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London Frames !!

It was in the last week of September that I was in Hammersmith neighbourhood of London for a 3-day Open Data Science Conference. It’s been 4 years now that I am Living in Germany, but never visited United Kingdom. This was my very first time. So I had made sure to take a couple of days off and spend the next 2-3 days after the conference to explore London and meet my friend from Kolkata (who turned out to be one of the most amazing host and tour-guide).

This week in London was a different experience from all other 10-15 European countries I have visited in the past. Probably because of three reasons: 1. First foreign country I’m stepping in whose native language is English and drives on the left.. 2. The colonisation history of UK-India and the strong similarity with the old British India Capital Kolkata.. 3. The contrast between the serenity of London’s rich art history & heritage, and the hustling rushing crowd racing against time!

Once I was done with the 3-day conference, I moved from my hotel to this amazing apartment of Gargi Di and Arijit Da.

Not often do you live in such a beautiful and cozy apartment with a garden by the Thames!

I would probably not have been this surprised if I had not lived and traveled in Europe and was coming directly from India instead. I already have an image of the different parts of Europe, but UK was so very different, especially London! Streets of London have uncanny similarities with my hometown Kolkata, back in India. Not just because they drive on the left, but because of the astonishingly similar architecture and the entire feel of it. It was easy to see innumerable Indians around with British accent who have been born and brought up here. London had plenty of Indian restaurants that have food which could even give a contest to the Indian restaurants in India, trust me on that!

I should not be surprised with the tremendous influence of British architecture and street name in Kolkata, given that British colonised India for 200 years with Kolkata as the the capital. I was aware of this by the books, but it was a different feeling to actually walk the roads of London and experience that. 

Second-hand book fair under the bridge by Thames. Reminds me of book fair in Kolkata by Ganges under similar bridges.

On the Left: Colonisation Pillars (read: the irony of the message); On the right: Cocktail Bar Menu at a fancy Indian restaurant with puns for the UK-India colonisation history!

London Bars that remind me of old Kolkata so vividly!

I wouldn’t be able to tell if this railway were from UK or India! No wonder the largest railways system of the world, Indian Railways were built by the British in the early 19th century!

On the Left: National Theatre; On the right: Bengali Durga Puja announcements.

With favourite people around over the extended weekend, without whom this London visit wouldn’t have been the same!

Hyde Park: One of the Royal Parks of London.

It is undoubtedly beautiful but this Sunday afternoon ambience with police forces around forced me to shut my camera and reminded us of the long history of Hyde Park as a site of protest, rallies and marches!

On the left: Official residence and office of the British Prime Minister. On the right: Kensington Palace: King William & Queen Mary asked the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral to turn Nottingham House into a palace, and that extension got to be the Kensington, the birthplace of queen Victoria and residence of Princess Diana till the end of 19th century.

Lord’s- Home of Cricket! What can be a better experience for someone who grew up watching Saurav Ganguly waving his T-Shirt at the Lord’s balcony!

The most iconic royal building of the Buckingham Palace: The official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837. It is currently the the London residence of Her Majesty The Queen and is one of only a few working royal palaces left in the world.

Was lucky to capture the ‘must see’ event of Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

The much hyped, London Eye. Funny how they call it Coca-Cola London Eye now after the sponsorship.

The giant Ferris wheel rotating elegantly on bank of Thames in London is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel.

Sunset from the Tower Bridge of London!

The lovely couple, my host, friends and amazing guide through the holidays, love you guys!

Skyline by Thames from the foot-hills of the London Millennium Footbridge.

London Millennium Footbridge has a very unique ‘blade of light’ design with it’s steel suspension for pedestrians crossing the river and directly arriving at the St Paul’s Cathedral. Innumerable movies featured this new 20yr old bridge with the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy, Run Fat Boy Run, Namaste London, and the incredible cinematic action in the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, etc!

Hunting down the British Telecom tower!

One of the most historical cathedral, the St Paul’s Cathedral Church: seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese!

The Elizabethan playhouse of Globe Theatre has interesting history that goes back to the time when it was built by Shakespeare’s playing company in the 15th century, but was soon destroyed by fire within 20yrs of being built! A second Globe Theatre was built on the same site, but also closed down soon. Finally “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in late 90s which is a complex housing  reconstruction of the Globe Theatre!

Some happy local English Breakfast having uncanny similarities with “Das Cabin” and “Coffee House” of Kolkata!

The Crown Jewels of  England (Coronation Regalia): The historic treasury where British kings & queens have stored crowns, robes, and other 140 royal ceremonial objects for over 600 years.

I did not have the time to enter the British Crown Jewels on this trip, but as an Indian it is an intriguing feeling to know the existence of Kohinoor, the largest cut diamond mined in India, that was powered and taken away by Queen Victoria in the 18th century after the British conquest in India during colonisation!

Soaking in the English dusk!

Kindertransport Memorial outside the Liverpool Metro station: to commemorate British inhabiting 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to save them from the brutal Holocaust.

Imperial College of London.

Sunset from the Tower Bridge of London!

One of the thousands of classic red-telephone box of UK!

The National Gallery from 1824 in the City of Westminster, housing a collection of over 2,500 paintings!

Trafalgar Square after sunset: commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar with France & Spain from the 18th century.

The iconic Tower Bridge by the Thames during a brilliant sunset!

Another noteworthy experience was at the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street! I would blog separately on that sometime soon.

The next time I’m at London, I would love to enter the Crown of Jewels, British Museum, and the Churchill War Rooms. Would be great if I could drive around the outskirts a bit more. And also have a long exposure shot by spending more time at the Tower Bridge and Big Ben!

And of-course , meeting my amazing friends there relishing over exotic Indian food!  🙂

 

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