November 26, 2004
Urban Glamour

Been a while since Iast posted. And how very different our weather has been since then! With December almost upon us - we’ve had some really bizarre warmth over the last few days. 14 Celcius - it’s been like the Bahama’s out there!

The sun shone bright and low as I stepped off the Route 83 bus at Ealing Broadway this morning. It occurred to me, suddenly, that the term “Broadway” has a semi-glamourous ring to it. I suppose there is something slightly glamorous about urban London High Streets in a way - but it’s hard to pick out just one thing that makes them so.

The kebab shop with pavement-cafe, al-fresco-style, seating for a variety of exotic-sounding breakfast options certainly makes a brave attempt at being so. Not quite Paris. Not quite the Mediterranean. But - hey: it’s November, it’s warm - and this is London.

Glamorous Ealing Broadway.

Posted by jag at 07:41 PM | Comments (8)
November 19, 2004
Cold Snap

It was so cold that I could see my steamy breath - even on the upper deck of the bus. And the yellow poles on the tube could only be held with the thick sleeve of my jacket covering my hands, it was that cold. Warm relief came when severe signal failures in the Paddington area caused the 7.56 from Ealing Broadway to be cancelled. Meaning that a million people tried to get on the 8:08 - meaning that we packed ourselves in like sardines - meaning that we got warm again.

It’s always easier to cope with overlapping personal spaces in situations like this if you’ve got your own personal music to listen to. It takes the sensory focus away from the eyes - and from making eye contact with your fellow passengers - who are probably close enough to get really familiar with the eau-de-toillete you splashed on earlier.

Squashed up in a narrow “briefcase-compartment” behind a cluster of seats in the first class compartment of the First Great Western Link train to Slough, the position I was forced to stand in afforded me a mundane view of an oriental-looking girl with bright-dyed hair and oversized jumper-sleeves, channel-surfing the FM radio on her mobile phone - which glowed alien-spaceship-red everytime she pressed a button.

Stuck behind her in the First Class compartment on the 8:08 to Slough.

Posted by jag at 11:10 PM | Comments (9)
November 17, 2004
Sushi Roll

A lot of people in the West mistakenly think of Japanese sushi as “raw fish”. This is most certainly NOT the case!

The term “sushi” is Japanese for “vinegar rice” - which is the classic short-grained rice that, when cooked, is rather sticky - and then folded in seasoned rice-vinegar. The sushi rice is typically served with various fish and vegetable accompaniments - and in various styles.

Today I got up early in the morning to prepare my lunch to take to the office: “Sushi Roll”.

Preparing Sushi.

Click here to learn how to make this really tasty (and healthy) lunch-time dish.

Sushi Roll - today’s lunch!

Posted by jag at 10:45 PM | Comments (15)
November 15, 2004
Hare Krishna guy on bus

A white “Hare Krishna” guy got on my bus tonight. He nearly missed it. I saw him sprinting at full speed to get on before the bus pulled away from the stop. He climbed up to the top deck - gasping for breath - and sat down near the front. I was way behind him - right at the back. But I could see that his head was shaved bald. Even though he was wearing a woolly hat. His thick grey coat protecting him from London’s cold November chill betrayed his bright orange clothing underneath. He was more “Oxford Street” than “Wembley High Road”- and proceeded to wire himself up to his walkman/discman/IPOD/MP3-player.

I then wondered what he was listening to - and wondered what he was doing round these parts. Attending a puja or kirtan perhaps?

Meanwhile - a Michael Palin travel documentary is being played out on the flat-panel TV screen in front.

White Hare Krishna guy on my bus.

Posted by jag at 11:39 PM | Comments (9)
November 11, 2004
Happy Diwali

The lights of Soho Road Handsworth (Birmingham), Belgrave Road (Leicester), Southall Broadway and Ealing Road (Wembley) are lit - and the weekend’s festivities are about to begin. For many like the Route 79 posse - it’s a great excuse for families to get together to remind each other that we still exist. Also - for many - it’s a great excuse to set off annoyingly loud fireworks. (You see: it is a tradition in recent years amongst obscenely materialistic Indians in London - that the wealthier you are - the louder, more elaborate and expensive your fireworks are.)

Taken from the front of the upper deck of my bus earlier this evening: here is a shot of the Diwali street-lighting decorating Ealing Road in Wembley (North West London) - which is the path of my beloved Route 79 bus journey home. (Click on the pic for an interesting effect.)

Happy Diwali.
(A few pictures of the celebratory street-decoration in Ealing Road Wembley)

The term “Diwali” is a corrupted version of the word “Deepavali” - which in Sanskrit literally means “a row of lamps”. One of the amazing things about the Diwali celebration is how (for Indians at least) it carries a significance that transcends most of India’s communities and religions.

For Hindu peoples - it is a five-day celebration that, on the third day, involves worship to the Goddess Lakshmi - for blessings of prosperity and wealth as well as the triumphs of good over evil and light over darkness. Hence the term “festival of lights”. (Although Hindu mythology refers to Diwali as the commemoration of the return of Ram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and the eldest son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya, from a 14-year exile with Sita and Lakshman after killing the Ravan, a demon king. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebrate the return of their king.)

For Sikh peoples - Diwali is celebrated as the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji from captivity (along with 52 other Hindu Kings released on the same day by Moghul Emperor Jahangir at the Guru’s insistence) to his home town of Amritsar. The townspeople of Amritsar lighted up the way to Harmandhir Sahib (the Golden Temple) in his honour. (By coincidence - it happens that way before this event - Diwali is the day that foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid - in 1577.)

For Jain peoples - Diwali is the most important festival - celebrating the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma as followed today. In fact - the word “Dipavali” first written in Jain holy texts. It was composed in Shaka Samvat 705. Thus people in Bharata (India) every year celebrate the famous “Dipalikaya”, to respectfully worship the Jinendra on the occasion of his Nirvana. Diwali is not mentioned in Valmiki’s Ramayana, Mahabharata, brahmanical Puranas or in Tulsidas’s Ram-charit-manas. So, it is most probably that Diwali is predominantly a Jain custom, which was Indianised later on and therefore celebrated by almost every Indian.

Anyway - no matter who you are and where you are from - a Happy Diwali to you all!

Posted by jag at 10:18 PM | Comments (12)
November 07, 2004
Take five

Track number 10 on a free CD attached to the front of Cosmo magazine had a very Pink Panther-esque feel about it. (The 1970s cartoon - not the film). It’s a tune that most people will recognise. It accompanies the following photo montage presentation: 25 previously unpublished, random images of things in my neighbourhood, or my bus, or places I’ve been to. All in or around London. Real London.

The presentation is a Shockwave Flash object - and is approximately 3.7 megabytes - so should only take 2 or 3 minutes to load if you are on Broadband/ADSL/Cable etc. Just turn up the volume and enjoy! (The green button advances to the next picture.)

Posted by jag at 05:40 PM | Comments (7)
November 02, 2004
It's not everday ...

… that you have to give way (yield) to a “Jumbo Jet” passenger plane on the way to work in the morning:

Waiting for a Boeing 747 to pass me by.
(Heathrow Airport perimeter road.)

Well I suppose it’s not every day that I have to go to a place called “Bedfont Lakes” - which is a hi-tech business park near Heathrow where the best road-route from my home involves navigating my way through the suburbs of West London and around the perimeter of the Airport. Problem is - you might have to wait a few minutes whilst a Jumbo crosses the road.

Also - it’s not every day that you end the day spending time with a film crew on the London Underground:

Film crew on the London Underground.
(This is in a Northern Line train Northbound from King’s Cross)

Had to spend a few hours reconstructing and recalling parts of my nightmare journey home from January 2003 with a TV crew filming a documentary for Channel 4’s “Cutting Edge” series. It was a very strange experience being a “movie-star” for the evening - and even stranger observing ordinary London commuters from the director’s perspective. Very strange indeed.

Posted by jag at 10:42 PM | Comments (15)

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