Sunday, March 8, 2009

FIRST STAY IN U.K. - MY IMPRESSIONS

I have flown through London Heathrow on a number of occasions on my trips to North America, but have never stopped over in U.K. This is my first stay in the U.K. and I had been looking forward to visit this country so as to get a feel of this country. Well I got my chance this time, as I was required to do a two week course at a village named Tattenhall in Cheshire county from 02 Mar 09 to 13 Mar 09. I flew in by Emirates from Bangalore to Manchester via Dubai. The flights were good, but I couldn't help but notice the deterioration in the Emirates experience - could the hiring of more local population as cabin crew be the reason?? - am not too sure, but will confirm on my return trip.

Saw Slum Dog Millionaire on the way from Dubai to Manchester - I had read a number of reviews of this film in the blog world and was thus very keen to watch the film in a theatre with my wife, but could not let up the opportunity to watch it on my personal console during the flight. I found that the film was very artistically made with flashbacks and may have depicted a factual and ugly face of India which has hurt the sensibilities of many Indians who live in a different world in the same country....I too am a part of these Indians......I know this exists but I donot believe this to be a part of my India...well, whether I like it or not, this is a part of my India....Having said that, I also need to add that India has many other faces too and many of them are really captivating. Those faces have been captured by more knowledgeable channels like National Geographic, History and other TV channels.
I do wish though that we can do something about our ugly side rather than live in a make believe world that it does not exist. Now about my stay.

I am staying at Carriages Bed and Breakfast at the village. The place is comfortable without too much extra fuss thrown in. I do have a wi-fi connection and that is how I keep myself updated with the blog world and am uploading this post. I do not have too much spare time during the week and thus have not been able to blog as much as I would have liked to. In this past week I have experienced what I had read about in my school days, and later, about the English weather - cold, wet, fickle, ever changing, windy, bright sunshine and then hail in a matter of minutes. I wake up to see frost every moring with a bright sun shining.. when I go out, I can feel the cold seep in through my ear lobes, my lips and the tip of my nose...it is still close to zero in the morning - the wind adds to the chill. By the time I reach the work place it is already overcast and dark - this has happened nearly every day.

View through my bedroom window
Mother nature is trying to find her greener side in the face of this weather, and everyone seems to be getting fed up with the cold and leafless countryside. The grass is thrusting out of the soil and the birds come chirping out when the sun is out. I went for a walk this afternoon and could see Daffodils trying to bloom and the violet coloured Crocus flowers in full bloom - these really look beautiful and welcoming in this weather... I can now visualise what William Wordsworth must have felt when he wrote the poem "Daffodils".

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils".

Crocus flowers in bloom
I finally got some time to myself at 4 pm on Friday and thus took a ride with a colleague to Birmingham to meet up with Prerna and Sanjeev over the weekend. The car ride was interesting... I got to see the countryside and also enjoyed riding on narrow, but well marked country roads. My stay at Birmingham was good and I enjoyed the hospitality of Prerna and Sanjeev. They both went out of there way to make me comfortable and I did feel very pampered. Yesterday, they took me out to the City centre and Broadway street and I got to see the Birmingham museum, the canal walk with the boat rides and boat restaurants in the centre of the city on the canals running through the centre of the city. It was my first experience at this sort of thing. Sanjeev told me that people live in such boats on these canals too. I was reminded of Srinagar and the shikaras and house boats there. Prerna tried her hand at making 'besan poodas' this morning for the first time. They came out very well - congratulations Prerna on experimenting with something new.


Took the train from Birmingham to Chester.. the ride was good, saw a lot of the open countryside and was just hoping that I had come here in May...that same countryside would have looked beautiful. Took a cab back to the village and then walked down to the "Village Indian" - the only Indian restaurant in this village, to have lunch.

The restaurant is owned by a Bangla Deshi and the waiter was Bangla Deshi too - Saha. We got talking and he told me a very fascinating conversation he had had with a white person about, "which country does he belong to?" He said, "I come from Bangla Desh, my father from Pakistan and my grand father from India". He told me that the white person found it difficult to understand this. I realised that his grandfather was born before partition and independence in the then British India, his father was born after partition in the then Pakistan and he was born after December 1971 - only South Asians can understand this without explanations. The Indian food turned out to be such only in name - Saha confessed that it was what the white's liked........too much garlic, onions, turmeric and every other masala with oil liberally thrown in. I can still smell garlic on my breath. In UK, donot attempt Indian food, if you actually want to eat Indian food....treat it like a new experience in South Asian food.

I would now like to say good bye until next weekend, when I would be heading back home and uploading some more impressions about the UK, and so until next week...Good bye and keep blogging.

15 comments:

Indyeah said...

That was abeautiful glimpse of a country quite charming from what I recall from Enid blytons:))

and one would never have been able to guess that England is as cold as all that with the sun shining like that in your first pic:))

the flowers look beatiful..have to say that your photography skills are good too ...to capture the scene just so..:)


''He said, "I come from Bangla Desh, my father from Pakistan and my grand father from India". He told me that the white person found it difficult to understand this. I realised that his grandfather was born before partition and independence in the then British India, his father was born after partition in the then Pakistan and he was born after December 1971 - only South Asians can understand this without explanations.''

thank you for sharing this..:)made me smile ..indeed only we can understand this..:)

lol@garlic and other things..:D

warm wishes...hope you have a wonderful stay..:)as you already are having:)

may we get to see many more wonderful pictures of that place..:)

J P Joshi said...

Indyeah: When do you sleep? Now that you mention Enid Blyton.. I too am reminded of my younger days when my favourites were Enid Blyton and Biggles...Yes, am in that country watching the same countryside, as was described in those evergreen books of yester years.

Thank you.. this weather is playing spoil sport otherwise I could have actually gone around this village and around.

Piper .. said...

what a beautiful post! I wonder if you`re staying anywhere near Lake District,Sir? If you are, do visit Grasmere. Its beautiful and you`ll see the perfect english countryside. I did a post on it last summer, when I was visiting. Do post some more updates on your trip. Looks like you`re having a great time!

Renu said...

Very enjoyable post and i love reading about places and locals.
About the food I am surprised, because we went there in 79 and at that time London was like second home for us as far food was concerned, I still remember , all our friends said that they ate gulabjamun and bhindi and all, as they were all at that time living in France and there leave aside the food they hardly got even.
Indian ingredients:)

Ordinary Guy said...

best of luck sir...:)
it was a great photo...

have a great time and thanks for letting us know about the indian food...:)

Nagesh said...

Dear Sir,
Have a Nice time!

Indyeah said...

LOL!:D
I am a night bird usually...and stay up really late and need very little sleep:)

Smita said...

wow!!! That's a lovely view....

Hope u have a nice time :-)

BTW I too saw SDM yesterday, somehow wasn't as impressed, It was a usual bollywood movie made by a foreigner...

Usha Pisharody said...

:) Charming post, and so much of the first hand experience is transferred so well to the reader :)

Loved the part of the Daffodils..!

J P Joshi said...

Piper: Thank you. I am staying a little South of the Lake districts. This place is beautiful too but the weather is too cold and I don't have enough daylight hours free to go around. The name Tattenhall village is derived from a word implying meadow. The owner of my B&B joint owns race horses and a large tract of land and so do most people living here. The village is village only in name - it has everything that a town has.

J P Joshi said...

Renu: Like you, I too like to visit and see what makes people different even when they have so much in common. Indian food or curries are the in thing in UK now - even this small village has an Indian restaurant, so you can imagine.

J P Joshi said...

Un OG: Thank you for your comment.

Nagesh: Thank you.

Indyeah: Good for you AND for all the blogs that you visit and leave your comments on.

Smita: I enjoyed the artistic way in which he has used the flash back for the answer to each of the questions, rather than a straight narrative. The movie is a little too much for us, as it actually jolts us out of our comfort zones.

Usha: Thank you. Our English teacher in school could go and on about the Daffodils - it never made sense then, but now when you see the context and place in which it was written, it makes sense. The blooming of the daffodils is a sign of spring, and they pretty much grow wild here - they look beautiful.

Usha Pisharody said...

I understand entirely how that English Teacher felt too...
Few poems have moved me the way Daffodils have, and once a student brought back to school, after a holiday in the UK, an album full of photographs, most of them golden daffodils growing in the wild there.
To say it was beautiful is not saying how filling that sight, and the feelings that came with it were!

Anrosh said...

i have a friend who is pakistani - but was born in bangladesh ( he is in his 4o's - he said 7 generation ago they were from the generation of rajputs who converted into islam.
his wife is an american ( having english and german ancestors )
http://thetwentysecondline.blogspot.com/2007/06/world-citizen.html

J P Joshi said...

Usha: "To say it was beautiful is not saying how filling that sight, and the feelings that came with it were!". I got some more photographs of the daffodils, and the place and context, in my post yesterday. I am certain you would enjoy them, although the photographs donot do justice to the beauty of that flower in the season and the barren surroundings in which it blossoms. The poem now starts making sense to a NON poetically inclined person like me too.

Anrosh: When one fills up the OCI card application, one gets all these combinations of nationality that are so typically South Asian and are based on our evolution as a nation. They can only make sense to some one born in this region. Of course, now people are mostly world citizens and I would not be very surprised if we one day have a United Nations passport for all citizens.?!