Back to Base

by vpundir | November 9th, 2007

This week I was out of town. My firm was facilitating culture-change workshops at hotels in Croydon and Gatwick for a large corporation. It was strange being away this week as both places were within easily commutable distances from my home. But my colleagues wanted to enjoy the hospitality of the hotels at the company’s expense, and I didn’t want to rock the boat, especially since I don’t plan to work for this company for much longer.

One of my colleagues christened Croydon as “the hellhole of England”. The Sesldon Park Hotel is quite good, though. It is comfortable, and has a well-landscaped golf course. It would appear, however, that the English haven’t quite caught up to the American concept of business hotels. For while Selsdon Park is a four star place, it lacks some basic things one would expect: a radio alarm-clock (or any kind of alarm clock, for that matter) in the room, for instance. Or a vending machine where one could pick up a bottle of water or a snack at 1 am. My cribbing notwithstanding, the place does lend itself to leisurely walks in lush surroundings.

The Wednesday and Friday workshops were at the Gatwick Hilton, which is not bad at all for a transit hotel. However, I found the Felbridge Hotel, where we had the Thursday event, to be a much better venue for corporate workshops. It’s quieter, plusher, classier, more comfortable, and frankly has better conference halls.

Click here to check out my pictures from Croydon of 6 Nov 2007.

On Friday evening, after having a look at the train schedule boards, I buy a Gatwick Express ticket with the intention of breaking my journey at Redhill to celebrate Diwali at a friend’s place. Unfortunately, it would seem that I read the boards wrong for the Gatwick Express does not call anywhere between Gatwick and Victoria. So essentially I reach Victoria and take a Southern train back to get to Redhill.

Even so, I reach my friend’s place before she was expecting me. Turns out she decided to “work from home” and slept through most of the afternoon, meaning that she hasn’t had the time to make the laddoos. Argh!

While her husband had planned to get home early, the day is hardly going as per plan and he is stuck at work. So while we wait for him to get home, we chat as she irons the laundry. But it takes so long that I end up calling a couple of friends in New Delhi and doing a bit of shopping at the Sainsbury’s around the corner before he finally arrives.

There is a quick ritualistic worship of Lakshmi and Ganesh. I help the duo make some laddoos, and then it’s time for fireworks. We go down and meet some of their colleagues and friends, and together light up the fireworks. Consuming the whole stock takes close to 2 hrs, much to the charging of the British neighbors, I am sure.

The pyrotechnic material exhausted, we suddenly remember that we are hungry and rush back home. While some of us part ways, about 12 of us go up to my friend’s place where we are served daal-stuffed paranthas, matar paneer, mirch ka achar and Bollywood music. I gobble it all down with ferocity and get out of the door just as the clock strikes 0020, leaving the others behind to booze, gambling and stale jokes.

While the National Rail website lists two trains to Victoria between 0030 and 0100 hrs, it turns out that due to maintenance work, there are no more trains departing from Redhill tonight. Instead of going back to my friend’s place, I take a taxi home. The cab ride ends up costing me a cool £52. Heck, for that amount of money, I could have taken a return EasyJet flight to Basel or Marseilles. Oh, well!

Click here to check out my Diwali pictures (9 Nov 2007).

Comments are closed.

About This Site

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa.