Wednesday, May 14, 2008
But, here is something that I saw the next day, which could have been hilarious (or we could have been thrown out) (Courtesy XKCD, my favorite web comic)
(Click on the picture for a bigger version)
When Navin and I were in Brazil in Dec 2006 - Jan 2007, we met these 2 british girls in Ilya Grande. They were staying in the same pousada as us.
Of course, Navin fell deeply in love with one of them. Only because falling in love with both of them would have been a little impractical.
We first saw Gemma walking down from the pousada to the beach.
Navin : "Wow ! she is one hot woman !"
Me: "Yeah Dude !"
Navin: "Be careful with where your thoughts wander. She is your future sister-in-law !"
Anyway, we got to know them better, and discovered that they were a riot. Spent 3 days with them ( inc many sessions of "two truths and a lie", fish with passionfruit sauce, and one instance of being chucked out from a karaoke place). And promised to meet them in Bahia again after a week.
Madhu was with us by that time, and we again had a blast there. Except for the time when Navin was developing hives. (the girls were supposed to arrive that evening, and he did not want to be seen in that condition). We went to the Bonfim Church, where you tie ribbons around your wrist and make a wish. You are not supposed to untie it, and when it falls off on its own (rotting away), your wishes are supposed to come true.
Becky asked us all to make a wish on her behalf - that she would find a life partner. We did. I will not comment on who all kept their ribbons as long as possible, but suffice to say that the wish did come true, and we heard that Becky was getting married on the 3rd of May.
(There are many a story from that trip, but I will leave that to some other time)
So, that is how we landed up in London, to attend Becky's wedding.
Back to the Present.
Madhu and I landed on Friday, the 2nd. Me at around 6 PM. Navin had us booked at the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool St (nothing but the best for his buddies !) Religiously following the directions on the hotel website, I took a cab from Paddington, spending an extra 20 pounds and 20 minutes than I needed to. Navin, Noura, Leon and Madhu were already there. We had some beer in the local pub, and started discussing plans for the evening. Navin and Noura volunteered to go get some smokes (wink wink) while the rest of us tried to look for a spot for the evening.
We walked down the street, stopping at many a pub (and patronizing all of them - we are not very discriminating in that sense). Ate at a shawarma place. Basically spent about 2 hrs wandering around. When Navin and Noura came back with the stuff (bless their souls), we decided to go to this one place called " " (I am blanking out here .. someone please fill me up on this). Bar downstairs, dance floor upstairs. Basically a remodeled old pump factory. We smoked some in one of the shadiest allies around, and basically chilled out till about 3 in the morning. And then back to the hotel, where I had the dubious honor of having to sleep in the middle of the bed between Madhu and Leon. Not a night that I will want to repeat in a hurry. And oh .. BTW .. we realized that the wedding is next morning. In Sussex (which according to Leon was a small town you could walk across in 10 mins. He meant Essex). At around noon. And we have NO clue on how to get there. But thats ok .. we will figure out in the morning.
It was I (yes .. ladies and gentlemen .. believe that) who woke up the earliest next morning. Not being able to sleep between two other people had nothing to do with it - it was a sense of responsibility that made me do it. I coaxed Madhu into taking some action. We found out that Madhu DID have an email detailing the times and places. We were supposed to reach Cowden, Kent at 1.30, not Sussex at 12.00. A big relief. The travel desk told us that there was a train which would get us there in time.
Navin had been making some inquiries on his own. Like trying to hire a car that would take us there and back (for only about 400 of the Queen's dearest sterling). And he had then proceeded to get the train timings also. For Sussex. This was sounding more and more like a scene from "Four weddings and a funeral".
We did manage to get to the station on time. I bought the tickets (OK ... I did ask for tickets to Kent, not knowing that it is a county, not a city, but Madhu quickly came to the rescue). And, dressed in our Sunday finery, we reached Cowden, Kent. We got off from the train (there were only the 4 of us who got off there), and started walking out to get a cab (surely, there are always cabs outside the station).
For anyone who has not been to these quaint english hamlets, they are indeed so. Including the sleepy little railway station, and no cabs. Was a surprise for us too. All we saw were these 2 matronly ladies in a mini-van. We bid them a fair day, and asked how one might proceed to the local church. Its a nice walk, they said. About half an hour. I think our dropping faces incited one of them to politely offer us a ride, which we promptly accepted. She was a bit taken aback, for I assume that in english countrysides, there is an etiquette about this, which i guess involves a couple of "Please dont bother" and "No bother at all". We fit in the minivan (which i think was rigged for carrying sheep at that point), and the kind soul dropped us off at the village church.
The actual rendezvous point was a small pub about 5 mins from the church (I was beginning to like the Brits already. What an idea .. get some liquid courage before stepping into the house of God). We ordered some Cider (we had discovered this wonderful drink just the previous night) and proceeded to occupy a table in the amazing weather outside. Met some aunts etc, but were basically looking for some privacy to light up. Which we did at the end, when the rest of the wedding party had been shepherded to the church. So we did enter the church in a state of grace, feeling a bit closer to God.
The ceremony proceeded well (with me trying to sing along to "Amazing Grace" in a nice baritone, and getting evil eyes from the relatives). Whenceforth we proceeded in a coach to Sussex for the reception.
The reception was at Becky's sister's house, which at some point used to be Winston Churchill's residence. Suitably awed, we proceeded to toast the occasion with some champagne, and then some more, and then some Guinness + champagne combo. Chatted with friends and relatives, mingled in good society, stealthily snuck off for a refresher on the smoke in the shadows of Winston Churchill's one time barn.
Dinner was quite nice. Gemma sat on our table, as did some more interesting folks. I held a long conversation with this one couple on marriage, children, freedom of expression, choices in life, and a myriad other topics. I think it went well. Atleast the couple did not stand up and walk away. Till the dinner ended, atleast.
Much wine was drunk. But by this time we were getting a little anxious about making our way back to London. Gemma (what a nice woman !) made the necessary arrangements, and ordered a cab to the station. We went out to the street - No cab. 5 mins pass. Nada. This was one of the lonesome country roads that have been sung about, and nary a vehicle was in sight in any direction. Finally a car came along. We stopped it, and even though it was not our cab, we convinced the driver to drop us off at the station.
He dropped us at the WRONG station. But, no worries, we did catch the train. Made it to London. Went out dancing again with Leon and his chick friends from the Indian YMCA (yes) in London. But that is another story (or not).
(all picture credits go to Noura)