Tuesday, December 05, 2006
my first visit to london was in 1979 when i was 35 years old.it was also my first trip abroad.my company had sponsored me for a management development programme at cambridge.i was in the uk for about 8 weeks and frequently shuttled between cambridge and london and later between birmingham and london.london fascinated me beyond measure and since then i have been visiting london on business a couple of times a year every year.london is an exotic place to travel to and it casts a miraculous spell on you.
this time there was an added reason and motivation to visit london. l and h had moved to london from new york last year and were planning to return to india soon.i spent about six days in two phases and thoroughly enjoyed my stay.when you live in an area so centrally located like south kensington, you have all the big shops at arm's length and the high street kensington tube station within walking distance to take you to any part of london.in london, the transportation is so good that you remain very mobile.i went for many long morning walks to kensington park and hyde park;one almost enveloping into the other.high street kensington is a five minutes' walk from l's home.and then i also travelled on the tube to picadilly and oxford street for more shopping. from picadilly,one evening,i walked down to savile row and admired the small and beautiful tailoring shops some of which have existed from the 1700s.
l and h are great hosts.almost every evening after returning from work we would visit one of their favourite restaurants or pubs. quilon,wagamama,marush,churchillarms and many others.at marush, i enjoyed the meditteranean food;while at quilon(st james court) it was a veg thali and unforgettable avial prepared by the very amiable chef from palghat.
wagamama was like a production line in a factory with hundreds of people coming in and going out in an orderly queue.it was a new eating experience.there was a wide range of items in the menu.each chef has his own workstation.the food is light and spicy.the sitting arrangement is like in a school or college canteen. you sit on benches.the waiter has a computer keypad which send your order directly to the concerned chef.and if you have ordered several dishes you may get them in any order depending on which chef prepares it first.it is a great place for veggies.wagamama is a japanese restaurant chain and there are some 55 of them in the uk.they believe in "positive eating".
churchillarms is an outstanding pub where i had the best thai food in my life.its ambience is out of the world.one of the oldest pubs in london,it has its own special character.one can see large portraits of winston churchill hanging at several places.it is a lively pub throbbing with energy and can really lift your mood.and the thai food is worth walking miles to eat.(one would never have expected to see thai food in a typical british pub)
a day before my departure for india we visited a pub in nottinghill.after a few beers we walked along portobello street.its market is internationally known.and we walked into many shops and also saw the fantastic flea market which is open only on saturdays.and the shops were selling all sorts of antique and secondhand stuff.jewellery,furniture,radios,cameras,bric-a-braq,clothes and food.there were vegetable and fruit produce also on sale in the market on the road.it is supposed to be 300 years old and one of the top ten destinations of tourists who visit london.
on our return, we went to 'melt', a chocolate shop and tasted some exotic chocolates. walking back via kensington palace grounds it was too much of a temptation to resist.a 'dekko' of the 70 million pounds mansion of lakshmi nivas mittal,the steel czar and the second richest man in the uk.
the weather was very pleasant throughout my stay,as it had not turned too cold. there were intermittent showers though.and as they say the weather was typically english!