Friday, April 27, 2007

London notes

I'd heard that London has the best Indian food and I'd believed it before coming here. After coming here, though, I had my doubts. Every street has at least one Indian restaurant, and they all have similar names - "Kwality", "Paradise" etc. How can you get quality food in this crowd? I looked up lots of reviews and they all praised places like Zayka (50 pounds a pop) or Masala Zone, supposedly a chaat place. I asked the Pakistani chap at the bookstore and he recommended Star of India. So that's where I headed for dinner today. And it did not disappoint. The kofta kadhi was exquisite and the bhindi raita was uniquely cool - rich dahi and a very exotic blend of spices - and even the chutneys were rather unique...

I decided to take a walk before dinner and found myself in front of the Victoria & Albert Museum. There was quite a crowd there even though it was past 7. Turns out that the museum is open until 10pm on Fridays.

There were lots of young people inside and a couple of cutting-edge groups were performing. One group was some sufi-rocker types - very nice voices. The second was a group outside performing some kind of a Brazilian martial art to some very cool music. Lots of young people in the museum, the entry for which was free. Out on the streets, every bar was full with people drinking beer on the streets as well.

Earlier today (Friday afternoon), I found myself near St. Paul's Cathedral and there was a lot of activity there at the Paternoster Square as well. Lots of tourists, but lots of cool-looking restaurants as well.

London is very expensive and the guy at the bookstore said they're "feeling squeezed" financially, but the diversity is incredible.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Are Gujjus the Hispanics of Britain?

There's a show playing on BBC TV right now where the narrator is showing a Gujju family in Britain with grandparents etc. and saying things like "The Shahs haven't made sure their kids are completely fluent in English. There is no incentive for the kids to speak English in the household. But father Vijay tries his best..."

The problems described are strikingly similar to those faced by second-generation Hispanic kids in the US (ghetto language). Instead of first-generation parents talking in a mix of Spanish and English to their kids or answering the interviewer in Spanish-accented English, it is Gujarati and English, and Gujarati-accented English respectively. Hmm... Will need to investigate...

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