Saturday, January 17, 2015
Abbey Road, London:
I am back! Yes, I am here again! Exactly 16 months after I departed, this, my favorite city in the world, I have returned like the proverbial bad penny in the late and very dark hours while a chill draped the city like a shroud. I am older, hopefully a bit wiser, and a lot fonder of this capital than I ought to be.
Apart from my baggage, I came towing the last vestiges of a full-blown cold (thanks to Bombay's air pollution) and the remnants of a heightened temperature. Drugged on paracetamol, I stood the journey quite stoically and marveled that my lowered energy levels had climbed enough to enable me to haul baggage about like a pro. A wintry welcome could not dampen my enthusiasm as I strode gamely out of Terminal 5 and followed signs to WH Smith to claim my free Lebara SIM card. Only while every second ad on the British Airways In-Flight Entertainment channel had urged me to pick up my FREE SIM card from the bookstore in the Terminal before leaving, it did not inform me that I needed to request the cabin crew to hand me a free voucher that I would then hand over to the sales clerk to claim my free card. So irritating! Still, I paid the princely sum of 99p for my card, then loaded it with 10 pounds worth of calling time and off I went in search of the Underground. I wasn't going to allow this little annoyance to tamper with my elation even if the weather was reportedly pretty damp outside.
I need not have worried about hauling heavy baggage through the Terminal and on to the Underground train. What an easy connection they have created from Terminal 5 to public transport that whizzes you downtown--sorry, but I'm speaking American from force of habit--I meant to the City Center (or is that Euro-speak?). Anyway, I re-loaded my Oyster card with unlimited rides in Zones 1 and 2 for the next one week and I was off and away. The Piccadilly Line Tube was empty, but for airport passengers till about Hammersmith when the Saturday night hordes thronged the cars.
I alighted at Green Park, found an elevator that sped me to the Jubilee Line connection. One long tunnel to cross (not such a tough task) and I was in another elevator and ready to board the train for another three stops to St. John's Wood from where I hopped into a taxi that practically pulled up as I emerged from the station and dropped me at my doorstep. It couldn't have been an easier journey.
London is cold but I was happy to be out in the fresh air after 9 plus hours in a steel tube 38,000 feet about mean sea level. Although, mind you, I spent the time without feeling the slightest bit sleepy and watched four great films in-flight: My Old Lady (with Maggie Smith, Kristin-Scott Thomas and Kevin Kine, set in Paris--how can you go wrong?), The Rewrite (with Hugh Grant and Marissa Tomei--a chicflic that is redeemed only by the very watchable Grant and the always delightful Tomei), The Riot Club (set in Oxford, another favorite city in the world, and based on the play Posh). It was powerful, chilling and deeply disturbing and a true must-see. And finally, I watched A Most Wanted Man with Phillip Seymour Hoffman--didn't get to the end as it was time to alight, but it was riveting.
My friends Raquel and Chris and their darling son Jonas gave me a warm welcome and over hot lemony tea, we caught up briefly. Adrenaline kept doing its thing--and I remained awake and alert although I thought I would be in Zombie Land as it was 2.00 am back in India. I kept thinking how fortunate I was to have found a home again in this grand and very gorgeous Victorian apartment with its spacious rooms and very English detailing. Located at the most famous crosswalk in the world on Abbey Road, I had spent part of a summer here once expecting to see John, Paul, George and Ringo stride across every time I popped onto the balcony that overlooks this spot right across historic Abbey Studios.
I got connected with wifi, informed folks around the world that I had arrived safely and prepared for the morrow. Despite falling asleep at 10.00 pm and having, as I mentioned no sleep en route, I was wide awake at 2. 30 am (8.00 am in Bombay from where I have travelled). Adrenaline is a powerful thing!
Until Tomorrow which promises to be fun-filled and eventful... cheerio All and thanks for following my Blog once again!