Diggin on Duggan!

Today I had opportunity to meet one of my favourite comic writers, and hands down one half of my favourite writing team – Gerry Duggan! In the words of Ice Cube, “today was a GOOD day!

Duggan was signing comics for his fans at Orbital Comics, one of London’s best little comic book stores, in my humble opinion. Free of charge and any fuss the man happily sat and signed issue after issue, sometimes a dozen per person (sadly I only had the two I had just purchased – Hawkeye vs Deadpool #0 and Deadpool: Soul Hunter – as my entire collection is sitting back home in India!). And it wasn’t just a sign and be off atmosphere either – he was super friendly and conversant. I even had the chance to tell him about “Holy Hell”, written by yours truly with my own writing partner Akshay, and our other efforts over at Meta Desi Comics. We’re no Duggan and Posehn (yet), but we can dream!

In the 5-10 minutes that we spoke (well it felt like that anyway), we also got to talking about a common inspiration – Mark Waid (whose name came up when I invited Duggan to come to Comic Con Delhi – something he wasn’t all that unexcited about Comic Con India guys!). He told me about how when he first met Waid, and got the chance to work with him, he was terrified… I failed to mention to him how apt that story was considering I was positively buzzing at the moment myself! Honestly I wish I could have stayed and offered to buy him a pint after the signing, but sadly, being my last day in London, chores beckoned. But perhaps such moments are made all the sweeter by their fleeting beauty.

Let’s hope this won’t be the last time I get to meet the great Duggan… And let’s hope next time I hit the jackpot and his writing partner is with him! Till then… Excelsior!

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So Wrong it was Right: The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theatre, London)

Today I caught the matinée show of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong‘ a brilliantly slap-stick comedy production, currently being staged at the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End. Offering a “play within a play” this play revolves around a disastrously comical (or should I say comically disastrous?) production of ‘A Murder at Haversham Manor’, being staged by the rather amusing (and so familiarly) amateurish the theatre troupe of the ‘Cornley Polytechnic’.

As a warm-up to the show, cast members, playing the crew, ran about the stage and bar area frantically trying to get the stage ready for the “grand opening” (a nervous energy I remember all too well from having staged a number of college performances). And while, running some 15 minutes, it may seem to drag on a bit, this little warm up was a great way to get the crowd ready for the antics and laughs soon to come.

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Paging Mr. Fish… An Evening at the London Aquarium

After many months of planning to do so, my friend and I finally made it to the London Sea Life Aquarium, located on the seemingly ever buzzing South Bank of the River Thames. Often when you build up something in your head, especially if it is a fond childhood memory, you’re in for some disappointment… But not this time! Despite a rather interesting episode where we were quickly ushered out of the building due to a “fire alarm going off”  (I have my doubts – especially because of the constant PA announcements for “Mr. Fish” to “come to the telephone” – that’s gotta be employee code!) we had a brilliantly exciting time exploring the rather extensive collection of sea and amphibious creatures at the Aquarium. We even topped off the whole adventure with a carousel ride (my first in like a decade!) and a jaunt through the rain to a whiskey house that ended up being closed.

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It’s Adventure Time!

No matter how much time you’ve spent in London, there are always new things to learn about this amazing city, and one very interesting way to do it is with the ‘Alternative London Tours’ offered by Insider London.

Yesterday the brand new batch of LUIP Student Ambassadors and the few of us from last year who are staying on as alums had the most terrible fun running about the city on our very own amazing race style adventure. Engaging both our minds and our sense of discovery, it was a most memorable and mirth-filled day – even the lack of sun and healthy dose of English rain couldn’t dampen our spirits as we ran about investigating clues, snapping pics and incessantly tweeting.

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A Kewl Day Out at the Royal Botanic Gardens

There is nothing so peaceful and relaxing as escaping to the beautiful serenity of nature of a warm sunny day. So a few days my friend and I, having the day off, went to the Kew Gardens to do just that. Well technically I’m not working right now so they’re all off days ; p

Walking around all afternoon we had the most amazing time exploring the various Greenhouse enclosures and the vast grounds. Though we were hard pressed to cover the entire area, we saw some beautiful canopy from the Tree Top Walkway and enjoyed soothing breezes through the Bamboo gardens. Though there are paths for the quick explorers, if you go “off-road”, as we took to doing, you can find some really beautiful and secluded spots to just stop, sit and enjoy the unbelievably fresh and clean air. I’m not kidding! Even though London is a fairly clean city, especially compared to some cities back in India, the air out at Kew is in a whole other league. I felt healthier just walking around ; p And some true hilarity ensued when we tried to leave and kept getting ourselves hopelessly lost.

I highly recommend you grab a few friends, pack a small picnic and set out to explore it for yourself. I just can’t believe that you’d be disappointed. Who knows, you might even make some new friends there ; ) And you would be horticulturists, be sure to drop by the Garden Shop on the way out.

Go here to plan your day out – Kew Gardens

The Notting Hill Carnival

I spent the long weekend camped at my friend’s place in Notting Hill enjoying a weekend of amazing music, food and company. If you weren’t at The Notting Hill Carnival this bank holiday weekend you really REALLY missed out! It truly was unbelievable to see so many people come together to celebrate. Notting Hill is usually a fun area to hang out in but this weekend it really did come alive! All ages and races, tourists and locals alike revealed in the Caribbean spirit.

Truth be told, I don’t even know where to begin describing the festivities over the two days. Day one, which is considered the ‘Children’s Day’ was more relaxed, but that’s not to say it wasn’t exhilarating. There were dozens of sound stages around the area, each playing mixes of Hip-Hop, Reggae, Electronic and everything else. If you didn’t like the music at one spot, it was easy as walking 5 minutes down the road and encountering 3 others. If you come next year I recommend checking out the spots on All Saint’s Road and Talbot Road.

But let’s not forget the food! Authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Roast Corn and Fried Plantains – a meal fit for a road side king : ) Speaking from experience, I’d say go to the stalls on Powis Square – the food was good and the lines not too long.

Day 2 was definitely more lively than the first, and everything that implies. Be prepared for larger crowds and getting everywhere taking a lot longer. But the energy of the people and the majesty of the parade definitely make it worthwhile. Though the latter didn’t start till 12-ish, it ran for hours and full of life and vivid colors. It is an absolute must see! For fellow photographers, I highly recommend catching them at on Westbourne Grove, down towards Colville Road. This area is slightly more open and the parade pauses there at points, making for a great viewing experience. And I definitely recommend getting into the area before 1, because it gets pretty crazy and public transportation can take forever!

I hope you like the shots. And I look forward to this brilliant weekend again. Hope to see you there too : )

Sunny Sunday Stroll

What better way to spend a beautiful day like today than walking around London basking in the sun! So that’s what my friend and I decided to do. We began our journey at the Soho Flea Market where we briefly enjoyed a performance by duo Lilygreen and Maguire (who were quite wonderful) before getting some tasty milkshakes at Ed’s Diner. From there we meandered about Trafalgar Square, walked up to Buckingham Palace (which is a lot smaller than I remember!) and then walked through beautiful Green Park. I managed to get some nice shots so I thought I’d share them before I lie down for a nice lazy sunday siesta : )

A Plea Against Fear

Mere hours ago a stranger walked up to me on the street and threatened to kill me.

A provocative way to start a story I know, but I’m not really in the mood to sugarcoat this. Walking along with my earphones in I was enjoying a pleasant walk from my friend’s place to the bus stop when a man in a blue hoodie approached me and began to say something. I paused my music so as to inquire what he was saying. He began to ask me if I was “That f**ker’s brother?” Unsure what he was talking about, I simply replied “No”. He then began to walk away, but no sooner had he taken a few steps ahead that he turned around and began to berate me once again. “You’re one of those c*nts that killed that guy didn’t you?” he said, “You think you’re gonna get me?!” I was speechless. I have had “encounters” before when people have made derogatory comments in my direction, but they have usually been in passing, usually by someone who has had one pint too many. But this man did not seem intoxicated, he seemed angry. He repeatedly lunged at me while repeating accusations that I was “one of those arabs that did that thing“. When I replied that I was Indian, he retorted, “You got the same f**kin brown skin don’t you, you f**kin c*nt!” At this point I slowly started backtracking as he angrily walked on. The last words he yelled at me, as he thankfully kept on in the opposite direction, were “You better watch yourself. Because I am going to slit your f**kin throat.”

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An Open Symphony

It’s been forever since I attended a classical music concert. I can’t really even remember the last one. Which is why I was happy I managed to make it to Trafalgar Square yesterday for the Open Air Classics free concert where the London Symphony orchestra performed the Symphony Fantastique by Hector Berlioz.

Unfortunately, due to moving hassles, I didn’t make it to the square till 6, the concert being scheduled to begin at 6:30. So you can imagine that by this point it was rather full. In fact access to the square itself had been cordoned off and shut – a fact one of the ladies in charge seemed to delight in reminding us of every 5 seconds through her bullhorn.

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A Visit to the London Zoo

When it comes to animals (by which I don’t mean pets but rather wildlife) I seem to revert to my 10-year-old self. I have always loved going to the Zoo and today I finally visited the London Zoo, having been meaning to go for ages. It was a really great day – walking around for hours and taking hundreds of photographs. Though next time I really will make sure not to go on a Bank holiday. The place was positively packed with tourists and families enjoying a day out in the beautiful sunshine.

I’m happy to share some of the better pictures form the day – But if you haven’t been before I recommend you check out the Zoo for yourself : )