Friday, April 28, 2017

Xmas in London - #AtoZChallenge

December is the best month to visit London!! I know, I know, some of you will disagree owing to the grey sky, cold and the travelling woes. Yet the air is filled with Christmas spirit and you can feel it every moment with people in a cheerful mood, food and fragrances specific to the Christmas aplenty, and the best of all - shopping!! With the Christmas fairs & markets, there is a lot to choose from if the shops are not enough for you. Our first Christmas in London was enlightening in many ways. First of all, we used to think that it is all about the day itself, never did we realise that there would be so much to enjoy even before the festival day itself, colleagues at work bringing Advent Calendars, calendars counting days up to the Christmas with small windows for each day or sometimes random days of the month, to be opened to take a gift (chocolates in most of the cases in my office) on that day. Although putting up Christmas tree was the admin's responsibility, we all chipped in whenever we could, while many of them recollecting their fond childhood memories of the festival. As we neared the day, people started bringing in food which was cooked or available only during Christmas. Walking down the street or commuting in underground train or bus, there were always at least a few Christmas trees and decorations visible throughout the city, lifting your spirits instantly. But the Oxford Street beat everything else. A walk down this street after it got dark was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

P.C. http://blog.amba-hotel.com
All the store windows and shelves were adorned with beautiful gifts and unique items. They were so tempting that sometimes we would spend hours visiting stores looking at those fancy items and wondering whom can we buy those for (not to mention we would end up buying many things even though we didn't have much of a family or friends to gift those to, except for a cousin and her kids). But if we had a planned trip to home in immediate future, we would stock up on gifts to carry back home. During one of such shopping spree, we bought a scented oil burner and some lovely burning oils from Marks & Spencers. Coming from India, I was used to having everything available around the year in shops. So one random day long after Christmas was over, I searched for the same fragrances like a maniac only to be told in the end that those are available only during Christmas by a bewildered shop assistant.
P.C. www.wsj.com

As we neared the day, the excitement became increasingly palpable. My workplace had planned an elaborate Christmas lunch a couple of days before they closed for a week's holidays. I was so happy to be able to taste the traditional Christmas lunch as otherwise, I would have never got a chance to do so. The lunch started at about 12 p.m. (though we headed to the pub much before that) and went on for 2-3 hours with many courses of meals and rounds of drinks, followed by an elaborate celebration with more drinks till 8 in the night (at least that was the time when I left for home while many stayed back insisting me to join them for Karaoke or some more fun activities).

P.C. https://www.timeout.com

The actual day of the festival turned out to be a big surprise for us. All the shops, public transport, malls were closed and the reason was simple - everybody should get to celebrate the festival with their family. It was as if the city came to a standstill to celebrate. It was very unusual for us. We had always seen Policeman, shopkeepers, public transport employees and many other professionals working even on the most important festivals of their religions back in India. For that matter, during early years of my career, even I had spent some festivals in office. For the first time, it made us appreciate all those people back home who work even on holidays instead of being with their loved ones. On one Christmas I was supposed to be alone as hubby dear was going to be in India and I had to be in London for work. By the time the day arrived more than half of my office knew that I was going to be alone and they couldn't stop feeling sorry and wondering what was I going to do all alone. Some of them offered me tips while a couple of them also went to the extent of inviting me over for lunch with their extended families. I had barely joined in October and it felt so nice to be worried about by all of them (many of whom I knew only by name). But finally, I was invited over by a bunch of Indian friends, who just like me didn't have much to do on the day and had planned a house party with lots of food and board games.

P.C. http://blog.amsterdam-hotel.com
It is true that sometimes you have to see the other cultures to appreciate some people back home and also realise that no matter what our origins, languages or faiths might be, we all are human and it feels nice to be treated as just another human rather than one from different religion who doesn't celebrate their festival.

P.S. Don't forget to try Ice Skating if you happen to be in London during winter, many iconic places have an ice rink created just for the limited time and I can assure you, its loads of fun.

P.C. www.timeout.com




Download this and other posts published as part of the #AtoZChallenge  - https://www.theblogchatter.com/download/off-beats-by-gayatri/


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