Prashant writes interesting things, You read it. (hopefully, otherwise I'm talking to myself as usual)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Cheer up", said the beggar

Funny thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago whilst walking around London. As myself and a couple of others walked past a beggar, he said "Cheer up".

At once we looked around, and as for myself really felt silly. Too bad it took a homeless person to put our lives in perspective, how often do we all walk around with stern, stressed looks? From his perspective, he must always wonder what our fuss is all about, and on occasion, probably feels he is better off.

In my first job out of university, there was a shopping mall which was nearby, and was the usual lunchtime hangout. I noticed early on office folk walking around there as though the weight of the world was on their shoulders, whereas I walked around looking quite relaxed.

I guess that's what made me notice the difference, for now it seems I too am one of the stressed ones. Put it down as one of those moments which puts life in perspective.

"Create No More Pain in the Present.

The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life…Yes, we need the mind as well as time to function in this world, but there comes a point where they take over our lives, and this is where dysfunction, pain, and sorrow set in." (Eckhart Tolle)

Categories: :LifeLessons:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

We Are Londoners

Walking around Oxford Street today, noticed some really large banners titled "We are Londoners". When I got home, I did some research and found that it is part of a "We are Londoners, We are One" campaign managed by the Mayor of London.

From their website:

The 'We are Londoners, We are One' campaign celebrates the fact that London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It is one of the things that makes it a great city to live in and visit.

The campaign follows on from the successful 'Seven million Londoners, one London' campaign launched after the events of 7 July 2005. Hundreds of thousands of posters, stickers and badges were sent out to Londoners as part of the campaign, showing that the people of the capital were proud to be part of a united city.

Interesting idea, I wonder how much support it really has in the community? I haven't seen any bumper stickers on cars or people wearing T-shirts in support...

Categories: :InLondon:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Simply Creative

Came across this video on YouTube - time lapse of the Reno Balloon Race 2006. Often the simplest ideas are the most creative.

Filed under: :OnTheWeb: :Photography:

Monday, September 04, 2006

The real underground map

As we all know, the published underground diagram (not really a map) is not in any way geographically accurate. So if you're interested in seeing the tube lines overlayed on a real map, check out the historical images on this site.

This website has quite and interesting and colourful history of published and scanned in underground maps.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Starbucking in London

Its inescapable. Around central London, there are Starbucks coffee shops everywhere. But for a coffee snob like me, do they make the grade? And how do rival chains fare?

Within a few weeks of arriving in London, I was meeting a friend at a pub. He said it's across the road from a Starbucks. Neither of us realised that using a Starbucks as a reference point in London was a really bad idea. The confusion arose as the Starbucks he meant was another 100m down the road.

Coming from Australia, this was a complete surprise. Whilst Starbucks did enter the market about 5 years ago, they are in no way on every street corner. Partly this is because other chains (like Gloria Jeans) had already established a pretty healthy presence in the major cities (Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane). And partly because the café scene in Sydney had reached a turning point around the same time with the explosion of small coffee shops and coffee carts. (And more recently coffee vans doing circuits around business districts).

I for one was not disappointed by this development, because the Starbucks coffee in Australia was horrible. Any form of espresso based coffee drink should leave a pleasant after taste; after a Starbucks drink in Sydney, I wanted to wash my mouth out to get rid of the aftertaste.

However since arriving here, I have had to bow to the cravings inside me and go to Starbucks for a coffee, as often there has been no alternative. To my surprise, the Starbucks in London is much better than that in Sydney (But still not brilliant). They must use a different blend, although on inspection their beans are still over-roasted (They are almost black-burnt in appearance).

And so again today I went into Starbucks, and ordered a macchiato with some milk, no foam. (This is the best way I can describe what I like - I haven't found a standard name for it yet. It usually involves gesturing with my hand to indicate I only want to very small amount of milk. Even though in Starbucks the smallest size is "Tall".)

Much to my surprise the coffee was very pleasant. It was exactly like I ordered it, wasn't too bitter - which means it wasn't over extracted as usual, and had a very pleasing after taste. Now it could be that I have set my expectations sufficiently low that I was surprised by this outcome, and maybe I got lucky with the Barista on duty; the only way to find out is go back tomorrow.

Like in Australia, I have found the other established chains more palatable. In London, that alternative seems to be "Costa" which makes all sorts of claims about being of Italian origin. Surprisingly, the coffee doesn't usually disappoint, so I usually go for them over Starbucks or anyone else.

But after today I might be using Starbucks as more than just a toilet stop…

Categories: :InLondon: :Coffee:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

For the love of dogs

They do love their dogs in the UK. This is quite a surprise since in such high density living, I wouldn't have expected it.

I first realised this when inspecting apartments for rent during our first few weeks here. As the agents showed us around, a couple of the apartments had cats in them, and others smelt as though they might as well have.

Then there are the owners taking their dogs out for a walk. I don't want to deprive people of their pets, but as a result the inner city is full of dog droppings - everywhere! It is quite disgusting, especially since the owners allow their pets to defecate anywhere and everywhere on the footpath.

I don't know if it is the case in the UK, but in other parts of the world, the owners are generally responsible for cleaning up afterwards. This distinguished honour is left here to the street cleaners.

Unfortunately on a bad day the space outside our front door can be quite a sight when you add the overflowing rubbish bins - another thing that takes getting used to!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You know when you're not in the US when ...

In suburban London I saw a sight yesterday which I could only categorize as "You know you're not in the US when...".

Walking down my local high street, an unmarked police car pulled over a couple of pretty dodgy looking people in a flash car. (No, they weren't black - this is an issue in London). A policewoman casually got out of her car, approached the driver side window of the car in front and asked "You alright mate?" (If by alright she meant "Have you guys just stolen this car?" then, the answer was Yes)

Obviously, things weren't "alright" and at this point I was faced with a conflict. Part of me wanted to hang around and watch, the other part wanted to run. Run because I had just witnessed the most casual display of policing in my life.

Even in Australia the police would be more cautious. These guys looked mean, and both these police officers were risking harm to themselves, and in my opinion others by their casual approach.

The incident is in stark contrast to how in a society where a lot of people have guns, the police would have acted very differently. So I'm thankful we're not in such a society, but still when a few minutes later I saw police cars rushing to the scene, I was very happy I wasn't still there.

Categories: :InLondon:

A very different kind of Yoga workout

I passed a Bikram Yoga centre yesterday, and was immediately curious. Like most other forms of exercise, my practice of Yoga is infrequent. This is not because I don't like it, but quite simply I don't have time for it.

The Yoga "asanas" taught to me by my grandmother take between 35 - 45 minutes to complete, and sad but true, I don't have that kind of time every morning. I've tried everything, from trying to do set aside time on alternate days, etc., but I have yet to find a routine.

Worse is the fact that whilst doing Yoga, my mind is not relaxed, and I am not focused. My brain sees Yoga as quiet time - compared to the rest of my day - therefore all the clutter which is floating around in RAM comes to the surface. This is not a bad thing to happen everyday, just that it is bad timing during my Yoga workout.

But anyway, back to my original point. I like trying things once - and was therefore determined to give Bikram Yoga a try.

However this plan has stalled. After some research I have found some aspects of Bikram Yoga that I don't find appealing. (And I'm not talking about the legal wrangling between the founder and the rest of the world)

My reservation is around the fact that it is performed in a room heated to 105°F (40.5°C)! In a hot summer - it is definitely not appealing to go from hot outside to hot inside!

So I will try it, but just not at the moment...

Categories: Cat.Leisure