My time in the UK – Part 2

We moved into our rented flat in North Finchley in May of 2011. The flat was a medium-sized two-bedroom unit within a low-rise brick unit of flats. It was located on the ground floor and had a separate entrance through the kitchen. The place was tastefully done and perfect for a small family.

The place was about a 7 minute walk from the local high street which had pretty much all the shops one would need to frequent. The public bus terminus was a 12 minute walk while the metro stop was about 15 minutes away (it was on the other side of the high street from where we were located). It was a bit of a commute to my office (around 45 minutes) but that was an improvement over my previous commutes in Sydney and Mumbai, so I was not complaining!

May was a great time of the year to begin our new innings in London. The trees were by now all green, the weather was steadily getting warmer and the days longer. Work was also very busy, and after a couple of months, we decided to take a small road trip which I will write about later.

Finally, a note on the shops that we used to visit. For groceries and other essentials, our primary port of call was Sainsbury’s. We also had options at either end nearby – Aldi when we wanted to be more budget conscious and Waitrose for the occasional splurge! A special note for the ready-to-eat pizzas and other items we found at Waitrose – these were delicious, and far better than any we had seen elsewhere. There was a fashion store with good quality reasonably prized clothes for the entire family, Argos for domestic products as well as charity shops from where I added to my CD collection. There was an Indian store manned by people of Indian (Gujarati) origin where we could find delicious Indian and Gujarati food items. With a few cafes and restaurants nearby, the place was pretty much self-sufficient.

My time in the UK – Part 1

I was recently talking with some people in the UK, and it suddenly struck me that it was almost exactly a decade ago when we (my wife and I) had moved to the UK. It was an interesting phase of our lives. I had never written about my time in the UK before, so I thought of jotting down some of my thoughts from our time there before they become an even more distant memory.

We had been living in Sydney, Australia for over 2 years before we decided to make the move to the UK. I was keen to live and work in Europe (and UK was very much part of Europe then, before Brexit). As it happened, my application for a work-visa was approved and we decided to move. After leaving Australia, we took a 3 week driving holiday in New Zealand and then spent a few weeks in our hometown of Mumbai. So it was quite a shock to the system when we finally arrived in grey, cold and wet England towards the end of winter.

We were met at the airport by a close friend of my wife with whom we were to spend the first few weeks of our time in the UK while I found a job and we found a place to stay. Their place was in Essex, near Southend-on-Sea. It was great staying with friends as it definitely eased the transition into a new country.

Some of the memories from our time at Essex included visiting Southend-on-Sea as well as visiting some of the parks in the area and seeing the first shoots of daffodil poke out from the earth, heralding spring. Soon, the days started getting longer, brighter and warmer; it was fascinating to see the seasons change.

Shortly after landing in the UK, I landed a job in Central London. It was a long commute from Essex, but a pleasant one. By then, we had started looking for our own place to stay, and we found a place that we liked in North Finchley, London and moved in a few days later.

Monday Reads – 22/03

Filter-Coffee

This week’s articles focus on topics that I am interested in – history / architecture, food and bird-watching. Happy reading!

The bizarre link between bird migration and quantum physics – Quantum physics is a topic that I got interested in a few years after leaving University. It still interests me, but bird-watching is a hobby that I pursue far more seriously. This article brings these two very different topics together in an attempt to explain one of the more profound mysteries of nature.

India’s Oldest Surviving Temples – Cultural heritage is a topic that I have recently got into. And I am fortunate to be living in a country where ancient heritage is all around us. I was fascinated by reading this article, especially as most of the oldest temples in India are located in small towns and villages across the country.

The Spice Route – Another aspect of living in India that’s so fascinating is the food – the diversity, the taste and, of course, the spices. This article explores the use of spices in different parts of the world.

South Indian Filter Coffee Is Like No Coffee You’ve Had Before – Regular readers of my blog would have likely guessed by now that I am coffee lover. Living abroad, my coffee of choice used to be a cappuccino (full cream milk, no sugar). After coming back to India, I realised that, while there is a growing coffee culture here, tastes differ and I was struggling to find a decent cappuccino. It was during these times of struggle that I rediscovered South Indian filter coffee. Now, brewing that decoction has become a daily routine that I look forward to!

Monday Reads – 15/03

Photo by Patrick Browne on Unsplash

Articles on Decision making, work-life balance, the role of food in evolution, snakes in Ireland and more make up this week’s set of readings:

Avoiding Bad Decisions – A simple, yet helpful article on the reasons why we make bad decisions and tips on how we can reduce bad decision making.

Why it’s wrong to look at work-life balance as an achievement – Numerous articles have been written on this topic, but there is no doubt that many of us struggle to find this balance. This article takes a slightly different view on this issue and suggests some ways in which employees and employers can make the situation better.

How India Spends, Shops and Saves in the New Reality? – A report from BCG that ‘highlights key changes about how Indian consumers are likely to spend, shop, and save in the new decade.‘. Not all of the insights might be revolutionary but you might find some interesting nuggets in this report.

How early humans’ quest for food stoked the flames of evolution – A fascinating article that suggests that ‘Ancient humans who had the ability to smell and desire more complex aromas, and enjoy food and drink with a sour taste, gained evolutionary advantages over their less-discerning rivals‘. Worth a read!

Snakeless in Ireland – It’s St. Patrick’s Day later this week. I was fortunate to have lived a few years in the beautiful country of Ireland. One of the oddities of the Emerald Isle is that there are no snakes to be found here. This article lays out the reason why this is the case.

Monday Reads – 08/03

Photo by Simon John-McHaffie on Unsplash

Happy International Women’s Day! We kick off this week’s reading list with a reminder of how much more we have to do to get to true gender equality.

Ten things to know about gender equality – As this article by McKinsey & Co states, ‘Creating more opportunity for women and the next generation is an aspiration and a very real goal that can lift the global economy as well as contributing to a more just society. It is a goal we need to meet collectively.

How to have better arguments online – ‘The troubled times we live in, and the rise of social media, have created an age of endless conflict. Rather than fearing or avoiding disagreement, we need to learn to do it well.

A Radical Mind – An old, but still wonderfully fresh interview with mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who coined the term ‘fractal‘.

Let’s Talk About Being Busy – We live in a world where being busy is seen as a good thing. But is this really the case? Watch this video and decide for yourself.

Can physics prove if God exists? – A wonderful article, for atheists and believers alike.