Heathrow was huge. It was here that I used horizontal escalators for the first time – without them, you might simply die walking.
At Heathrow, I purchased a 7 day travelcard. A travelcard in London is a digital card – like an ATM – and it allows free access to metro / bus / train for the paid duration. All you have to do is swipe it when you board / leave the train / bus. The metro-guy who gave me the card was an Indian. I soon realized – there were Indians, or at least Indian looking folks everywhere. Probably that’s why, even after eight hours of flight, I didn’t feel that far away from home.
Over my three days of stay I have come to realize that when you are new to London, you love to see anything and everything Indian – Bollywood posters, Sehwag playing cricket on TV, Indian restaurants and on and on. Sometimes, it’s enough if there are people who just look like Indians. Later I was to find that most of the attenders at my hotel at Old Street were Indians or Indian-looking as well.
I am sure that every Indian who is used to living in India, realizes something when he starts living in a hotel in London – wiping your ass off with only toilet paper is never quite the same as doing so with unlimited water. 🙂
Also, like every Indian who tours abroad, I do convert everything into rupees before spending money- and hence everything appears rather costly – 120 pounds per day for room is like 10k! 45 pounds for a weeks net connection is like 4k. Bad habit may be, but kya karein, ye pounds vounds apne bus ki nahi hai yaar! The mere fact that one coin is like ninety bucks (INR) seems so funny. It will probably take a week to get used to Pounds.
I roamed in and around Old Street – fultoosh random walking. I needed time to realize that I finally was walking in city of London. London looked just like the way it had looked in movies. You had seen the city landscapes, the city streets etc. so many times in photos and videos and screens; you always knew how London looked like. And yet, when you actually were there, it felt so surreal. After three days, finally it has started to look real.
Every road here has broad footpath – and unlike Chennai they don’t stink of pee. There are litter-bins placed all along the streets and more than that, people use them. London is insanely clean and is a pedestrian’s delight. When you are new here, you just feel like walking all the time. Metros work super efficiently and so do buses. The use of signage is bloody impressive – there hardly ever is any need to ask directions, either on road or in the metro. The funny part is, almost daily I meet at least someone on the road, who asks me for directions – the latest was this girl today who asked me way to the British Museum. The funnier part is, I told her the wrong way (which I came to realize after a while 😛 ).
It’s not really freezing right now but it does get really chilly when it drizzles. Today it kept drizzling all day! Smoking cigarettes in this weather is heavenly – I have been doing it a lot and it’s so worth it – my only company in fact – me and my fag.
After three days of roaming around, walking over Thames through the several bridges that cross the beautiful river, climbing up and down in the British Museum and eating only fast food at KFC’s, McD’s and Subways’ I can say one thing for sure – it doesn’t feel great to do all these things alone. I had no work till today and hence didn’t get a chance to interact with anyone – so no company so far. Thanks to internet, and phone calls from bro, didn’t feel that alone. But slowly, loneliness is itching. There is no one to talk to – no one to share the experience with. Something’s just not right. Let it be that way.