London Loops: Travelogue on London

London Loops: Travelogue on London

Hello Friends,

One of the patrons of Beautiful Times, PV Natarajan was on a long, really long vacation to London, recently (much to our envy). During his stay in London he has meticulously chronicled every bit of his experience there, as a first time visitor. And we bring all that to you in a three part series called London Loops. Read on and Know London…

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  • Gas: Cooking gas is through pipe lines. The entire city is piped with multiple private providers.
  • Power: There are multiple providers providing undisrupted power supply. Source: Mainly Nuclear Energy.
  • Food: The vegetables, fruits and milk are found to be of very good quality. Sample prices in £ :(1£ =INR 95-100)
  • Banana: 0.18 per piece
  • Yogurt one kg: 1.00
  • Carrots:1kg : 0.80
  • Ladies finger 250grms: 1.00
  • Baby Beans/ Ladies Finger 250 Grms: 1.00
  • Milk : 2lts 1.00
  • Water: It is metered and privatized. As the climate is benign and with intermittent rains in all seasons, there is no water shortage.
  • London Corporation is run on borough basis (administrative units) and London has 9 boroughs. Similar to Chennai Corporation Zones.
  • Each borough has its own efficiency level; hence, some of the zones are maintained better. These boroughs take care of the schools, garbage collection, libraries, road maintenance and street lights.
  • Interestingly, the Borough library is free for its residents. Books can be taken home for reading. Surprisingly even Tamil (one of the languages of India) language books were found in the local library at Borough of Harrow.
  • The roads are cleaned with something like a huge vacuum cleaner operated from a small van. Dust level is very less, and the intermittent rains, wash away the dust on a day to day basis. People don’t litter, so cleaning is a lot easier. Litter Bins are also placed at intermittent gaps on pedestrian platforms.
  • Post Office: The Royal Mail is popular and has three types of mail viz: Ordinary, Registered and First Class. The Govt. is now privatizing it as it is in Loss!
  • Courier services are not much prevalent and people patronize Post Offices.
  • Benches are provided in the foot path, on the roads, for relaxation, say one in every one mile.
  • On foot paths, can you believe this? Public telephones are maintained, say one in every mile! Some of these booths are also Wi-Fi enabled.
  • Of course, in UK, its miles & not KMs.
  • Organized Retail is very much dominant. TESCO is leading the group. But street corner stand alone shops are also thriving. Both work side by side.  They are called Convenience stores (Rightly so at street corners!) Shops run by ethnic groups such as Gujrathis, Tamils, Punjabis stock the ethnic requirements. Hence, it appears that the argument organized retail will kill the standalone Prop. Shops may not be correct .TESCO is in Loss! It also runs a bank. Other retail chains are Waitrose, ASDA, and Sainsbury etc.
  • There is No MRP concept there. Hence prices vary from place to place.
  • If you find a shop protruding on the pedestrian platform, you can close the eyes and say it is of Asian. The practice of encroaching the public space, they take it to London also!



  • There are two daily city newspapers, free of cost. They can be picked up at any Tube station. There is no system of home delivery for even the paid newspapers such as the Guardian.
  • As per a recent study, due to a very high cost of living, one in 11 Britishers end up with less than 10£ PM savings after meeting their bills.
  • Overall London is a costly city as rental and travel costs are very high.
  • A graduate job starting salary:1800 to 2000 £ PM.
  • Non-graduate: 800 to 1000 £ PM(approx. for an idea) Yearly rise is hardly 5%, due to the present economic slowdown. Inflation rate is hardly 1.5%.
  • People are proud of their heritage and they showcase it and monetize it well.
  • Everywhere there is a fee for entrance, but there is fee concession for seniors and students.
  • Pubs: There are English pubs everywhere offering food, drinks and play. It is basically a common place where the neighborhood can meet and discuss issues.
  • Pubs are also close to office locations. The general trend is that socializing starts from Thursday evenings.
  • The city is cosmopolitan with Europeans, Asians and Africans. Nobody gives a strange look at you when ethnic clothes are worn.
  • Sri Lankan Tamils: A phenomenon. They are not highly educated/ professionals. They came in the 80s as refugees or as low end service providers but they are very enterprising. They are found everywhere-super markets, banks, hospitals, as owners running small outfits like saloons, tailoring and small shops. Despite their humble beginning, they have contributed much to the rich cultural heritage of London.
  • They Print & publish Tamil language weekly paper. One from London and another from Paris.
  • Normal Gents Hair cutting charges in British Saloons is £ 10 & above. Come to SL salon, its only £5-7 & you can speak in Tamil      & get the hair cut!
  • In The Recent elections in UK, Ms. Uma Kumaran, ( SL origin) was a Labor party candidate from Harrow east
  • Most of the Saivite temples in London (around 10) are constructed and managed by SL Tamils.
  • Tea & Coffee: Here is it better to take coffee than tea as the British tea is very light. The coffee is good with Starbucks, Nero and Mocha Coffee available.
  • Betting: Of course, it is legal here (18yrs+) and the Betting centers are also many. It is calm and quiet and is handled in a matured way.
  • Lottery: Machines are installed in all retail shops like TESCO. Bingo and Lottery is very popular here as the tickets are cheap but pay outs are big.
  • Attitude: The Britishers love solitude and mingle only with their select closed circle. Soft spoken, they follow etiquette at every place. Not very open to ideas, they are pretty conservative, stickler for rules and obey the law.
  • No one really slogs here in London. Laissez faire is the mood.
  • Which is the Matunga, Rash bihari avenue, Karolbagh, or Malleswaram of London? S it is an area called EASTHAM, the little Tamilnadu of London. You can get Kumbakonam Degree coffee also here. Similarly little Punjab is South Hall. Little Gujarat is Wembley. These are the major three migrant communities of India.
  • In central London, at various places on pedestrian platforms ,young singers, both vocal & instrumental exhibit their talents to the passers-by. People gift money in appreciation. Over & above money, they treat it as a venue to attract the attention of established singers/ producers so that they will come to their attention. I am informed many have attained stardom from such street They are called “Buskers”. Vocabulary addition!                                                                                                                             IMG_1385 (1)



Bhuvana Rajaram

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