Category Archives: United Kingdom

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

Edinburgh

This text has been updated. See below for photos and additional text.

Amit the photographer..takes a photo of a tourst at the Edinburgh Castle at the latter's request.

Amit the photographer..takes a photo of a tourst at the Edinburgh Castle at the latter’s request.

People had told me two things about Edinburgh: 1) The place is very beautiful. 2) It is very very cold up there. If you think London is too cold, take a lot of clothes with you if you are going to Edinburgh.

The first piece of information is correct. I admit that the hills are not as tall or big as I had imagined them to be but this place is beautiful and it feels nice to walk around. If these small hills (thumkas not dandas) look bigger than they actually are it could be because they are so close to the sea. Who has seen their reflection on sea water? I think I took more photos here than I took in London.

On second point: weather has been so very kind to me. I arrived here on Wednesday afternoon. Beautiful day, clear skies, great view and it’s so warm yesterday and today that, for the first time since I arrived in the UK, I took my jacket off. I couldn’t have imagined walking on streets of London and York without wearing a jacket. Continue reading

A shop near the Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park with SC on background. Empty tables await speakers and listeners.

An Empty Speakers’ Corner of Hyde Park

Protesters in front of the UK Supreme Court building at Parliament Square, London.

Protesters in front of the UK Supreme Court building at Parliament Square, London.

Protest: For an average Nepali citizen like me understanding the UK’s health care system is challenging. It is ‘complex’. Especially so if I attempt to compare it with our health care system in Nepal which is incredibly simple: Got money? Get treatment. No money? Die (unless your letter to a national daily newspaper begging for donation to transplant kidney touches hearts of some generous readers). One of the problems with our ‘simple and clear’ system is that our government doesn’t have enough money. That’s just a guess. Governments here give money to hospitals so that they can provide free treatment to qualified people. Now, if I understand correctly, national health service is facing cuts. People are not liking it. That’s why they are protesting. I saw one small group of protesters last week at the Parliament Square in London. Peaceful protesters. No shouting and sloganeering. No one was making any speeches.

Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London.

Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, London.

The Venue: Not even at the Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park where I had gone a week earlier to see if someone was talking about some random issues. There were none. The place was empty. That was disappointing.

Tana Sarma describes animating activities that he saw at the Speakers’ Corner in his book Belayattira Baralinda in such a way that the description had remained with me for long when I first read the book during my high school days. A friend who spent 10 years in York and earned a PhD from the University of York before moving to Sweden recently reminded me of the same book just before I left Nepal. I re-read parts of it just before I arrived here. This time I didn’t find the book as interesting as I had found it last time. I was surprised to see that the book was actually written (and detailed events) in the 60s and that it was now one of the many travel books written by Nepalis on Belayat. But I didn’t change my decision to visit Hyde Park and the SC. May be I wanted to write an update to Tana’s version. Continue reading

York

london victoria coach station 1 It was a long drive that involved two buses and a taxi but not as tiring as one would expect given the distance covered (about 330 kilometers). I found the section between Leeds and York particularly enjoyable. One, I was sitting at the upper deck of the double-decker bus (second one, changed at Leeds) with better view of the area I was passing through. Two, window panes were not tinted as they were in previous bus. Three, the atmosphere, I felt, changed for better. More open spaces, reasonable space between two houses, less people on streets and fewer cars on road. Overall, the atmosphere was welcoming and energizing.

london victoria coach station 2

People usually mention or write about things that they find new. For me, seeing ‘gates’, like in airports, in a bus station (London’s Victoria Coach Station) was new. Thus these pictures. I boarded via gate number 18 that didn’t have pigeons sitting on its noticeboard.

More photos of the day and details of what I did in York this evening later.