TODAY -

My Trip To England
- Part 1 -

By:- Aribam Herojit Sharma *



PREPARATION:

I have been preparing for few days for the big day to come,in the back of my mind I always thought what to wear , which things to carry more than that what kind of people I would be meeting. On the day I was supposed to fly there were lots of excitement and I almost forgot all the things I intended to carry.

But somehow I managed to lay my hands on some basic necessities like medicines, as I heard medicines are really expensive in the UK. In the airport Immigration people started troubling us (as I was travelling with Danny). They started asking petty things like which part of India we belong, why are we going there and so on.

After answering all their Queries we were allowed to get the boarding pass. We straight away went to gate, but the guy said we need to again fill up a form as required by Government of India. Finally we boarded the flight KLM-0871 to Amsterdam, in the flight I tried hard to take a nap after watching and browsing through few movies.

Finally I did manage to sleep for four hours almost but the other fellow was watching a movie. We landed in Amsterdam in the morning their time, we reset our watches and headed for the security point, and again boarded flight for LBA (Leeds Bradford Airport) KLM-1561.

I do vividly recall, when I started my BPO career in 2005, what my Team Leader once said "to travel abroad in business visa shows the guts of the man", I feel proud to make it happen. I started wondering about the man who might be waiting to pick us up from the Airport as we only know his name, Chris Furminger.

MEETING CHRIS:

In the immigration check I did sound little confident so that didn't take much time. On our way out, two lady officers told us to follow them and started asking are you carrying any arms and ammunition. It took me by surprise as I never thought they will ask such kind of questions to two normal displaced guys (with Chinese features, hard-core Manipuris). I fumbled a bit and gave honest answers to whatever they asked.

By the gate, there were few people, out of those I suddenly spoted a man with our names on the pla-card I walked towards him and said "Mr.Furminger?", he responded to us "Herojit and Danny?" and We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. He welcomed us to the UK technically, we said thanks and walk towards his car, he helped us in loading our luggage.

He might be in his late thirties, he always tried to engaged us in conversation by asking about our journey, about the scenery, just to make us feel comfortably in ease. He was really a smart man he really succeeded in making us feel at home in a strange and royal country like England.

He started telling us about the neighborhood, eateries like the 'Chip&Fish' shop. On the way, he said we were going to office straightaway, we will be dropped at our hotel only after meeting some people at our work-place. In the office I saw few people occupied with work.

We were introduced to a fine lady, Sukhy, extremely good-looking. She offered us coffee, we sat beside her for few minutes and then was introduced to a man, Scott Staniforth. Since the last few hours I had been noticing that Scott was a hard working man (not hardly-working).

By that time Chris was ready to drop us to the hotel, in the meantime I heard a guy who works at our Noida office, Ajender, calling me. I almost forgot to give the things I got for him, besan ka ladoo and MDH masala. I also got something for Chris and I also planned to gift a box of sweets to a person who made us feel good on the very first day that happens to be Sukhy.

I know she never expected that from strangers like us who are from India but looks like Chinese, she asked me how come that's for her? I told her I have heard in India there is a beautiful lady called Sukhwinder. Obviously she didn't understand what I am talking about because of my Accent, but she was happy and that's what matters.

On the way to the hotel Chris told us about his struggles which got him where he is now, he started working from the age of17 .I asked is it legal to work from the age of 17? He replied by the time a person is 16,they can work legally. He showed us the market nearby our hotel.

We checked in, and took some rest. In the evening we went out to the market and got to see many things in the mega mart ASDA. We collected ready to serve meat, wine and bread for the first night. The meal was delicious. In the evening, that was around 9 pm but the Sun had not set yet, I tried calling up my only friend in the UK ''Ann" but it appeared she changed her number so I had to call Baby(my GF) to get Ann's number.

Next morning, woke up at 6.30 AM dressed quickly Danny called up reception to arrange a TAXI but the girl said they don't do TEXT service(what a confusion).After lots of download we came back to the hotel by taxi the charge was 5.50 quips for 3 miles. Back in the hotel I sat down to check my scraps in Orkut, the charge was 1 quips for 30 mins. I left a scrap in Ann's scrapbook giving my hotel phone number and room details.

Within 10 mins I got a call from her and we talked about many things, about India & UK friends, we decided to catch up ASAP. she agreed to come down to Shipley (where our hotel is located) the next weekend and we decided to go to her place in London(LUNDUN as their local accent) the following weekend. I felt good and relief to talk to a friend after seeing a whole new environment.

As I know Ann for the last few years She is a confident girl, she knows what exactly she wants from life, which is very good. She studied in London and has been working there for more than 3 years so she guided us on every little thing. Every day after work she called me up and we talked for long(by the way she is my gf's cousin). I was really eager to see her so that we will get to feast on Manipuri dishes.

Having have to wait 3 more days to have Chak was like ages. Weekend finally arrived!!! She said she will stay in Leeds and we will catch up on Saturday morning. Like every other day we went to ASDA to get some food& wine, I bought a sim-card from "ORANGE" to keep going.

At the time of activation of my sim, my call landed in India, I requested to transfer the call to someone who speaks Manipuri, after few seconds I heard a voice I asked, "Are you Manipuri?" She replied she is… and I started talking to her in Manipuri.

As I was in BPO for few years I knew any customer service for bank, telecom etc will land in India no matter from which part of the US or UK you are calling from. In any Indian call center there will be atleast a Manipuri person I was able to hold that key. I talked to Nancy about their services and blah blah after that I authorized my friend (Danny) to talk to her and they chatted (I feel like Meeteis Goes Global).

BIG SATURDAY:

Ann called me in morning and we chopped out our plan for the day. Shipley is 15 mins by train from Leeds. We were waiting at the station but Ann called me up and said they are out from there, she gave me the landmark where they were standing which was near McD.

I walked up till McD. I saw Ann with another girl Tere she was a lovely girl, we went to our hotel, sat for a while and all geared up to see Bradford and find some good Indian food. So far, I didn't even see a white guy driving the cab! only Indian's and Paki's who speaks something like English but not sure what language they are conversing in .

All this Asian drivers pretend they don't speak Hindi but they play Sunrise Station (FM station which plays Hindi music). Once I requested a driver to put on the volume in Hindi but he didn't entertain my request.

In Bradford, we were on the look-out for Curry International which we obviously didn't find. We walked through the city and ultimately managed to locate a "Biryani House" run by Pakistani's near Bradford Univ. We were happy to settled for chicken Biryani for 4.50 quips a plate it was Ok after too much walk. In Bradford, half of the people I saw are, no doubts, Asians.

To be continued....




* Aribam Herojit Sharma contributes to e-pao.net for the first time . The writer can be contacted at aribamhero(at)yahoo(dot)com or his blog at http://march11.hpage.com
This article was webcasted on June 30th, 2009.


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