India at the London Olympics


London 2012 has been the best Olympics ever for India. With a total of six medals – two silver and four bronze – India has put its best foot forward this Olympics. Why am I, a non-sports enthusiast blogging about this? Well, this last week has been a very proud one for me.  As an Indian student in London I have had some very special moments this Games when my country bettered its records and gave me a reason to walk with my head held high.

Biggest ever Indian contingent at the Olympics 2012

I have seen the stupendous support and sponsorship that the British home team has received in the lead up to ‘the Games’ as it is called here. In addition to the world class training facilities, this kind of support and fanfare has gone a long way in ensuring success for the team. When I juxtapose this with the kind of luke-warm response India gives for any sport other than cricket, it doubles the respect I have for the Indian athletes who pursued and gave their best shot at various non-cricket sports. These athletes who are pretty much overshadowed by the cricket craze gripping India making it neglect its own national game, have given me a reason to stop and think what cricket and its commercialisation has done to Indian sports! A couple of articles I found that voice my thoughts on the subject.  Cricket, Cricket, Cricket! Why? , How cricket has killed other forms of sport , Why Just Cricket?

This post is a dedication to all those athletes who represented India at the Olympic Games and the six who won even in the face of inconsistent judging and bias.

Gagan Narang_Men’s 10m Air rifle bronze medallist

Mary Kom_Women’s 51 Kg boxing Bronze medallist

Vijaykumar_Men’s 25m rapid fire silver medallist

Saina Nehwal_Badminton Women’s singles Bronze medallist

Yogeshwar Dutt_Men’s 60kg Freestyle wrestling Bronze medallist

Sushil Kumar_Men’s 66 Kg Freestyle wrestling silver medallist

And a pic of the cute little mascots, Wenlock & Mandeville in Diary milk chocolate to celebrate the victory 😀 (and they tasted yum).

Wenlock & Mandeville

It has been an amazing experience to be here in London during the Games and watch the lead up to it and the whole event up close and personal. When I made the decision to take a year and a half of sabbatical from work and move to the UK for a Writing degree this was something I had not considered but now that I have seen the Games in its entirety, I can only say Woah… What an experience! 🙂 I was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. 🙂

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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.

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.