Minimalist Experiences

The Train Ride

Taking the London Overground service from Clapham to Whitechapel, as people got on and off the train at their stations, 1 thing remained common – Mobile Phones! Everyone was chained to their phones, modern day slavery, mostly looking down, staring at their enslaving screens, the rest with their earphones plugged in. Glad to see one person break the oneness, she happened to be reading a book!

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Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Remember when you were young… well, Pink Floyd never gets old. Sitting at my desk at home, working, auto-playing music in the background. Then “Shine on you crazy diamond” comes on, and that moment takes me someplace else. Isn’t this bliss? I take a break while it plays, just to listen.

Shine on you Crazy Diamond

I Had A Dream

I had a dream last night, or maybe this morning, I am not sure. It was an interesting one, so much so that I made a mental note when I thought I was half awake that I would have to write about it when I am out of bed and had had a cup of coffee. It really was that interesting. Now I sit down to write about it, I have no recollection whatsoever of it, none. I recall it being as clear as a bell. Or was the dream just about me having a dream and going to write about it?

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As I lay there…

A long drive later, to come up to this place, a wonder, I must say. We had arrived at the hot water beach in the Coromandel Coast. Rented a spade, dug a pool that had already been dug to make more room and then later acquired a much larger pool, one of the largest ones in the beach. And as I lay there, the warm water, the cold beach on one side, the mountains and bushes on the other, I realised I could lay there and be at peace. The world could have been at war, I was in peace, in peace with myself, in a world of my own.

Hot Water Beach

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Saraswati Puja, Chance Encounters and Delays – My trip back to London

22nd January 2018 was the date. It was the end of my holidays, I dreaded this day, it meant I had to go back to work after over a month of relaxation. I didn’t take a month off, this being just post the Christmas Holiday season, I didn’t have much work then and when the world returned from their holidays, I decided to take mine. No, it wasn’t some sinister planning I had put into play, just the timing. Bihu at home meant much more to me than Christmas.

Coming back to the day I was writing about – it was Saraswati Puja, an Indian festival dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom/knowledge. In Guwahati, it is a big celebration wherein all school kids dress up and go about. The girls drape themselves in Saris and the lads try and be as fashionable as possible trying to impress them girls. Now, I had to get to the airport and due to the festival, the streets were going to be packed. So, to catch my flight to Delhi at 3:30 PM, I decided to leave home by 12 Noon and take the National Highway which goes around the city and to the airport, a lot longer but would be faster due to less traffic than having to go through the city and make my way through the crowded streets/roads and traffic. Boy, was I wrong! The highway wasn’t empty either, we kept inching towards our destination at snail’s pace. Mum was freaking out, she was pretty sure I was going to miss the flight, I had thoughts running through my head – Is there another flight I can book if I miss this one? What if this was the only flight to Delhi today? There should be other flights. I don’t have to bother about my connecting flight to London from Delhi as it is at 2:30 AM, there would be plenty of flights to get there before then. My brother was the one who kept his cool and kept joking the whole way, keeping the tense atmosphere in the car at bay.  

We managed to reach the airport just in time, said my goodbyes and headed in, go to the Check – In counter and then, funnily enough, the flight was delayed by 2 HOURS!!! So, now I get to sit in the airport for 2 hours, doing nothing, just people watching. Only after I reached London, I saw the text stating that the flight was delayed, I wasn’t using my phone back in India, so I never knew. I sat there, plugged in my earphones, listening to the limited music I had on my phone, music I hadn’t listened to in ages – thanks to Spotify and YouTube.

People watching was the best thing I could do to pass the time, there wasn’t much else. I was done browsing through the books in the little book store. It felt good to see quite a few backpackers at the airport, Northeast India was always a backpacker’s and adventurer’s paradise, but was only now getting discovered by the rest of the country. My eyes shifting from one person to the next, making observations in my head and jumping to my own conclusions about the person, assuming backstories etc., my eyes then shifted to this person walking towards the direction where I was seated. In one glance, I saw who he was, but surprisingly, not many people realised. Walking towards me was Papon, quite a celebrity by now. He had become a household name nationwide gaining popularity due to his contributions to Bollywood and also in the folk music scene. I wasn’t awestruck, no. I had seen him earlier in concert, this time it was different. He felt like one of the crowd, just any other person. Don’t get me wrong, almost all of us Assamese people love him, his music. The term Axomiya Pride may be more apt here. I think I have something with this airport and Assamese celebrities – the last time I was at Guwahati Airport, I saw Joi Barua, another Assamese singer who is also doing well in Bollywood.

Finally, it was time to board the aeroplane. I made my way patiently to the boarding gate and beyond. I had already booked my seat almost a month back and so was able to get a seat right in front, well, the second row. I looked out the window, it was getting dark. I could feel a tinge of emotions, I was leaving my home till what could possibly be another year. My train of thought was broken by a conversation that happened to fall on my ear, I looked up. Another chance encounter! This time it was a politician, an union minister who had come to inaugurate/ participate in a Silk Convention.

He was interesting. I was now paying attention to what he was saying, there were a few people flocking to either have a word or introduce themselves to him. They worked for the government, weren’t local. You could tell they had come to Guwahati not to visit, but for some official purpose.  At the end of my trip, I couldn’t tell if he was really the nice, down-to-earth person he seemed to be or was just too good a politician but he for sure, wasn’t the politician that is showcased in every Indian (doesn’t matter which language, they always are the same) movie, the antagonist. The only thing that made him look remotely like them was his dress, he wore Khadi but given that he was there for a textile convention, it seemed appropriate. One of the people who came up to him happened to go to the same school he did, that led him to reminisce on how they used to take a shared taxi to get to school. He wasn’t one of those born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he belonged to a middle class Indian family, like most of us in the sub-continent. It was time to be seated, a member of his entourage asked him to take a seat in one of the Business Class seats that were reserved, which he promptly refused and sat down in the seat in front of me in Economy. Was it him trying to show the public he was one with them or was it how he was? If I were him, I would have seated myself in Business Class without a second thought. It could’ve been the fear Social Media has put in him/them, where now everyone has the chance to judge or even make mountains out of molehills. I don’t mind if it helps keeping things in check.

The flight to Delhi was 2 hours, 10 minutes long, we were nearly there now. It was about 2 hours into the flight when there was a PA Announcement. More delays! There was too much air traffic in Delhi and so the Air Traffic Control set the landing time to an hour later. So, as we flew around in circles above Delhi for an hour, it was clearly visible as to why it was one of the most polluted cities in the world. You could see the layer of smog, static, above it like a protector, but only doing harm. My 2 hour long flight was now 3 hours long, glad we didn’t run out of fuel mid-air. Guess they prepare for things like this. 🙂

The rest of my journey was mostly uneventful! Made it to London with no issues.

The Thames Path – Walk 1

Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge

It was Boxing Day 2016 and I was longing to see the city and what better way to do it than walking along the Thames? This was my first walk and to motivate myself, it had to be one with the good sights. I chose to walk the South Bank starting at Lambeth Bridge all the way to Tower Bridge which is roughly a 5 km walk. It was a slow one, for starters because I was admiring London at night as I went along and I managed to stop at a few pubs along the way. 🙂

I must apologise for the really poor photography here as all I had was a shitty smartphone camera to work with.. (I am not a good photographer either :p )

It starts off with Westminster Palace across the river and the Big Ben at the backdrop and the Westminster Bridge all in sight.

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Continuing along the south bank, we go past the London Eye and then approach the Waterloo Bridge. Walking on the south bank can never get boring with the buskers in the South Bank. On reaching Gabriel’s Wharf, you get to see few Fire Jugglers on the bank. I spend some time over there watching them play around. The OXO Tower is just up ahead.

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The OXO Tower and Blackfriars Bridge

After this as I continue my walk, crossing the Blackfriars Bridge, I approach the Millennium Bridge standing on which you get a straight view of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe is right there as well.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge

My next stop was the Anchor Pub, which is one of the ancient historic pubs of London. After a couple of pints, I continue my walk towards London Bridge and the HMS Belfast.

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HMS Belfast

There is a beautiful, well lit Christmas tree outside the City Hall. From there I reach the end of my walk as I go to the Tower Bridge and then walk back to London Bridge to take a bus back home.

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Tower Bridge
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The Walkie Talkie, Gherkin and the Tower of London
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City Hall & The Shard

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