December 12, 2016, Monday: London
A Day Spent Mainly Packing:
Awaking by 7. 30 am in Maida Vale I used my phone to catch up with Twitter and email. It was not long before I washed, showered, got dressed and left to spend the entire morning at my office at NYU. I stopped at Burger King at Tottenham Court Road to pick up a breakfast sandwich and coffee and fortifying myself with this meal, I made my way to my office at Bedford Square.
In four days, I would be leaving for India where I would be spending 5 weeks. I was uncertain exactly what I should pack as the cool season (I cannot call it winter) is so mild that the kind of clothes one would wear in the UK in the summer would be just fine. On the other hand, the evenings can be cool and a couple of cardigans would not be out of place. I also had a bunch of shopping to do and since I had checked on the net and found out that I could take only one suitcase to India, I had such a hard time moving things from one suitcase to the next and weighing as I went along. My intention was to leave one suitcase in the premises of NYU and carry one of my suitcases to India. With Christmas shopping for family members, goodies such as Christmas puddings, Quality Street and Celebrations chocolates, lots of packets of powdered soups, a large fruit cake from M&S, packets of biscuits and other goodies taking space among my clothing, it took a great deal of ingenuity for me to try to finesse my packing in the most practical way.
Off for Lunch with a New Friend:
At 1.00 pm, I had a lunch appointment with a new friend I have made, Devika. She had suggested we meet at a South Indian restaurant called Chettinad that was right off Tottenham Court Road. It took me five minutes to walk from my office to the restaurant and I reached about ten minutes before Devika arrived.
We decided to have the Lunch Special which provided rice, a non-vegetarian (chicken) curry, a dal, a dry vegetable, a dosa stuffed with potatoes and a serving of raita. Everything was delicious and Devika and I had a lovely long catch-up on a number of aspects about our lives as we got to know each other better.
It was about 3.00 pm when Devika and I left the restaurant and made our way to Victoria where I had to keep my next appointment. We hopped into a bus as I intended to get to M&S to pick up a pair of shoes before my appointment...but as the bus crept along Oxford Street that was jammed with holiday shoppers, I changed my mind and decided to keep shoe-shopping for the next day.
Tea with a Friend at Victoria:
I had made plans to meet my friend Reshma at the lobby of the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria as the station is too crowded. It had also begun drizzling...so Reshma was grateful to have to wait indoors. I arrived at the scheduled hour and we had a very affectionate reunion. She is the mother of a student I once taught--and, funnily enough, we have become good friends. Reshma had spent quite a long time in India and was not around in London for most of my stay. It was, therefore, a pleasure to be able to spend an evening with her.
We returned to Café Rouge which was the same place in which we had tea the last time we had met. Over decaff tea and a caffe latte, we had a long catch-up and had a lot to discuss.
But a couple of hours later, it was time for us to part company. Reshma saw me into a bus that took me to the Tube stop and from there, I went home after a day filled with practicalities and the company of good friends.
Until tomorrow, cheerio...