August 29, 2004
Underground Bhangra

There is one thing about London’s underground system that is really irritating - you sometimes have to walk for ages through a network of tunnel walkways to get from platform to platform if changing from one tube line to another. There is one particular tunnel-walkway at Green Park - which connects the Piccadilly Line and the Jubilee Line. It’s a VERY long, dreary tunnel - which takes around 4 minutes to walk - at a brisk pace. And that’s only if you don’t stuck behind some slow-coach who isn’t walking as fast as you in the narrow sections of the walkway.

Some time ago I took a video of the Route 79 tribe walking down the tunnel from the Piccadilly platform towards the Jubilee platform - and I have tried to liven up the walk with some really infectious bhangra music as the audio dub. The track is one of the most recent hits by Juggy D - called “Sohniye” - and is really popular in the UK Asian bhangra/pop scene at the moment. (And if for a moment you think that this is music from India - think again! This is “British bhangra” - i.e. homegrown - from the heart of Southall in West London!)

I’ve edited the video down to just over 2 minutes - and kept the file size down to around 5.5 Megabytes by encoding it at 320 x 240 pixels and around 300kbps data rate . It should only take a few mins to download if you are on broadband cable or ADSL. It’s a Windows Media Video (WMV) file which should work fine in versions of Windows Media Player greater than version 7.

to download the video file - save to a folder of your choice.
And then double-click on it to play when downloaded.

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Posted by jag at 08:19 PM | Comments (9)
August 28, 2004
Asiana, Cone, Shoe box

Except for the BT ones - all the telephone kiosks in my North-West London neighbourhood are vandalised and non-functional. Instead they are used illigitimately by Asian media companies to promote Asian women’s magazines, concerts or new “Bollywood” film releases. The features on the cover of the following magazine poster caught my attention as I strolled down my high street this morning.

“For the Asian woman who wants more”

Whilst you are reading this posting - why not listen to remix version of “Mujhe Tumse Mohabbat” Hai by Shreya Ghoshal and Shaan from the film “Tumsa Nahin Dekha”. This song is going through a “saturation play” phase on the Club Asia radio channel as well as on B4U Music video channel. Click the play button in the media player to listen - it is encoded at a very low bitrate so even if you are on dialup it should stream fine. If you like it so much that you wish to hear it again - it will play from your computer’s hard disk every subsequent time. Lucky you.

A bit further on down the high street - I notice something strange: there is a traffic cone on top of the bus shelter. I’ve seen a lot of strange things on top of bus shelters in my lifetime - like shoes etc. - but never a traffic cone.

Traffic cone on top of bus shelter.

And talking of shoes - did you know that shoes are recyclable? They most certainly are down my way. You have to make sure you tie them together in pairs - or stick them in a plastic bag - and then drop them through the flap. There is a notice just below the flap which says something like “Danger - do not enter”.

Recycle your shoes.

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Posted by jag at 02:43 PM | Comments (10)
August 25, 2004

Route 79 bus. And not long after - picked up a taxi at Gare Du Nord. As we weaved our way through town - we stop at some traffic lights. Hot and humid outside. Windows down. The stench was unbearable. The sewage of Paris overwhelmed the senses. I stopped for a moment to admire the architecture as viewed from the taxi at the stop-light.

Daydreaming the sights and smells of Paris

(Ignore the error - the comment will still be added - I just haven’t got round to fixing the problem yet)

Posted by jag at 10:55 PM | Comments (5)
August 18, 2004
Little Britain revisited

You may remember that a little while ago I posted an entry in this journal about Little Britian. I referred to it as a rather uninteresting side-street that I encounter on my short walk from the tube station to my office in the City. Well - that was my description when I used to walk right past the part of Little Britain that meets a thoroughfare called St.Martin’s Le Grande - which is the road that leads up to St.Pauls Cathedral from the London Wall.

A few days ago I decided to walk down this street called Little Britain - in order to discover a bit more about it. It turns out that this narrow, ancient street strangely bends and turns and forms a perimeter to the famous St.Bartholomew’s Hospital - which (according to the history books) dates back to the year 1123. This is the only hospital in the ancient City of London - which is now the modern financial district of London. It is quite peculiar to see a busy working hospital made of oddly scattered buildings surrounded by modern office blocks in this area. The hospital has several entrances - each one leading to different faculties and clinics. On Little Britain itself - there are several entrances - one of which catches my attention as I walk past:

One of several entrances to “Barts” hospital - this one at 42-44 Little Britain

If you walk further up Little Britain you will come across the famous Smithfield Market - which is a meat market slap bang in the heart of the City of London. This has been here for over 800 years! The market is one of the oldest markets in London - and was granted official Royal charter in the 13th century. The building that currently accommodates the market is quite spectacular - and was built in Victorian times. It is quite amazing that something of such historic value is a real working environment for traders - and any members of the public can roam freely within it. The architecture is truly magnificent.

The architecture of the roof structure at Smithfield market

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Posted by jag at 10:36 PM | Comments (10)
August 17, 2004

I normally work in beautiful Slough - which is a non-descript town a few miles West of London. This is where my work relocated office to after being based in Hammersmith for a few years. But recently I have been working in “The City”.

Travelling to The City in the mornings involves getting the Jubilee Line tube down to Wembley Park - and then switching to the Metropolitan Line - and then getting off at Farringdon station followed by a short walk to the office near St.Pauls. I love this little walk. There are so many interesting things to see - not least of which is the area around Farringdon Station itself - which is a combination of visual haze and cacophony of life and busy people.

I stepped outside the station the other morning and looked back onto the station entrance. There is a streetseller of punnets of juicy strawberries for one pound a carton - and he’s shouting out loud his bargain buy. I see many people purchasing. I snapped a picture - and very quickly realised that I could stand here all day. Just watching the world go by …

Farringdon Station in The City

Posted by jag at 11:20 PM | Comments (6)
August 16, 2004
I, Robot, VW, Beetle

It’s been a “slow blog” month. Please accept my apologies for lack of original content here. And please accept my apologies in advance for this most unimaginative update too.

The weekend before last I went to see the film “I, Robot” at the Vue Cinema at the O2 Centre on Finchley Road in North London. Personally I thought it was a great film. I haven’t read the book before - but all I can say is that the the film was very predictable, very funny and full of fantastic special effects. It was kind of like a fusion of Bladerunner, The Matrix, The Terminator and Robocop - all in one. Excellent entertainment. My favourite moment was the bit in the film where the NX-5 robot is slicing a cucumber in the kitchen of Will Smith’s mother’s house. That really made me laugh!

Because we decided to watch the first showing on the Sunday morning - we practically had the whole cinema hall to ourselves. I took the following picture in the car park of the O2 Centre afterwards - the solitary VW Beetle car in the background had a very distinctive “I, Robot” feel about it.

VW Beetle in the car park at the O2 Centre Finchley Road - after watching “I, Robot”

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Posted by jag at 10:05 PM | Comments (4)
August 11, 2004
Athens ready ...

Drifting into a semi-concious sleep-state whilst riding the bus in my NorthWest London neighbourhood the other day - I woke up to find myself in Athens. A city readying itself once again for the Olympic Games. Having never been here before - it was difficult to compare the “before and after” situation that this place has presumably been undergoing lately - but it was fascinating nevertheless to (literally) snapshot the current state.

The site of the original modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896

Click on the MORE below to continue …

One thing that was very apparent was the emphasis on security. Greek Police and Army are everywhere.

Soldier guarding hotel in downtown Athens

Private cars have been discouraged (and even banned) from the central area of Athens for the duration of the games - the authorities encouraging the use of the public transport system: metro, trams and buses. All the major road arteries through the centre of town between the Airport, Olympic Village and the new Stadium have got dedicated “Olympic” lanes for “official Olympic traffic”.

Dedicated “Olympic Games” traffic lanes in downtown Athens

The new Olympic Stadium (and associated stadia) are completed and ready - for what promises to be an historic occasion. Although there are still many signs of ongoing construction and city-cleansing all around town.

The brand-new Olympic Stadium

The leader comment editorial of the local Athens newspaper - “Kathimerini” provides a fascinating insight into how Athens and Athenians view themselves, their history and and their responsibilities with regards to these Olympic Games.

Greek media comment on the Olympic Games: of “Concomitant faults and virtues”

The ruins of the magnificent Acropolis proudly presides over this ancient city - providing a most spectacular backdrop to a place that has been - and will forever be - studied by billions of people for many generations to come.

Acropolis by day …

Acropolis by night

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Posted by jag at 10:56 PM | Comments (8)
August 08, 2004
Photo Montage

Spent a little time reorganising my digital picture gallery this afternoon. In doing so I realised that I really like some of the pictures I’ve taken since the beginning of the year. So - decided to collect some of them together into a multimedia musical slide-show montage for some visual aspects of London as seen from my own eyes. Those of you who have loyally followed this journal for at least the last 8 months or so (which is when I got my latest wonderful digital stills camera) will recognise some of the pictures from previous entries - but I’ve thrown in a few bonus pictures that have thus far remained unpublished.

Click on the green button in the image below to load the musical slide show. It’s just under 6 megabytes to download - but once you’ve downloaded it once it won’t need to be downloaded again. It should only take a few minutes if your on broadband ADSL/Cable etc. but if you are on dialup and you really wanna see it - then you had best go make a cup of tea whilst it’s downloading.

Once downloaded - hit the green button again - and then you may use the red button to pause or step backwards through the pics - and the green button to resume the automatic slideshow. Turn up the volume to MAXIMUM LOUD to hear the musical accompaniment as the director intended. :-)

(Ignore the error - the comment will still be added - I just haven’t got round to fixing the problem yet)

Posted by jag at 05:41 PM | Comments (3)
August 04, 2004
Air Rage

How long does it take to fly from one European capital city to another? 2 or 3 hours? Maybe 4 at the most? Not if it’s raining in London it doesn’t. Seven hours. SEVEN. And that doesn’t include the time spent at the airports at either end. If you count those - then it was a total of 11 hours. ELEVEN.

Yes - have been jetsetting a lot lately. And I really am beginning to miss my bus. But last night was taking the piss. After waiting for ages at the foriegn airport for my flight back home - I finally board the plane looking forward to being back home in a matter of a few hours. Only to be told as soon as I’d settled down in my seat (which was a “middle” seat sandwiched between two smart-suited businessmen) that the plane was going to have to sit on the tarmac for another hour before taxiing for take-off. All due to a storm over London causing delays. The British Airways announcement training has a remarkably irritating way of making bad news sound good. An hour or so later we take off - and I try to while away the flight reading the in-flight magazine and Daily Mail. I’d forgotten how entertaining the Daily Mail newspaper actually is.

On arrival over the skies of London - the annoyingly nice British Airways voice announces that we will be another hour in the sky flying around in circles over London due to lots of planes queuing up to land - due to lots of planes being delayed - due to the rain that fell earlier. I gracefully stabbed the uneaten bread-roll on the economy-class food tray of the person sitting on my right with the plastic fork from my own tray - in a kind of “non-violent” rage. He wasn’t there to witness me doing it - as he was visiting the bathroom at the time. I guess it was my way of dealing with the stress of the moment - and it felt good. Especially as the bread roll was still in its cellophane wrapper. When he came back - and saw what I had done - he gave me a strange look. I smiled and told him that it was “art” - kind of like for plane food what Jackson Pollock did with paint (Try it for yourself). I don’t think he understood. So - I artistically placed a couple of coffee-cup stirrers into the uneaten strawberry-angel-delighton-top-ofOreo-cookie dessert on the tray of the bloke sitting on my left - and proudly declared that disgusting plane food can be turned into a work of art. He gave me a strange look as well. It’s funny what people do when they’re angry and stressed isn’t it?

Plane food art

When we finally landed - and spent 10 minutes taxiing around half of Heathrow Airport - the plane finally came to a stop. But not being anywhere near a window - it was hard to tell whether we had actually arrived at the bridge to the terminal. On comes the nice British Airways voice again. This time declaring that we had another hour to wait on the tarmac - due to no aeroplane parking spaces being available - due to a queue of planes waiting to park - due to the delays due to the rain that fell earlier. I think you know the story by now.

I also realised how much I hate Terminal 1. It’s a 10 mile walk from the aeroplane pier to passport control - and because most people who arrive here are citizens of the European Union - the queues at passport control are another 10 miles long. (The queue on the “non European Union citizens” side looked a lot shorter.)

An hour and a half later I was in my car at the Pink Elephant - and was soon cruising the midnight-hour across the misty, muggy streets of West London and Harrow with all my windows wide open. Got home at 1am. Checked my emails at 1:30am. Went to bed at 2am.

I really am beginning to miss my bus.

(Ignore the error - the comment will still be added - I just haven’t got round to fixing the problem yet)

Posted by jag at 06:32 PM | Comments (10)

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