Tag Archives: London

London Open House this weekend

On 21st and 22nd September many doors in London usually closed, inaccessible or priced will open up their doors to the public for free. This year, there are over 800 buildings open to the public.

What is Open House weekend?

London open houseOpen House is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes public awareness and awareness and appreciation of building design and architecture. The tours are guided and the guides are volunteers.

This is part of the Open House Worldwide where a similar concept exists in several countries like USA (New York and Chicago), Ireland (Dublin, Limerick and Galway), Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), Finland (Helsinki), Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane), Spain (Barcelona), Slovenia, Italy (Rome), Portugal (Lisbon), Argentina (Buenos Aires) and Greece (Thessaloniki) Gdansk-Sopot-Gdynia in Poland, Athens in Greece, San Diego in USA and Vienna in Austria will join the Open House in 2014.

“Open House is a unique and vibrant annual event, offering people across London the chance to explore and learn about the capital’s architecture,” said Victoria Thornton, Founding Director of Open City.

How to access the buildings

Some buildings are booked via ballots while some have to be pre-booked in advance. However, a vast majority of the buildings are on first come first served basis.

People from different parts of the UK and Europe camp around popular sites to as these sites witness serpentine queues. Some of these sites include 30 St Mary Axe also knows as The Gherkin, Tower 42, Bank of England, Battersea Power Station, the Crossrail Liverpool Street Construction Site, City Hall and others.

The Highlights

The theme this year is “Celebrating architecture, people and place”.

The highlights are 10 Downing Street, The View from the Shard, London Eye and Gray’s Inn, the booking of which has been done through a ballot. The Olympic park has also been opened to the public this year.

“Open House London gives people the chance to explore some of London’s most unique and celebrated buildings. As the official residence and office of British Prime Ministers since 1735, Number 10 Downing Street is a truly historic address. I’m delighted to be opening up the famous black door for the first time this year,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Guide

The Open House London Guide provides a comprehensive list of buildings, tours, expert-led walks and other activities.

Open House Junior contains lists of events for children.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under UK

The Notting Hill Carnival

Dance, music and masquerade. This is what London will witness during the bank holiday weekend at the Notting Hill Carnival.IMG_3624

The Notting Hill Carnival is taking place on 25th and 26th August in London. The annual festival was started in 1964 by the Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and tradition. This year will be the 49th carnival.

Largest street festival in Europe.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest carnival in the world after the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The carnival is a true chance to witness the diversity of London with its vibrancy and zest.

The parade

IMG_3601

The parade is the carnival procession that begins at 9 am on Sunday and Monday. Sunday is carnival’s children’s day with a shorter parade and chances to win prizes. The main parade is on Monday. The carnival after-parties will begin once the parade has finished and the floats leave the area.

The Afro-Caribbean specialities

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

There are several stalls serving traditional Caribbean food and drink like the jerk chicken or pork with rice and peas, curried goat, fried plantain, Jamaican patties, Red Stripe lager, coconut water, rum punch.

There will be traditional and contemporary sounds in the air right from Reggae, Steel Pan, Calypso and R&B to Soca, House, Funk and many more.

Useful tips

  • Leave you car at home. Many tube stations will either be closed or have time restrictions. The best modes of transport are your legs.
  • The area will be crowded. Thieves will make hay while the sun shines so keep valuables at home.
  • The streets and footpath will be overflowing with people so do not carry heavy luggage and buggies.
  • Due to overcrowding, mobile phone networks can get jammed.
  • Carry cash, as food stalls don’t accept cards. Getting to a cash point in the crowd can be a pain and some cash points do run out of money.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, UK

The Olympic Experience of a Lifetime

The UK had been preparing to host the Olympics after it won the bid on 6th July, 2005.

Seven years later, the city had been spruced up to handle visitors from all over the world. People of different nationalities came to one place to support their team and to have a good time.

At the right place at the right time

I was working for the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) that is the official broadcaster of the Olympic Games. I applied for this job in February 2011 to work in July 2012. The competition was tough. My job description was to deliver the Olympics information to the rest of the world on a strict deadline.

This was indeed a privilege to be a part of the largest sporting event in the world in the centre of all the action. My venue was the North Greenwich Arena also known as the O2 Arena. The sports assigned to me were Artistic Gymnastics and Basketball Finals. Working behind the scenes, the atmosphere was exhilarating.

The Victory Ceremonies was my favourite part of the Olympics. The medal winners are presented with the medal and bouquet of flowers while the song “Chariots of fire” is being played in the background. Once the medals are presented, the national flags of the three countries are hoisted and the national anthem of the country winning the gold medal is played. The nationalism displayed was incredible

The benefits

My media accreditation gave me access to most venues. London is a very expensive city and travel costs are very high. My special Olympics Oyster card allowed me to free travel across London.

Working with the OBS gave me the opportunity to work and interact with broadcasters from all over the world. Each day was different. Everyday hundreds of journalists would walk through our Broadcast Information Office (BIO) doors asking for information on matches, player statistics, results, filming the game, press conferences and interviewing athletes. I was truly in a multicultural environment

As an employee of the official broadcaster, I was at the centre of all the activity, in the broadcast tribunes, mixed zone and the media centre. I got a very good view of the field of play. I was spotted on television channels in different parts of the world.

I knew nothing about both the games that were assigned to me but within no time, I became an expert in the field.

The Challenges

There were just too many people in London during the Olympics. The tube lines were packed. I had to go through airport like security check on every single day that I worked.

Journalists can be very bothersome and abusive. Working for the official broadcaster meant getting abused in different languages and putting the pesky journalists in their place whenever needed. But at the end of the day, we understand that they are doing their job, as they are answerable to their channels.

The memorabilia

I got to keep two sets of my uniform consisting of beige trousers, green polo t-shirt, green cap, blue jacket, blue backpack and a blue trolley bag.

Every participating country and most media companies have their own pins and badges that they give away. These are prices possessions among the volunteers and employees. It was almost like a competition of who could get the maximum number of pins and badges. These badges can be exchanged. I managed to collect about 20 of them.

After the Olympics

The 17 days that I worked for the Olympics has been the most memorable experience of my life and has been my best job so far. This is one event in my life that I will never forget. I met fantastic people. I made friends for life. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I hope to be a part of future Olympic Games.

I made the game and the game made me.

6 Comments

Filed under International, Media and Journalism, Olympics, Sports, UK

Where History Meets the Arts

The thought of the East India Company surely brings back unpleasant memories of our freedom struggle. However, with the passage of time, the company just made it to History books. At present, the East India Company is owned by UK based Indian Sanjiv Mehta and the furniture division called the East India Company Home is owned by Anurag Kanoria.

Located in Byculla, just around the zoo in New Great Eastern Mills, stands a sprawling 9,000 square feet double-decked showroom known as the East India Company Home.

The East India Company is the oldest company in the world that was formed on 1st January 1600 when the East India Company started colonising India. During its existence from the year 1600, the East India Company specialised in the trade of several commodities such as jute, sugar, saltpetre, cotton, silk, indigo dye, opium and tea. This company even had the largest defence force. After the uprising of 1857 against the East India Company, the British monarch took away the assets of the East India Company in order to prevent the latter from becoming more powerful. About four years ago Sanjiv Mehta acquired a 100% share in the East India Company from the original heirs. The furniture division is owned by Anurag Kanoria.

Tucked away within the premises of a crumbling mill, where the wild grass and broken walls show no sign of activity, an eager client will find his way along the tar road. The East India Company Home today, boasts of elegant pieces of furniture with intricate works of art handmade by their own carpenters and craftsmen. “Each piece of furniture is made of rosewood, walnut wood or Burma teak which is of very good quality,” says Anurag Kanoria, the owner of East India Company Home.

The East India Company has its head office in London. The company showrooms are currently in Mumbai and in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The third showroom will open shortly in Thailand. By the end of next year, the company plans to open showrooms in London, New Zealand, Moscow and the United States of America.

Konoria holds a master’s degree in Aesthetics and doctorate in Literature with Aesthetics as a specialisation. Thus, giving him an edge in furniture design. Kanorias furniture company earlier specialised only in high end furniture and interiors. After taking over the furniture division of the East India Company, Kanoria began to stock premium antique furniture.

Every piece of furniture is crafted in a limited edition. “Since the clients pay a premium for our furniture, they expect exclusivity from us. Therefore, we do not repeat models. If it is single model furniture, we do not make more than 12 pieces. However, the higher the price of the furniture the lesser number of units are made,” says Kanoria. “Even if we do repeat the furniture, we ensure that it is well spread out and does remain in the same showroom. In this way, the chance of someone spotting an identical piece is negligible,” says Kanoria.

The store is not just unique for its furniture but also for its collection of crockery and panels. Right from dinner plates and side plates of 22 carat to glasses, candle stands and napkin rings; the store has it all. Each dinner plate is hand painted. Even the embroidery and crochet on the upholstery of the furniture has been completed manually.

The store also specialised in Art Nouveau style of furniture. “We are the only manufacturer of art nouveau style furniture in the world,” says Kanoria.

Wood being the core raw material for the furniture could pose as an environmental hazard. “We are an environment friendly company. We make use of recycled wood obtained from government authorised plantations,” says Kanoria. “90% of the wood that we use is obtained from the wood that has been used in buildings. There are many buildings built during the British rule, which are now being demolished. The quality of wood back then was very good. Our evaluators evaluate the wood and then recycle them for making furniture,” he adds. The variety of recycled wood is Burma teak.

The furniture sold by the company is very elaborate and given the fact that real estate prices are increasing at an alarming rate, people try their best to save every inch of space. “Our clients include industrialists, NRIs, expatriates and people across the world that has sprawling houses and spending power. We advise people to take crockery or just single unit furniture in case they have a space crunch,” says Kanoria. Since the company also deals with interiors, the company provides flooring, upholstery, curtains, lights and taps that would suit the theme of the furniture.

Kanoria feels very privileged to be associated with the East India Company. “The name of the company holds a lot of weight and depth. Not only does it carry along with it history and culture but also a feeling of nostalgia and worth,” says Kanoria. queens charterAs the owner of the East India Company Homes, Kanoria uses the symbol of the Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. Thus, on the first floor landing, there is a stained glass window with the imperial Coat of Arms of the East India Company with the words “originally established in 1600 by a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I”. In addition, Kanoria is one among the privileged few to have access to archives of the Royal family and of the East India Company in London. Sourced from the archives, hanging on the walls of the showroom are black and white photographs and maps of the East India colonies and books on the company history are placed on the tables kept on display.

4 Comments

Filed under Art, India, UK