The year couldn’t have started any better! At the stroke of midnight, the London Eye burst into a magnificent array of colours, as the New Year fireworks lit up the winter sky…..and my mates and I were there amidst the tens of thousands of crazy revellers gathered along the freezing banks of the river Thames to witness the spectacle!
Trying to bridge the gap between the Capitalists and the Communists at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin ;)
February saw me head back home to Kerala after over a year, for a refreshing, yet ultra-hectic vacation. The highlight of the trip was of course, spending a whole day […and night] on a beautiful house-boat with my parents, sister and niece, in the middle of the spectacular backwaters of Alapuzha in Kerala. The place does indeed do justice to the title ‘God’s own country’, and is definitely up there amongst the greatest places that I’ve visited around the world!
Houseboat at Alapuzha, Kerala
Then there was the much awaited re-union of our school batch at Thrissur. DeBatchians had come down from all parts of India and even from as far as Singapore. Some of us were catching up for the first time after having left school 9 years ago, and I followed it up by making a trip to school as well, along with old classmate Ranjith.
The DeBatch reunion
Towards the end of the month, my parents and I paid a visit to good ol’ Bangalore to catch up with friends and family there. The city’s woes, sadly, seem to have deteriorated horribly, but nevertheless, it was good to be back and relive the old times.
The festivities continued well into March with my cousin Swetha getting married at Calicut and we also managed to sneak in a visit to Coimbatore and Cochin, before my 3 week vacation ended.
By April, spring had finally arrived in the UK and over the Easter holidays, Sreejith aka Maadan came down from London and we went around on cycling expeditions, most notably to the Severn Bridge, bordering England and Wales.
And then in the month-end, my parents flew in to Britain and after staying with me for 3 days, departed to the Netherlands to spend some time with my brother and his wife, there.
May was definitely the highlight of the year …..Bharat returned back from India on a new assignment, and our gang was all back together again :) Moreover, there were two bank holiday weekends in the month, and the first one saw me flying off to the stunning coastline of Cote d’Azure, in the French Riviera. Abhinav gave me company and for 3 days, we found ourselves lost amidst the glitz and glamour of the adjacent cities of Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo/Monaco! The crystal clear waters, sun-kissed beaches and stylish promenades were amazingly gorgeous, and this being the playground of the rich, the streets were adorned with swanky Ferraris and Lamborghinis!
The French Riviera - Nice, Cannes & Monte Carlo
May also saw me head off to Switzerland for the second time in as many years, but this time to join my parents and my brother & sister-in-law, who were holidaying there.
Us at Switzerland
A week later, my folks returned back to Bristol and went on to spend 3 weeks with me, during which we went around Bristol, Cornwall, London and Oxford, among other places.
Parents in UK
In June, my folks returned to India and I suddenly found myself doing my cooking, cleaning and laundry all by myself again :P Also, June 14th marked a major milestone in my career, as I completed five long years in Torry Harris and in the IT industry ! This called for a celebration, and so, the three surviving Bootcamp-15 members based in Bristol – Manasa, Vishnu and I, did just that.
5th anniversary of Bootcamp 15 in Bristol
Later in the month, it was time to pay my pilgrimage to Wimbledon. Abhinav and I queued up overnight for the tickets, but frustratingly, we couldn’t get Centre Court [....last year, Bharat and I had slept under the open sky in the rain and got the tickets we wanted...This time though, we had invested in a real tent, but not a drop poured out from the sky, nor did we get Centre Court tickets...and that meant not being able to watch Federer in action :( ] Nevertheless, we managed to get Court 1 tickets and got to watch some interesting matches, including one of the toughest battles of the Championship, between Tommy Haas and Marin Cilic.
July was business as usual. There were movies [‘Hangover’ – ooh, what a movie!], birthday parties [Yathi’s much delayed treat at ‘Flavours’], and some catching up with old friends [when college-mate Karthik came over to Bristol].
August was celebration time :) There were three birthdays lined up in the month – Ramappa’s, Akansha’s and of course, mine……. and too many occasions to party! The festivities kicked off on the eve of my birthday, and was carried over to London in the weekend when I went to visit my cousin there, and finally culminated back in Bristol, with a combined day-long celebration for the whole gang!
Party time !
Also, in August, the much awaited U2 360-degree tour concert took place at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Anil, Javid, Adarsh and I were there to cheer Bono and the boys as they belted out hit after hit from their impressive collections. It was a dream come true to watch Bono live in action and unfortunately, Abhinav, who had originally booked our tickets could not make it as he was sent back to India at just the wrong time.
U2 rocking away to glory at Cardiff !
September was the month of adventures! From serving as race marshalls at the annual Bristol half-marathon, indulging in adventure sports in Wales, to taking part in long distance cycling expeditions, we’ve been there and done that :)
At Wales, Ommer, Anil, Ramappa, Bharat and I spent a day abseiling down abandoned arch bridges, trekking upstream across the freezing waters of a winding gorge [.... scaling cascades that came in the way] and crawling through narrow, murky, dark caves…..all for the thrill of some adrenalin rush !
September Adventures !
Later in the month, Sixto, Anil, Mahendra, Bharat, Ramappa and I cycled 40 miles from Bridgwater to Tiverton through the English countryside to raise money for Oxfam. We had never pushed ourselves this far before and it was a test not just to our battered bodies, but to our minds and our bikes, as well. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we did make it, though the same can’t be said about some of our bikes ;)
The Oxfam bike ride
September also saw Rama heading back to India for good, to join the offshore team and also to get married. It was slowly starting to become evident that the gang wouldn’t be together for too long.
In October, we had our massive Diwali celebrations. We all gathered at Akansha’s place for lunch, and the guys had cooked amazing dishes – right from starters, to various main courses, to sweets ! We also walked down to the Diwali fest happening at the local town centre, and arranged fire-crackers that we burst at Woodlands Court in the night!
Diwali at Bristol
On November 1st, Rama finally got married to Charanya, but unfortunately no one from our gang was there at the wedding. Two weeks later, we saw Akansha off at Heathrow, as she flew to India for her wedding. In quick succession, Bharat got sent back to India for good, and I had to start looking for a house-mate all over again. As someone else also pointed out, I suddenly started feeling like Joey in the final season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S with all his mates either getting married or moving away :) But on the brighter side, I managed to clear my driving practical test in the first attempt and became the proud owner of a British Driving Licence :)
Before I could even realize it, December was here and as always, it felt as if the year had just flown by. The big event of the month was of course, Akansha’s wedding to Varun at Lucknow on the 10th. However, I was stuck here battling the British winter and couldn’t make it. Anil, though, was in India at the time and along with Bharat, had a gala time at the wedding.
The Christmas season was fun at office, thanks to the chilled out work atmosphere and the many office parties/get-togethers that took place. Tony very kindly introduced us to a traditional 3-course British Christmas dinner, at a fantastic English pub in Bristol called Dovecotes […where I tried Turkey for the first time :)]…and of course, there was Vic’s farewell party…. and his grand night-out at the BSB club! Also, for the first time in the 4 winters that I’ve spent in Britain, we had a white Christmas !
White Christmas in Bradley Stoke !
My friends got back from India just in time for New Year, and we welcomed 2010 in a rather mellow manner at a Thai restaurant in Bristol !
New Year's eve at 'Thai Classic'
Looking back, 2009 has not been all that bad. It had its moments of glory, and I shall definitely remember it for Berlin, Nice, my parents’ visit, my British driving licence, loads of Nandos chicken :), the parties and the many wonderful movies that we’ve watched at the cinemas , including ‘Revolutionary Road’ [ …kinda disturbing, nevertheless, an absolute masterpiece ! Akansha, Anil and I just cannot stop talking about this movie to this day], ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘The Inglorious Basterds’, ‘State of play’, ‘The taking of Pelham 123’ and of course, the outstandingly hilarious ‘Hangover’ :) ….not to mention, the many superb TV programmes on my favourite BBC channels!
[There have been disastrous movies as well, but lemme try and keep this post as positive as possible ;) ]
Bring on 2010 !