We went to London and took a boat trip to Greenwich on the
day England beat Denmark 3-0. Over there, we had pizza
which had generous helpings of curry powder on it... don't know why. Then we
went to Trafalgar Square and saw
the English football fans who didnít have the money to go to Japan
celebrate near Nelson's column. The next day, we went to the Tower of London and saw
the HUGE Kohinoor diamond which once adorned Maharaja Ranjit
Singh's turban. We also changed the guards at BuckinghamPalace because
they were wilting in the summer heat, and saw two musicals... The Full Monty (taubatauba!!) and Bombay Dreams (the Bollywood
inspired, AR Rahman composed Andrew
Lloyd Webber produced show that ain't all that
good). And we also went to St.
Paul's Cathedral and climbed all the
way to the top to get panoramic views of London.
Then we hired a car, and drove (Vix) and
drove (Sabs) and drove (Vinoo)
and navigated (Anjani). The best thing to do with a
car is to buy a map book to help navigate your way. In addition, try to plan
your trip and travel times in advance by visiting the Automobile Association website.
We first went to Bath via Stonehenge.
At Stonehenge, we followed DeepikaDidi's (that's my cousin
who visited the UK just before we did)
advice and saved valuable pounds by not purchasing tickets and bribing the
doorman to let us in by whispering the code word (which happened to be "Egroup e yellasaa activity maadbaeda!!"). Just kidding.Bath is basically one large tub where people have been
coming to become clean for the last several centuries. The town was kinda re-architectured in the
1700s and escaped subsequent remodernisation projects
because the local junta never could afford paying for them. Consequently, it is
now a place where tourists like us throng by the 3 million every year... and is
wonderful to walk around and take a look at. We stayed at a farm about 15
minutes from Bath that night... and
had the fresh smell of gobar and dung to wake us up
in the morning. Now, for city-bred folks like Sabs (Bangalore) and Anji (Delhi) that was a novelty.
Not so much for Bihar / Jharkhand-brought-up-goons likeVinoo and me though. From Bath, we drove to Oxford...
all of us can now casually slip the statement "I went to Oxford..."
in our social conversations. Oxford is another charming
town with students all over. The highlight of Oxford was the wonderful mediterranean restaurant we had dinner at... Anji and Sabs liked the food very
much. Vinoo and I liked the waitresses... Uskebaad, we did
a walking tour with a 70 year old guide who kinda matched the antique
surrounds and showed us around Exeter College and Christ Church College. We also saw the place from where Alice in Wonderland was
written and also from where JRR Tolkien lorded and
fellowshipped with the rings. An interesting custom in Oxford is for students
appearing in their final exams to wear their full academic robes for the
examination (i guess the logic was that since they
were not sure whether they'll pass and get to the graduation ceremony, they
might as well get a feel for what it is like to wear a robe). They also put a
rose bud on their robe on exam day - I guess the logic for that is that if the
girl next to them in the exam room helps them with the answers to some
questions, they can reciprocate instantly with a flower. btw,
we were in Oxford when England lost to Brazil.
best part of going to the UK in summer was the
daylight hours... sunrise at , sunset at ... this gave us a lot
of bonus time and we used it to full advantage driving from place to place.
Oxford, we drove to Windermere which is in the Lake District in North West England. In
doing so, we took the road that skirted Birmingham, Liverpool (Way to go, Liverpool!!)
and Manchester (Booo,
United!!). The Lake District is thus called because it
has... yes, hold your breaths, 4 lakes in that whole state (which is more than
the rest of country could manage to put together. However, in terms of having a
good time over there, we didn't. For one, its too much
like a Shimla or Nainital...
over-exploited (though very clean) and not all that much to offer beyond a
point. But William Wordsworth the poet was from this region and we went to his
cottage so that the poetess amongst us, Anji (she's
won global awards for poetry), could get some inspiration and wax eloquent from
then on... we figured this could be the only way our family could lay any
claims to intellectual prowess of any kind.