London Eye

After lazing around the whole morning, I went to the London eye this evening. The London eye is this huge giantwheel that’s probably one of the tallest structures in London. When on top, you’re supposed to be able to see all the important places in London. It was arranged by the LBS for the exchange students, but not many had turned up, since it was raining.

So we got on, and despite my fear of heights, it was a nice experience. You do get to see quite a bit. The only problem was that it got over too soon, and since we didn’t have a guide, I didn’t know what most of the buildings were anyway. I did spot St. Paul’s Cathedral, which looks lovely, and another building which I’m told is a famous gay club (of which there are tonnes in London).

The real fun began when we decided to go over to a bar after that. I don’t think it’s my first time in a bar, but it certainly is the first time in a bar where there’s lots of smoke and people are dancing. So as I walk in, I spotted something that I’d been hunting for ever since I got to this city: a belly button piercing. Since it was a rather rare sighting, I decided to follow it and examine it — at a safe distance of course.

As I was occupying myself thus, a man (pretty huge one), walks up to me along with a couple of friends, and started staring at me. I stopped worrying about the piercing and started worrying about the door. The big guy pointed a finger at me (I prayed) and said “Are you a cab driver?”

I’d been expecting a lot of things, but this was one question I didn’t have an answer to. No, I was not a cab driver, but I didn’t think I wanted to tell him that. In fact, I didn’t want to tell him anything. So I walked around him, when all the while he was pointing at me, and asking “Are you a cab driver? Are you a cab driver?”

As I walked past the Big Ben, I told myself that it must have been my black jacket that made him think I was a cab driver, and headed home.

On 18th, I’d mentioned how dependant I’d become on the railway timing. To corroborate a bit about that, let me tell you about another night. There was a train that’s supposed to leave at 10:43PM. I’d set my watch by the railway clock. When I looked at it, my watch showed 10:42PM. I was a fair distance away from the train, so I made a dash for it, and reached with barely a second to spare by my watch. Whew. I sat, waiting for the doors to close. Nothing happens. I look at the watch outside. It reads 10:42PM. It turns out that my watch gains about 10 seconds every day. I’d set my watch against the railway’s clock a week ago, and my watch was 70 seconds ahead. In India, it would have scarcely mattered.

Which is not to say that the British are thrilled. There was a railway crash last week, as a result of which all overground trains had a maximum speed imposed all of a sudden. So EVERY British Rail train was delayed by half-an-hour, on average, and the service became erratic. This morning, I was waiting for a train, when an elderly man next to me said, “You know, this speed limit thing, it’s silly. I mean, the problem is in the tracks. They should have replaced them ages ago. Such a thing could happen only in England…” He nodded at me wisely and said, “Only in England.”

I wanted to tell him about the time I slept in a station, waiting for a train that was delayed by 8 hours, and ended up travelling by a different train. “Only in India,” I would’ve said.