Back to blog, Amy Winehouse style!


Well well… long time no see. 😀  I have been away three and a half months from this page that I call my own in this big scary World Wide Web, but now that I have returned, it feels great, the way you feel when you come home. So my dear readers (who might have long since forgotten me) rest assured that this time I am back for good. I have completed ten great months in London, finished two semesters of my Masters degree, well under way on my dissertation, I have a new job to speak of and just a few hours short of hitting a life event (more of that later). So I am all set to rant away till the sun sets. :p

First about the blog title…Amy Winehouse style indeed! Let me just say that I am bad at giving titles and Amy Winehouse crooning Back to Black in her deep voice  just put me back in the mood to channel my thoughts into words. So here…I dedicate this blog to the joy and hope her amazing lyrics have given me and other newbie writers.

That done, let me tell you about what I have been doing all this while I was not blogging (or watching TV or simply lazing around :p). Ahhh don’t worry I will tell the story in pictures. 😀

Road tripping through Scotland happened.

Breath-taking Scotland!

This the kind of terrain we drove through. Real test of driving skills 😀

History, great hospitality & a beautiful land- the perfect recipe for an unforgettable holiday!

and a trip to Manchester

Old Trafford, Manchester United stadium

Manchester as seen from Cloud 23, the 23rd floor skyline bar

and York

The ancient York city walls

York as seen from the York minster tower

Old railway ads in the National Railway museum in York. They even had some of the first railway coaches.

Medieval house still used as The Merchant Guild Hall. York is dripping with history and architecture like this, Norman forts, Georgian houses and even Viking remains I learned.

and Bath

A street in Bath. Charming and well worth its UNESCO world heritage site title is all can say about this beautiful city. Quick fact, Bladud the legendary King and father of King Lear was supposed to have been cured of Leprosy after bathing in the hot springs in Bath following which he founded the city of Bath long forgotten after the Roman times in Britain

Royal Crescent the Georgian novelty houses turned hotels and museum

The Roman Bath complex housing the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from the Roman Bath

Natural Hot spring water gushing out of a spring overflow built by the ancient Romans to feed the different Baths in the complex

and Stonehenge

I finally visited the site and stared in awe and reverence while friends made fun of me! :/

The beautiful countryside near Stonehenge

Great Portland station- the oldest underground station in London. It was like I was transported back to 1900.

and Thorpe park

Colossus, the record breaking twisted 10 loop roller coaster

As if the Colossus wasn’t twisted enough, there was the Swarm. Seriously crazy ride. Thought I was a goner!

Ahhh getting drenched on a blistering hot day on the Tidal Wave. Heaven.

not to mention The Olympics

At the Opening ceremony rehearsal. I still can’t believe I was there!

(All the Olympic photos credit go to my friend Jodie and the Scotland & Manchester trip photos to Pooja, Hitesh, Umar & Vishnu. :))

An AWESOME performance!

The Indian touch. Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture at the Olympic Park. Proud but still don’t understand it. :p

It has been an exciting summer here in Kingston and as I write, I hear the cheers resounding in the air for the Olympics Women’s cycling road race that is under way. Cyclists cruise through this town as residents gather around pubs and all along the route to cheer and blow horns, wave flags and show the cyclists support on their six hour long strenuous race. I did my part for the Men’s road race yesterday but feel too lazy today to move my butt to step outside into the rain and cheer. So I am showing my support by waving from my kitchen. Yes that’s right the cyclists cruise past my compound. 😀

Ok…the photo is the product of lazy zooming in amidst rain from my kitchen. See if you can spot the cyclists.

Anyway am saving  all my energy for my five hour shift at work tomorrow and I have no intention of standing there braving the cold. Yessss the sun is missing from the English summer or at least it is this year, as a British friend carefully explained to me. Supposedly the sun is a limited edition item even in summer here. Yeah all those shorts gone waste!

And we finally arrive at the topic of the major life event. 😀 J 😀

I turn 25 tomorrow! A quarter of a life well lived and I thank the person above for making these years as joyful as it has been and hope I continue to be showered with more blessings. Anyhoo at least now on I can blame all my confusions and crazy behaviour on Quarter life crisis and Pop! I have opened the champagne. 😀

You might also be interested in London through my eyes and Bangalore to London 2.

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London through my eyes


I write this post while looking out of my window at the beautiful sight of snow falling and listening to the not-so-desirable screams of over-excited girls having a snow fight. Anyway to get on with it…I am done with the snow fights and too frozen to the bones to venture outside. So here I am sitting and blogging about my dearest memories of London…

London at first sight

London is one city that blows me away. The more I try to understand, the more it beckons to me with fresh mysteries. Coming from unpredictable, impulsive India, I was first dumbstruck by the order and conformation to rules around the city. A tad bit boring I know 😀 but it’s amazing to watch the systematic flow of traffic with absence of honking and the single file columns on the tube station escalators ( strictly on the right hand side leaving space on the left for the ones in a hurry who march up/down like ants scurrying to a hole – makes me want to tap their shoulders and ask “What’s the big hurry?”).

Read on for a peek into London through my eyes…mostly photographs but you can expect some commentary side-by-side. :p

Big Ben against The London Eye

For those of you with no idea what the Big Ben and The London Eye are (I had no idea about the Eye & vague ideas about Big Ben until I moved to London) here is a crash course:- Big Ben is the nickname of the clock tower bell close to the Parliament houses and it is one of the most famous landmarks in London. If my ‘London walk’ guide is to be believed, it was nicknamed Big Ben because the bloke who was commissioned to build it was a big fella. Moving on to The London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel, one of the tallest in the world on which wide-eyed tourists take a merry ride lasting a loong time while they look at the city spread below.

Too many sculptures I say…!

I also can’t help but remark about the optimum use of historical structures and tourist destinations by the Government. It makes me bug-eyed about the potential India has if the Government decides to take it seriously. I could dare say London has some of the most well maintained historical structures and museums in the world. Add to it the fact that most of the museums and art galleries have no entry fee and you have the perfect cocktail of tourist and local footfalls.

Hampton Court Palace, dated early 1500’s, stands tall & proud till date

I am a history buff and it does not help that am a romantic too. So there you go…I have set myself the not-so-difficult task of visiting every palace/ fort in London. I have so far covered the most publicised ones and will work my way down to the not-so-popular ones over the summer. It sure is an amazingly good pastime to explore chambers where Kings & Queens lived while imagining the pomp and splendour of the olden days.

Tower of London. Let the looks not fool you…this is where the Kohinoor sits caged in a British crown

White Tower built by William The Conqueror in the Tower of London

There were times as a kid when I used to wonder if I would ever get to see the London Sherlock Holmes lived in (I had thought he was real 😀 ) or Charles Dickens’ characters relived. In a way I have but there is a mammoth difference between Dickens’ London and present day London of course. 🙂

It is one of my favourite pastimes to visit landmarks/ buildings connected to the literary characters I hold dear.

The contrast between the old and the new worlds is evident.

Street art: Fallen Telephone boxes, Kingston upon Thames

I have also taken a liking towards visiting sites where popular movies were shot. Try guessing in which movie(s) the locales in the two pictures below figure.

If you were able to guess then bingo you are a genius if not…then you are more of a human being. Ok here’s the answer, these two almost unrecognisable locales figure in different Harry Potter movies. The first picture is the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron (the blue telephone box like building entrance; it is actually an optical shop) and the second is Leadenhall market which is where Diagon Alley was shot. I know this sounds childish, but I actually went on a paid Harry Potter walk and saw the sites above and Ministry of Magic, Gringotts, Platform 9 3/4 etc…

The picture below was taken on a cold windy day from a wobbly bridge called the Millenium Bridge, close to the school where Daniel Radcliffe studied and where a Death eater attack scene of the movie was shot. (This is lame I know…!)

St Paul’s Cathedral as seen from The Millenium Bridge

Oh and I should mention about the Theatre scene in London. One term to describe it: ‘It takes my breath away’. I knew I could not go wrong with Phantom of the Opera, and sure enough, I was captivated. Then of course came the more earthly musicals like Mama Mia! 😀 (I enjoyed theatre in dear old India too but it’s so different here.)

I am not a person who is into art and architecture, but this city has some cannot-ignore buildings that leave me with a gaping mouth.

London Gherkin against St Mary Axe, the egg shaped skyscraper against an Old church. It is built on the site of a historic building destroyed in a WW bombing

The inside-out Llyods Building where every utility feature like stairs, lifts, heating etc are on the outside

Btw did I mention about the cities within London city? Guess not…so here goes…London comprises of two cities: The City of London (the ancient city with the forts etc & today the Financial district) and The City of Westminster (the present day Civil admn hotspot with the Parliament Houses and so on). The City of London is interesting for its choice of logo I thought. It still has the old (retarded looking) dragons of the days of Ye Olde Londinium. (It’s not just the Chinese who believed in dragons in those days.)

If you thought I was already too taken in with the sights and sounds of London, figure this!

Candies on sale at Winter Wonderland, the annual winter fair at Hyde Park

And this…

Mad shopping among mad crowds at Oxford street on Boxing day

And of course, I did the tried and tested ‘tourist tour’ of London aka the landmarks where tourists stand and get their pictures clicked for the benefit of their bug-eyed folks at home (and to post on FB of course…).

Parliament Houses

Horse Guards Parade

Westminster Abbey

Here’s an interesting fact. The horseman in the picture of Trafalgar Square below is Charles II, the only King in Britain’s history to be tried and executed for a tiff-off with the church (and some other politics). He was hanged in public and he supposedly wore two shirts during the hanging to not let his subjects see him shivering. His son was eventually restored to the throne and all ended well. But in the memory of this ‘sad’ event Big Ben has a black dot on its face at the minute when he was hanged. The statue in the picture below was also erected at the exact centre of London with every measurement of distance leading off from his statue (supposedly).

Trafalgar Square: Site of the Olympics countdown clock and location for large public gatherings in the city

So here’s to the end of this post (my first blog post corresponding to a travelogue). A picture of swans sleeping on the Thames. 🙂

Sleeping Beauties

and the picture of the event that made me jump around like a March hare. 😀 (Pssst…my first Snow experience.)

Enchanted forest? No…the campus woods after the first snow of the year

You may also like Back to blog Amy Winehouse style , Bangalore to London 2 and Midnight in London.

Bangalore to London 2


Four months after moving to Kingston it has finally dawned on me to blog about my ‘first impressions’ in this London borough by the Thames. (Am a whatever! I know…) As the prologue has already reached my readers, (those of you who have read the post Bangalore to London would know what I am talking about) it is but natural that the story should continue. So here goes…my usual commentary with some pictures all from my first week in Kingston. 😀

 I arrived in Kingston bent with approximately 50 Kgs of luggage on a Saturday night on the 24th of September. I had never crossed the Indian border before, let alone set foot in the UK and I had no idea how I would locate the University Halls of Residence or whom I would call if I did not find it. Luckily I found a black cab at the airport, the famous taxis of London driven by know-all-the routes drivers and the cabbie after much consultation of maps and discussions with colleagues over the radio managed to put me on the doorstep of the Halls in record time and without any haggling. I was already smitten by London and the town of Kingston.

I had been expecting to walk into a cold, drab, colourless, hateful town and I was naturally taken aback by the greenery, beauty and the order around me. I am a hardcore Indian by heart but I should admit I felt…relief! Clean and green just as I liked it and add some order to it (orderly traffic, neat roads, no haphazard parking or crammed rows of buildings) and I am sure to fall head over heels in love with any place that could boast of these three things. Maybe it’s the effect of growing up in a little, unpolluted town or maybe the effect of living in an overpopulated, chaotic city for the last three years, but the result was there to see.  I loved Kingston and I was ready to ignore the absence of rainbow colours of an Indian city. The weather did not bother me too. It was still summery in September and I felt at home.

The moment I checked in and was shown to my flat I crashed out. It was like in a Tinkle story- the traveller who arrives someplace after a tiresome journey to find a nice little room and immediately he pulls out a sheet from his bag and crashes out. Well that’s exactly what I did. I was knocked out flat flat for more than ten hours and when I opened my eyes it was nearly ten the next morning. I showered, called up family and decided to go out for breakfast and explore the town. But not in my wildest dreams was I prepared for the ‘adventure’ that day.

I met a flatmate and following her instructions walked to the bus stop nearby. If the previous night I was smitten, then that morning I was madly in love with the place. My Halls are in a campus called Kingston Hill and though I did not see any hill nearby, it did not take me long to realise that the campus was a conserved area, bordered with woods and teeming with squirrels and birds. I walked with a spring in my step to the bus stop and waited for a bus, got into a trademark red double-deck when it arrived and only then realised that I did not have change to pay. All I had were notes of 50£ denominations and just as expected the driver exclaimed ‘50 pounds?!’ when I presented it to him. I got out of the bus red-faced and decided to walk instead. I had been told the town centre was a 20-25 minute walk away and I trudged along taking in the fresh morning air. That’s when I started getting a creepy feeling down my neck. Something did not feel right. I kept walking but I was not sure if I was going the right way and that’s when it hit me. There was nobody on the street to ask directions…not one soul!! Nearly eleven on a Sunday morning and the main road in town was deserted. I almost freaked out…was there a curfew of some kind or something that had happened in the town I wondered. But I was not sure and hurried past closed storefronts and houses with no signs of inhabitation. There weren’t even any vehicles on the streets, only buses and a few bicycles.

Then I came into the town centre and finally saw some human beings… It felt like I had come out of the theatre after watching a spooky movie. 😀  I was plain stupid and had not realised that people took weekends seriously here. I found a sandwich bar and bought some coffee and breakfast and as I sat eating on a bench in the town square I saw people slowly emerging, first in ones or twos, then in crowds, women pushing buggies (prams), children skipping about, men with families… I could see the town literally ‘coming to life’. And then I heard the music, a violin playing and I went after it…following the sound around the square till I found a street musician playing in front of the mall and people stopping to listen to him… That did the magic. It all felt strange and I was still homesick but I had been won over.

Then on it has been a rollercoaster ride. There have been the lows when people have been rude to me, when I had problems catching the English accent, when I had to go through the tedious (for weird old me) process of making friends etc etc but there have also been the highs such as the pure pleasure of learning new things every day, the kick I get out of exploring London, the peace in the mornings while I wake up to the strumming of a guitar etc etc. It’s nice to be a student again and it’s nice to have all the time in the world to do what I want to do- write.

Sometimes I do ask myself whether I did the right thing in quitting a well paying job, spending a ton of money for a ‘phoren’ degree and coming to live in a strange country amid strange people. But then I remember this saying (Audrey Hepburn’s I guess) “The most important thing is to enjoy your life, to be happy, it’s all that matters.” As long as I am happy with what I am doing, I guess am doing it right and that’s all that matters while I take life one step at a time.

Bangalore to London


You only get scared of the giant wheel till you are on it, after that it’s a fun ride you will never forget

Well, well…this is evidently a long pending post that is almost four months late. But I should say it’s in time to greet the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Anyway, after much procrastination and some tough decisions (like deciding not to make my blog a travel diary) I have moved my lazy ass to sit down and write a post for ‘2012’.

First things first, I am not writing from Bangalore, the city which was my home for the last three years and which drove me so damn nuts that I created a blog diary The Color Purple (which thou art reading at the moment) to share my inner most depressed thoughts with the unsuspecting public. :p I am also not writing from my family home in the little beach town Udupi on the west coast of Karnataka where I spent the first 21 years of my life and took refuge from the madness of the world now and then. I am writing from Kingston upon Thames, a borough of London in the far away island of United Kingdom.

I am no longer a workaholic Public Relations professional or a financially independent ‘Fire-brand’. I am a student dependent on parents for pocket money. I no longer live in a cramped rented 1BHK house in Bangalore with a half crazy roommate, filling my lungs with nicotine while pounding out blogs and stories to de-stress. I am writing sitting in my own cubby hole of a study-bedroom with no way of filling my lungs with nico while I write for fear of setting off the fire alarm. I no longer write to de-stress, instead I write full time as apart of my Creative Writing course.  How life changes doesn’t it?

Flashback to January 2011. Overworked. Stressed out. Neurotic. Grumpy. Depressed. You get the drift. That’s when this great idea finally crossed my mind. I thought, “why not go back to University and complete my education? How about doing my Post-grad? I could do with a break right? I had to get that all-day-smile my friends oh so missed back on my face”. It sounded like a great plan and the research began over Kingfisher-Strong powered late night online sessions. A plan emerged, only to be cut short by the family astrologer (to whom my well meaning mother relays every event in our lives) who said I should drop any such plans. After much motherly emotional drama- which every Indian mother worth her salt would approve of- I decided to drop the plan. Well family comes first right?

February and March zipped by and I continued with the banal existence. Then the heavens opened up and sent me a divine message. It was April and I was in the middle of a lead-up meeting to the annual review session at work, sitting across my Boss and was fielding some googlies meant to see how ready I was to take on more responsibility when I was asked this oh-so-irritating question, “Where do you see yourself 10 years from now”? And guess what happened? First time in the three years in that company I was tongue-tied. I did not know what the heck I should answer. No I did not want more responsibility, not even a promotion or a raise. I wanted to be as far away from the profession as possible, I wanted to do something I had lately realised I was born to do. I wanted to write. God It was such a revelation! And that is when I changed my mind. Astrologer or no astrologer, I was going to write full time and I was going to fine tune my writing with a Post-Grad writing degree. The rest was not so easy but eventually it did fall in place. TG!

Strange are the ways of the world. The two people who propped me up through the next few months of mad applying to Universities, arranging finances, battling chicken pox and emotional meltdowns were my mum and my Dad. My Amma’s motherly love overtook beliefs in astrology and she decided to trust in God and help me through the last-minute-applying madness. So here I am, a Science group student who did an Undergrad degree in Journalism (thinking it was her true calling till she actually got into a newsroom and hated it), who stumbled upon Public Relations by chance and put in three years of her life trying to like it and finally was enlightened belatedly that all the while what she thought was a hobby was indeed her passion. WRITING, the ever-so-slippery eel of a calling that dawns on so many people so late in life. (I have a few 50+ year olds in my class and many in their post 30’s.)

So now that I know what I want to do in life am I happy? Well…let me put it this way: – I can’t complain. LOL 😀 I don’t work long hours (though I am hunting for a part-time job), I get to write whatever I want to, whenever I want to, I am writing a novel which is much loved in class, I get to meet some great people and explore a whole new culture that is Britain, I intend to travel through Europe and am getting to learn and do things that I never thought I would. (Aww my…my…that’s an awfully long sentence.) So you see I can’t complain. 😀

All said and done there is something to following your passion. (Amir Khan might have tried hard to convey this message in 3 Idiots but I don’t see any change in the ‘IT world aspiring robots’ of our country.) Following your passion can put a smile back on your face,  bring lightness to your steps, gives you a sunshine attitude that rubs off on people around you and a purpose in life. And money, you ask? Well I don’t know, but if we are happy with what we are doing we will figure out the money part somehow isn’t it? At least, that’s what I think and I want to give my belief a chance. Right or wrong, time alone can tell. After all like a wise guy once said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”