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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Morning Walk

Morning walk around the Shortlands neighbourhood. A 15 minute walk from where I stay takes me to the Bromley high street. A high street is situated in every main locality in the UK, which is a commercial area with malls, shopping centers, restaurants and other sources of entertainment. Shot in September 2014.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Endorphin Source

Sports centers around the neighborhood. 

Shot in multiple locations - Bromley, Shortlands, Beckanham and Victoria - Aug Sep 2014.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 K Run

The Date - September 21 2014.  The Place - Reading Town in the County of Berkshire. The Event - Spirit of Wipro Run 2014 covering a distance of 5 Kms. The seeds of participation for this event were sown on the Ramzan Id July 29 2014 when I was driving to Bangalore from Halaguru. Harsha my old buddy who was then in London on a project from Wipro, told me about participating in this event. I gave an instant nod and the registrations were made for 4 of us including 2 of my other friends, much before the actual date and even before I went to London.

Reading is over 80 Kms from London and it turned out that renting a car was a more viable option than the trains. On a sunny Sunday morning, after a 90 minute drive on the UK roads we were at the lush green Prospect Park which was the venue for the run.

I had never ran for a long distance in an official competition ever before barring my occasional morning jogs. My only brush with a marathon was the 2010 Sunfeast Marathon where my participation was in the role of a photographer more than a runner. My intention was the same this time around too. When I reached the venue I got inspired by the people around and decided to give it my best shot, even though there was no preparation whatsoever in terms of training for the event.

My reasoning was that 5 Kms would not be a daunting task for someone who is physically active and sporty. The five of us including another on the spot registered friend changed into the fancy event T-Shirts and pinned in the bib numbers. My number was 309. After some stretching to loosen up the muscles we were ready for the run to be flagged off.

The run had around 500 + participants. The run began and I had my iPod for company playing some hand picked songs compiled just for the event. I stuck to the basic mantra of not breathing through the mouth and not running too hard initially. I also made it a point to never open my mouth or swallow my spit. The secret is to run slow and steady with easy synchronized breathing patterns.

Pepped by the songs and maintaining a slow but steady pace I ran ahead many others and put the majority of the initial starters behind. All my friends except Harsha went out of sight and were lost behind me. It was getting tougher and exhaustive with every minute. I saw a board reading 4 Km complete and my joy knew no bounds. I invoked all my reserve energy to give it a best shot for the last Km so that I could put behind as many people as I could. In a minute I put Harsha (017) behind too who was a veteran of 5 Marathons including two 21 K and one 10 K runs. Thrilled that I could achieve this with virtually no preparation and priding myself on my capabilities I leaped ahead with renewed energy until I came across a sign saying 'Lap 1 complete'. The moment I saw this, all my excitement and energy took a beating and led to a sudden crash. My leaps started reducing to strides and then to steps. I witnessed around 5 runners including my buddy Harsha overtake me. I was almost on the verge of giving up, but something in me kept me going and I reached the checkpoint where we were handed the green band for completing lap 1 along with a bottle of water. I slowed down after this almost satisfied with the effort of completing half the run. I walked for about 20 steps pouring all of the water on my sweaty head and face. During this time my aching legs got a breather and my lost breath recovered and I was resurrected for the final lap. I slowly made up my mind that I am going to do this no matter what, for my little daughter, wife, nieces and parents. Aided with some wonderful English Pop and Bollywood numbers I reached the finish line in 30 minutes 30 seconds. More than the timing the satisfaction of not giving up and completing the run was the biggest reward. The winning time was around 23 minutes by an English Wipro employee. My friend completed in 29 + minutes.

Being able to complete the run successfully and among the top 40 finishers was thrilling. It was a remarkably satisfying day in the end and the sweet pain lingered along through the next few days.

It was a pleasure to meet this active couple who were winners in the Non Wipro Men and Women category. Their little son of almost 10 years too won recognition in one of the children events. Truly remaining physically active, sporty and outdoorsy is a blessing which creates an endorphin boost and leaves a feel good factor.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

English Food

Office food is catered by an efficient team of chefs and associate staff which churns out Breakfast, Lunch and Tea all through the work week. Food is given at a subsidized price for all the employees. Waitrose which is one of the elite Supermarkets in UK, being a partner of JL, is one of the reasons for the price subsidy.

There is both an indoor as well as an outdoor seating to savour the food. The terrace experience are pleasant on a warm sunny day and definitely not on cold windy London days.

A typical English Breakfast and Lunch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shortlands Victoria Commute

The station to station commute of 23 minutes is a blessing in London, compared to an average of an hour plus commutes involving multiple train/tube transfers. This also saves the daily tube travel ordeals.  The station in picture is the Shortlands station which is a two minute walk from home. People who stay farther drive in their cars and park them in the station or any road in close proximity.

This is the Orpington - Victoria train which stops at Shortlands. The frequency of the trains are amazing and accessible well in advance through the present day smart communication apps.

London Victoria Station is the one of the major railway hubs. Victoria is a locality which houses many offices. The sight of people on the way to the offices soon after alighting from the trains is a sight to behold. A typical big city rat race.

Monthly passes are very convenient for daily commuters. All of which is ably managed by technology and ample station staff on duty at all times.

The Victoria station caters to the overground Nation Railway as well as the famous London underground Tube network. There are even inter country trains to France and Belgium. I heard that France is around 3 hours from this station.

My office has two buildings both located 2 minutes from the station. 

The main 10 floor John Lewis office.

The streets of Victoria are buzzing with people all through the day. The crowd comprises of people who work in the many offices housed here and also the tourists for whom Victoria is the major train interchange hub. There are quite a few touristy spots around Victoria. The Big Ben, London Eye and the Parliament are some of the famous spots.

Another building of our office is close to the Grosvenor Hotel on the Buckingham Palace Road just besides the Victoria Station.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Shortlands Neigbourhood

Living in a true English locality adds to the charm of the UK stay. Knowing this very well, we made sure to hit on this apt location through some advanced research and co-ordination of a few friends. Shortlands is located in the London Borough of Kent County. Shortlands has a dedicated railway station trough which the South Eastern British railways ply.                             

These pictures were taken on Rainy Morning in Aug 2014. Mays Hill Road is where the Farley Croft apartment in which we live is located on.

Shortlands is blessed with
verdant vegetation and a calmness which is so much needed in a residential area. The tree in the parking lot is surely over half a century. This is a soothing view from the balcony. The visible bricks without any plastering adds to the earthen touch that this place has to offer.

The Shortlands Station is just 2 minutes walk which is a real blessing to make use of the well networked public railway transport. Other areas around Shortland are Beckenham, Bromley and Orpington to name a few.

A minute away from our apartment is this lovely calm intersection  of Mays Hill Road and Kingswood Street where we can perch on the bench and spend a few calm moments.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Streets of London

The most evident signs of the streets are the orderliness and the discipline. The signs and the markings on the roads to indicate the lane demarcation, turns, stops, warnings, et al is impeccable. The geometrically tiled pavements, smoothly cemented roads are a pleasure to be used. The traffic lights, manicured hanging gardens, well groomed trees are the hallmark.

These are some of the first pictures I shot in Aug 2014. The streets pictured are along the Shortlands railway station which is my Home station, that I use day in and out. These streets lead to the Bromley High Street.

The red cemented patch indicates that the place is reserved for Bus Stops.