeding us a very heavy breakfast. So we knew we wouldn't get hungry at lunch time. Still we took along some munch. I was wondering if we could eat inside the auditorium, but when the play started, I saw several people drinking even during the performance...some even had beer glasses in their hands, some had juices and some had soft drinks. During the interval, we even saw two British grannies bring out tiffin boxes in which they had brought home-made sandwiches and cakes. So we too had our munch in the interval.

After the performance, we were feeling hungry. This time we decided to visit Ciao Italia in the lane behind the National Portrait Gallery, again on recommendation from my brother and SIL. Ciao Italia is an Italian joint. What is special about it is, however, the ice-creams they serve. They are very different than usual choices available, the portions are large and some are even uniquely designed ice-creams. 

So we went to Ciao Italia. It was 6:15 p.m. as we entered the restaurant. We had a train to catch to Rugby at 7:45 p.m. So we knew we would have to be out of the restaurant at the very latest by 7:15 p.m. We thought one hour would be sufficient.

As we were entering the restaurant, this waiter stepped forward and said, "Hi Love" ! :D He was flirty with all ladies in the restaurant. I've had this experience in another Italian restaurant here. These Italians...hmmm ;)

So, we ordered a pizza called Neptune pizza that had anchovies and ham and olives. 


It took so long for the pizza to arrive. Here everything is at a leisurely pace in restaurants, which is a wonderful change from the restaurants back home where waiters and customers alike will hover around and stare till the time you finish your food, pay up and leave. But that day, since we were in a rush, this leisurely pace wasn't to our liking ! So when the waiter came with the pizza, we requested him to take our order for ice-creams right away saying that we had a train to catch. The waiter was so good. He said he'd keep a watch and bring our ice-creams as soon as we were done with the pizza. But we didn't once catch him 'keeping a watch'. And yet, as soon as the pizza was over, he came and took away the plates and promptly returned with the ice-creams...and I promptly regretted eating pizza ! See for yourself why...



The first is an Amaretto cup with ice-cream, biscuits, nuts, liqueur and whipped cream and is nearly 9 inches tall and the other is smaller but more potent due to all the gooey chocolatey goodness ! The ice-creams were unbelievably delicious :) But we gobbled them up. We were cutting it really fine. While eating we had, with help from Google maps found out that the Leicester Square tube station was the nearest and from there we would reach Euston in a mere eight minutes. We left Ciao Italia at 7:15 p.m. sharp and made a run for Leicester Square station, ran into the tube that arrived just as we reached the platform and thus reached Euston in time for our train back to Rugby.

We were at home the next day only to venture into London once more to meet our friend AG whom we hadn't met for nearly 5 years. She doesn't live in London any more but lives in Essex which is close enough. So we decided to meet outside the Tate Modern, which he hadn't visited. On our train from Rugby to Euston, as we entered we saw these three guys wearing complete green costumes with top hats and fake beards. Apparently they were on their way to some football match in London and supporters of a particular team. On that day, it seemed as if everybody was going into London. Very soon the train became full and there was loud laughter, chatter and occasionally even some singing. At one point of time the compartment was so noisy that we couldn't hear the announcements !

We reached London in high spirits...having caught the weekend mood of our co-travellers. We proceeded to the tube station to go to the London Bridge station. The one thing that I never cease to be awed by is the sheer depths to which the escalators take us to reach the various tube stations.


We reached before her and sat outside looking at the river. The weather was cloudy and it looked as if it would rain. Since we had gone on a Saturday of a long weekend extending to Monday, we knew that slowly crowds would come out to enjoy the museums and activities on the South Bank. Already there were a couple of musicians setting up. 




Soon afterwards AG arrived and we were all very happy to see each other. We sat outside the Tate Modern under some cafe umbrellas and chatted away to glory. Suddenly it started to rain and it was a Pune-type 15 minute shower and then just as suddenly it stopped and the sun came out !

A while later we decided to take in an exhibit about Poetry and Dreams inside the Tate Modern. Here are some exhibits. 









The next two are photographs from 1936-1940 by an artist who made thousands of these to protest against Hitler's policies and activities that ultimately led to WWII.



After this exhibition, it was nearly lunch time. So AG said she knew this nice little Turkish restaurant just outside Southwark tube station, which is just 10 minutes walking distance away from the Tate Modern. Since it was a Saturday, the whole area wore a deserted look.


EV, the Turkish restaurant, had a nice vibe. They had seating outside...lovely wooden tables and chairs with Turkish blue upholstery and table decor typical of Turkey... amphora for water ! As we sat down a waitress came and set down a bowl of bread and a nice minty dip with olive oil to eat while we placed our order and waited for it to arrive. We ate some good food...prawn casserole, orange and cinnamon rice, artichoke and vegetable casserole (we ate artichokes for the first time) and some falafel with tahini sauce. We followed it up with very strong Turkish coffee. Along with good food there was good conversation and it was so good to meet AG :)

Later AG had to return and we decided to quickly pop in at Hyde Park. It is so vast that it is impossible that we would be able to see even a quarter but we decided to see just a little bit.




Later it was time to return to Rugby. We didn't have a specific train this time but we needed to catch one at a reasonable hour so that we would reach Rugby at a decent hour and my brother could come to the station to pick us up. So we took the bus to Charing Cross station. This one too passes through the Bond Street-Oxford Circus-Picadilly Circus area. Since we were on the top floor of a double-decker bus, it was one enjoyable ride. The area was full of tourists and we saw all the glitzy shops. This time we took a much later train to Rugby and yet it was full to the brim. In fact some people even had to stand. This time, diagonally across us was a group of four grannies sitting on either sides of a table and playing dumb charades. They were having so much fun...laughing loudly and arguing in good humour that we had fun watching them.

The next day we visited Warwick Castle...but that is the subject of another (much shorter than this) post :)

So I wind up this blogpost for now...till I return with the account of Warwick Castle and some barbecue fun and chocolate fondue indulgence we had the day after Warwick Castle.

Au revoir :)