London. Dawn. The morning after arriving. It feels good to be back. It feels really good to be back. A pleasant flight with decent food which you can see on the updated photos in Plane Food. A whizz thru immigration at London and, as promised by Willie Walsh, our bags had arrived on the conveyer belt before we arrived to collect them. An irritating taxi ride to the apartment where we stopped at every signal from Hammer Smith to George Street, a quick unpack and a dash to the pub.
It’s cold, the temperatures hover near the freezing mark. Not weather for thermals, but delightfully cold. Breath mists as you breathe. Such a thrill for us Bombay wallahs. Crowded pubs, because of the cold no one is outside except the diehard smokers. A Pint of Guinness for me and HRH the Queen, strangely, ordered a beer rather than the usual Cider. Anyway, grabbed a stool and drank. It was great to be back. Soon, our Friend Philosopher and Guide [FPG] arrived. He has been my guide on all things British ever since I met him in the very early 1990’s. He now guides HRH the Queen on many matters of vital importance, such as `where is Stratford?’. East London is the answer for those who want to know. Another round of pints followed.
Speaking about pints, a small point to be noted. In Britain, a pint is 20 fluid ounces or 570 ml. In the USA a pint is 16 fluid ounces or 475 ml. In India, that is Bharat, a small bottle of beer is called a pint which is 330 ml. Do not ask me why or how we started to call this a pint. All pubs, and there are many, have standard pint glasses by which a customer has to know if the pint he asked for is indeed a pint, the full 570 ml. Thus, the glasses are marked showing how much is a pint. So sensible. I must say that a vast proportion of the beer sold in pubs is on tap so this marking is necessary unlike in India where most beer is sold in bottles.
A quick dinner at Black and Blue, a London based hamburger and steak chain. A notch above the usual fast food stuff. Good, satisfying and tasty. A beef burger with bacon and cheese.
As I type, it’s morning. Silence all around. No cars honking, no crows cawing, no vendors shouting `ANJEER, ANJEERWALLA’ or `DHAAAR WALLA’ or `PAAPLET’. Just quiet. Last night, despite the crowd at the pub, everyone waits to be served, change is readily given by the barmaids, personal space is respected, thank yous are the norm and no mobile phones ring. My blood pressure is coming down. I am feeling more relaxed, more calm, more at ease. It will take a day or two more to lose the Bombay aggression.
It does feel good to be back.