Category Archives: London Journal

Pubs and Ale of London

Ale being served...

Here comes your ale…

I don’t enjoy alcohol. I dislike the taste of beer. Smell of whiskey makes me vomit. Same with jaand, raksi, tongba, chhyang and aanila (which I unsuccessfully tried to drink in a Newari restaurant in Kirtipur just before Dasain in October). That being a detailed disclaimer and me being a bahun ko chhoro who shouldn’t be touching all these dirty things (!! 😉 ), let alone drink or try to drink, here I present a series of photos from various pubs of London where I drank a lot of ale and beer (again taste was horrible).

A friend had suggested to find the difference of taste between ale and lagar. I heeded the suggestion. Not sure if I could find any but it was all fun. Got almost drunk. That was all part of my ‘see and feel London’ efforts. Also, I wanted to post this entry. In the process, I learned a thing or two about the role of pubs in British life (like how they bring communities together etc). Talked to a few random people who were consuming a lot of alcohol. Some of them were dancing and others were singing (see the video). Continue reading

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Buses of London

Kathmandu

Kathmandu

बस बाहिरका मान्छेहरू

….त म त्यो साँझ घर फर्किरहेको थिएँ, गाडी बिछट्टै प्याक थियो। एउटा स्टपमा मानिसहरू ओर्लिंदै थिए, छतबाट पनि एक तन्नेरी झर्दैथियो। छतमै पनि भीड भएकाले ऊ भर्‍याङबाट होइन बीचैबाट ओर्लिंदै थियो। कसोकसो उसको खुट्टो झ्यालमै नअडिएर झ्यालसँगैको सिटमा बसेका एकजना अधबैंसेको मुखमा जोतिन पुग्यो। ‘थुइक्क,’ ती अधबैंसेले चुक अमिलो आएझैं अनुहार पार्दै मुखमा छिरेको हिलो निकाल्न खोजे। तिनले हतारमै सर्टको बाहुलाले ओठ र मैले देखें, जिब्रो पनि पुछ्न खोजे। बाहुलामा खैरो–कालो धब्बा बस्यो तर तिनको मुखबाट हिलो सबै गएन। तिनी ओ हेनरीको कुनै अतिव्यंग्यात्मक कथाको एउटा पीडित पात्रजस्तै थिए। विडम्बना उनको मुखमा जुत्ता पुर्‍याउने युवकलाई ती अधबैंसेको हबिगतको पत्तोसम्म थिएन। ऊ आफैं संघर्ष गर्दै जसोतसो छतबाट झरेर अँध्यारोमा घरतिर लम्किसकेको थियो। पाँच मिनेट पछि पनि ती अधबैंसे जिब्रो निकाल्दै, ओठ चलाउँदै, मुख पूरै बिगार्दै झयालबाहिर थुक्दै थिए। तिनको अनुहार म प्रस्ट पढ्न सक्थें– तिनी सिटमा बसेर गरेको यात्राप्रति खुबै पश्चाताप गरिरहेका छन्।
                                                      (कान्तिपुर कोसेली 2008/08/23)

I wrote that article four years ago. The situation hasn’t changed a bit. Two days ago an impromptu afternoon strike in Kathmandu (and elsewhere in Nepal) forced people to commute in the same pathetic condition that I describe in the article. In all these years we have seen tall promises made (and never fulfilled), new men heading one government after another (and delivering nothing but disappointment). Things remain same. Buses continue to be crowded and dangerously unsafe to travel for women (and men). This city lacks infrastructures that make a city a city. In fact I don’t feel comfortable to call Kathmandu a city. It’s a mess as portrayed in the article above.

When you have lived in a mess for most of your life, the sight of anything that is functional and working makes you amazed. But one doesn’t have to be a citizen of a third world country and its capital city to notice the excellent infrastructure of the city that has hosted Olympics three times. So if I say here that London has everything and most of those things are in order that statement will be totally influenced by my experience with Kathmandu. With such statements, I’ll be unknowingly comparing Kathmandu with London which is not the point of this entry. Continue reading

Streets of London

Why? Don't be a dumb. No, I didn't talk to them.

Why? Don’t be a dumb. No, I didn’t talk to them.

What do you do when visit a new place? You take loads of pictures. That’s what I did in London and other parts of the UK. These are some of the most photographed places on earth. But why should that fact stop you from taking more pics? For a tourist, there could more than one reason to click a picture. I have tried to mention some of those reasons as caption of these images.

Most of these 83 photos are from central London. One ‘prominent’ photographic object that is missing in this album is the ubiquitous red telephone box. Tourists smile from inside these boxes for cameras when they are in London (or other parts of the UK). I went all the way up to the hills of Scotland to the ‘telephone box photography’. Continue reading

A Chance Encounter in London and Some Brave Bald Heads

I was walking aimlessly on Whitehall (road that separates blocks of important British government offices) heading towards Northumberland Avenue. I spotted a young man who was standing on the pavement underneath a huge building on my left and smoking. I felt like I recognized him. Turned out that I had met him recently in Kathmandu. Taken aback by this chance encounter, he concluded: “The world is small.” I agreed. (This jamkabhet reminded me of this article that enjoyed reading and translated into Nepali for readers of Kantipur.)

I had been warned of the London cold before I arrived here. Despite all the warnings and my mental preparation, I found the chill a bit more harsh and unexpected. At one point, I started shivering. I was wearing clothes that would have produced a Thames of sweats from my body in Kathmandu. Not in London. I needed to be warm. So I entered into an eatery that sold fruits and sandwiches. I bought what I wanted and as I approached the pay counter I realized that ‘eating inside’ was slightly costlier than taking food away. The charge for warmth. I chose to pay the premium.

Talking about the cold, what surprised me was the sight of some men walking with their bald heads exposed. Some women were wearing skirts. But a lot of other men and women were wearing a lot of clothes (thick jackets, overcoats, huge mufflers and gloves). But those baldheaded men and skirt-wearing women helped me understand why some of my British friends never find Kathmandu weather cold enough to wear warm clothes. They (and other Westerners in general) wear only shirts and shorts while I and other Nepalis bundle ourselves into endless layers of warm clothes and still complain how cold Kathmandu had become. Today’s walk around the city of Westminster also made me understand why a British friend of mine, while having lunch on a sunny January day in a restaurant in Kathmandu, said that he felt like calling his friends back in UK right at that moment to describe about the 20 degrees Celsius “warm and excellent” weather of the Nepali capital.

A few days back when a close friend of mine saw photos of British toddlers in Kathmandu, their heads uncovered in January cold, her the comment was: Hamro Nepali ko bachha lai ta luga ma gutumutu napare chisole marchhan vanthanchhan babuaama. Hera yi kuireka bachha lai, jado nai vako chhaina!

Nice observation! That explains why Goras feel less cold in Kathmandu then average Gorkhes like me. They are born and brought up in a much colder environment than many Nepalis are. Bachhai dekhi London (or other parts of the UK) ko chiso khana thalepachi k jado hos Kathmandu ko ghamailo winter ma.

By the way, another sight that almost got me a mild heart attack today was that of people drinking chilled Coca-Cola out in the cold. (On my part, I went for a bottle of ‘this water’, advertised as ‘a juice drink blended with pure squeezed juices and spring water’.)

I have experienced and written about unbearable heat of Delhi in summer. I feel London in winter is exactly the opposite. These are the places that consume a lot of energy- to keep houses and shops cool or warm. When you see this there is no way you can forget the 12-hour long power cuts of Kathmandu.