Friday, March 27, 2009

Theater Tickets Galore--including Helen Mirren!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

In one of the busiest days I have had since arriving here in London, I awoke at 5. 45 am and worked almost non-stop at my PC until 5 pm with only two half hour breaks in-between for breakfast and lunch! I had received an email from my friend Blair Williams in New Jersey urging me to submit essays for his forthcoming anthology on The Anglo-Indian Woman and in a burst of creativity, I decided to start drafting an article. This took several hours of my time as I tried to stay within the 3000 word limit. As always, once my thoughts starting flowing on to the computer, it was hard to reign them in . But by mid-day, I was all done and able to turn my attention to other pending tasks.

I had started the morning going online to try to find some theater shows to which I could take Chriselle when she is here in early May. She had suggested Billy Elliot, the Musical (which I have yet to investigate) and Parlor Song at the Almeida Theater in Islington. However, once I started browsing the Web, I realized (much to my horror) that all tickets for Jean Racine's Phedre starring Helen Mirren at the National Theater were already booked solid. How could that be? I wondered. I did not realize that booking had already begun and I had been waiting to receive a mailing from the National Theater (on which mailing list I am) informing me that tickets were on sale.

I was sorely disappointed and just when I started to search the web to find Phedre tickets on E-bay, I decided I might as well book tickets for the very last day of the show--which was the only day remaining--August 1. I got two tickets in the hope that Llew will be here again and will be able to join me at the theater that evening. It will be a treat for the two of us. Well, I did get my tickets and so I am all set to see an actress with whose work I was familiar long before she became an Oscar winner for The Queen. I hope very much that my long-term plans will fall into place--that Llew will be able to come back again in summer (to take me back to the States, as it were) allowing us to enjoy together my last two weeks in this country.

While browsing for theater tickets online, I also managed to find 2 tickets to a show on April 8--the day Llew and I return from Istanbul. This play by Nigerian Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka is called Death and the King's Horseman and at 10 pounds a ticket, I figured I couldn't go wrong. I have always wanted to see a show at the National --was just never able to get tickets to the ones I wanted to see in the past. So I am pleased that Llew will accompany me to see this show.

More surfing on the web got me the information that Duet for One is moving from the Almeida to the West End's Vaudeville Theater. It stars Juliet Stevenson whom I know Chriselle particularly likes--she had played Kiera Knightley's mother in Gurinder Chadha's Bend it like Beckham. I knew that Chriselle would enjoy seeing her on stage far more than seeing Parlor Song. I decided to give her a call later in the day, to seek her preference. Besides, by going to the theater to book tickets I would save on the commission fee and I needed to get out for a walk later in the day, anyway...

I spent the afternoon transcribing the interview I did with Neville Johnston--a task that always takes ages. Once again, I was struck by his unusual life and the twisted paths it has taken and the manner in which he has maintained his equilibrium and his good nature through it all. Just as I started to feel light headed (for a few seconds, the room actually spun around me), I knew I had to take a break--and then my phone rang. It was my friend Bina calling from Harrow to invite me for dinner to her place on Good Friday. I told her that Llew would also be in town at that time and she delightedly included him in the invitation. Bina was my classmate in high school at St. Agnes' in Bombay and my neighbor at the Reserve Bank Colony in Bombay Central as our fathers both worked at the Reserve Bank of India. I have the happiest memories of our teenage years together and over the years, we have stayed very close friends, despite the distance that has separated us. I am looking forward very much to seeing her again--though both Llew and I will be fasting and abstaining from meat on Good Friday and will not be able to do justice to her dinner.

At 5 pm, I showered really late in the day (yes, I barely found the time for a shower yesterday!) and walked to one of my favorite places in London--Stanford's at Covent Garden. This is a travel book shop to which I was introduced by my English friend Janie Yang. It truly is Paradise on Earth for those smitten with wanderlust! I needed to purchase books on Rome and Istanbul for my upcoming trip with Llew and when that was done, I walked towards Charing Cross to get to the Vaudeville Theater to pick up tickets for Duet for One. I was fortunate to get them for the very first day of the show when the cast and crew will be fresh and ready to hit the lights. With all these tickets and stars to look forward to, I felt very pleased indeed.

I walked back home again and discovered that I am walking everywhere after almost six months as I do not have a bus pass. I did not purchase one as I am leaving for a 10 days trip and didn't want it to go to waste. My legs are still not quite OK though they do feel better. I still have pain when I awake and put my feet down on the floor first thing in the morning and I do have aches and pains in different parts of my legs each day. I really do believe that I will have to go in for surgery when I return to the States in August though the medical community here does not believe that I need it. My GP in the States has recommended some really good foot surgeons and I might go through the entire battery of tests (including X-rays) once I get back home as I have not had a single X-ray here and still have no idea whether I have just inflammation or a tear on my plantar. It is really amazing to me how differently medicine is practised in the UK and the USA. I am grateful for the treatments offered by the NHS here but I do believe that I now need to go to the next stage of recovery in the States.

Back home, I proof read the Neville Johnston interview and sent it off to my office for printing. I also found the Vatican Museum website (from the travel book on Rome) and was able to book 2 tickets online for Llew and myself to the Museums and the Sistine Chapel--which means we will not have to stand in those lines that snake around the place---yyesss! I had last been there 22 years ago, long before the restoration of Michaelangelo's ceiling had been undertaken. I am sure it must be just stunning right now and I cannot wait to see it. We have also procured tickets, both for the Papal Audience on Wednesday and for the Pope's Mass on Thursday when he is celebrating the Eucharist with the Youth in remembrance of the death anniversary of Pope John Paul II. All these things to anticipate in Rome makes me joyous and to know that Llewellyn will be here in less than 48 hours and that I will be able to share all this with him is simply beyond belief. I am now counting the hours until I see him again and I know that we will have simply the best time together as we always do on our travels.

Next, I turned to our itinerary and put in all the details regarding how to get from the airports to our hotels and how to plan our days in each city in terms of sight seeing. It was exhausting work and right after I ate the last of my spinach and ricotta filled ravioli in the gorgonzolla sauce that I rustled up the other day, I dropped like a ton of bricks into bed.

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