This and many other clichés were busted when I went to live in the UK and I am glad that I did.
Don’t ask me why, but Britain always felt like a second home to me.
Even before I set foot.
Perhaps ol’e Mrs. Brown may have had some influence in it. She was my charming British teacher when I was in my primary school. She played a major part in polishing my English at that young impressionable age.
There used to be a saying that the sun never set on the British empire. Its true even to this day. In my stay there I hardly ever saw the sun. and since it didn’t rise , it didn’t set!
The British sense of humor is incredible. It still beats me that how can anyone smile in that muggy weather. I remember once I was going for an interview and it was a very cold and windy day. To make matters worse it was raining. I was barely covering myself in the umbrella when suddenly the strong wind turned the umbrella upside down drenching me in no time. My umbrella looked like a parachute. I felt terrible and didn’t know what to do. When I reached the bus stop, a middle aged man waved at me and said, “ Hey mate, seem to be in a hurry. What are you planning, flying home?”
I was a big fan of Tim Henman. And so was my neighbor. Even today I feel, apart from Edberg, there was no one who was as graceful. During the Wimbledon fortnight he used to keep looking out of the window watching out for me to come out. And no matter how busy I was, we had to discuss Tiger Tim’s game and how brilliant he was and probably this was his year. It didnt matter , he never won.
but think of it even Sex Pistol never won an award!
If you are in a hurry never make the mistake of asking an English man for directions. They are perfectionists. He will meticulously take out his brief case out of his car, bring out his road map and then draw a plan on piece of paper while you shifted your weight from one leg to other nervously looking at the watch.
During the last few months of my stay there I had developed severe back ache because of the cold weather. It still overwhelms me to think of how much time my accounts controller and his assistant took in finding a car which was ergonomic and suitable for a back ache.
When I was leaving, the whole office came to the pub for a last drink. I had to drink as many tequila as the number of months I had spent in the office. And they were almost twenty. That is one of the rare times I prayed the Lord. Don’t let my country down. Lord. Let me hold my drink.
Lord Bacchus was on my side. he is one God who listens!
I along with a little help from those pretty girls who felt compassion for me completed the quota. The jealous men groaned in disapproval.
As I reached the foyer of my hotel, I still remember how I felt my vision blur and so clenched my fists in my coat pocket just to remain sober. I couldn’t even wait for the elevator and ran for the stairs. As I entered my hotel room I rushed to the toilet. I suddenly felt like losing my balance and looked for support and held the faucet knob of the bath tub. As I lunged it opened and drenched me in a cool shower. It felt so good.
I woke up in the morning in a pool of water in the tub looking lovingly at my drenched suit as lovingly as a war veteran looks at his medals.
The London blast was a sad day. It changed London for ever. I left UK a few days later.
Luckily my comments to BBC are still preserved in their archives. It was my last show in Croydon. and this is what i said. It came right from my heart.
“I was coming from Croydon to Victoria station. When the train stopped at Victoria and just as I got out there was a mechanical fault and the door suddenly closed my bag was left in and I was out. There was no panic. A middle-aged man indicated me to meet at the next door. He carried my bag and gave it to me on the platform. There was no suspicion no fear. Thank you to that man and well done London. I feel blessed to live in a country where courtesy overrides fear. Three cheers to that!
Sudhir Kekre, Manchester, UK”
I feel a tug at my heart strings as I read them and relive that time.
I was indeed blessed to have resided in a beautiful country full of beautiful people.