Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An English Christmas...

Right from Agatha Christie to Charles Dickens, everyone raves about an English Christmas. Just to what find out what all the hype was about, I decided to spend Christmas in London this year.

Here are some of the things I really enjoyed and hence have decided to include in the ''must-do'' list.

Watch a Pantomime
A Pantomime is a musical-comedy mostly performed during the christmas and New year season. I saw the ''Sleeping beauty''. I was initially skeptical when I learnt that the show was nearly for 3 hours and hardly anyone had come there without a kid. But it turned out to be 3 hours of pure and unadulterated fun.

The actors were brilliant and whats more they all had radiant smiles and really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. The show was very interactive and the audience was allowed to boo the villian (-ess), sigh with the princess when she falls in love and wish for a ''happily ever after'' ending. The crew threw chocolates into the crowd, came running through spraying everyone with water guns, had gorillas that scared the living daylights out of some kids, made the audience sing and dance with them...ohh I felt I was 13 and was taking part in a school annual day !

The best part was when a couple of the really small kids were called on stage and were asked questions by the court jester (CJ). Here are some of the ''brilliant'' answers
CJ: Where do you live ?
Kid1 (after a lot of thinking): Home
Kid2 (after a lot of looking around): hmm...
CJ: never heard better answers !

CJ: what did you get for christmas ?
Kid1: hmm...nothing
Kid2 (with a sheepish smile): hmm...forgot
CJ: well, between the two of you, you are keeping the christmas spirit alive !

Enjoy the Christmas lights
Walking through Oxford street and Regent Street on Christmas Day was amazing inspite of the biting cold weather (click on the photo for a larger version).

Christmas lights, LondonFor someone coming from Munich, where christmas decorations are confined mostly to the city centre, seeing rows and rows of lights in all possible shapes and colors was just too festive to miss. Going on Christmas day would ensure that you will not get clobbered by crazy shoppers (its God's day, noone shops much to the relief of most men)

Christmas PuddingEat Christmas pudding
If there is something worth eating in the English cuisine, its surely the Christmas pudding. Made with nuts, raisins and alcohol (mostly cognac), it is definitely a dessert worth gaining a few pounds for (atleast thats my excuse for now) !

Do some ''Boxing day'' Shopping
All stores have a massive sale on Boxing day. I saw items that had 70% discount. Well, yes, you should have had some experience in Ranganathan street to combat the crazy women (and sometimes men) in the crowded stores and if you are prudent, you will shop online or visit some stores away from Central London where the chances of you being mobbed are less likely !

Visit a Castle
I went to the Windsor castle and was pleasantly surprised by very few visitors.

Windsor CastleSince most people use the christmas vacation to catch up with families, sightseeing places like Castles are hardly crowded and this is a once-in-a-year opportunity for a highly touristy place like London.

Besides this I also had fun with a school friend, a college friend, a distant cousin, nearly emptied Saravana Bhavan in Eastham, saw Manmadhan Ambu in Cineworld (and felt jealous about how desi movies were screened and advertised just like English movies - for someone in a city where only 2 theatres screen English movies and desi movies are confined to one show, this is a big deal!) and ate a looooooot of really good desi food (to an extent that I should live only on water for the rest of the year!)

An English Christmas in London is a lot of fun, an English Christmas in London with near and dear ones is super duper fun !

Copyright for Pantomime photo: Odos Entertainment
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