Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lexus Experience

If somebody would ask me the top 5 brands of cars that I would like to ride in, Lexus would be right up there ! Lexus was always a dream, and destiny made sure that this dream comes true :)

I receive a mail from Lee Barnett (our Engagement Manager in the US) inviting me to a drinks-and-dinner party that evening. He was visiting the UK on a vacation, and just wanted to get in touch with the Directors here, and a few of us, who were working on projects related to his department. I confirmed with him that I would be there for sure !

The time was 6 pm… We would be going to a modern bar in Brighton, called Ha Ha’s for a drink or two… Followed by a dinner at Donatello’s (A classic Italian restaurant – One of the very good ones in Brighton). I had a few meetings that afternoon, but got late in the last one… It was already 5.15, when I was getting ready to leave, but realized that if I take the train back, it would be pretty late, and I would not be able to make it by 6. And since this was my first ‘corporate party’, I would have liked to be on time :) I quickly checked out the list of invitees on the invitation I received from Lee that morning. Phil Higson was one of them. I went over to Phil, and asked if I could hop on with him for the party. He had no problems at all, and we headed straight for the parking lot.

In the partking lot, there were only 3 cars parked… One was a small Volkswagen. The other was a longish car (Couldn’t see the brand). There was another sports utility vehicle parked at the far end. I only wished this was Phil’s !! And the next moment, he walks straight upto that one – And says, “Hop in !”. And guess what it was !?? A Lexus !!! It was a Lexus SUV – Which I was getting a chance to ride in :) As I got in, I was just amazed at the interiors, the navigator (which helps you track the roads you are on), the sun roof, the dashboard ! We were conversing about something… But I don’t even remember what it was about J The only thing I was thinking is, “Am I really sitting in a Lexus ? Good that I worked longer… Otherwise I would have been on the usual train :)”.

So, that was a dream come true… A Lexus SUV to ride in… Thanks Phil, for that beautiful ride :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ultimate Knighthood - My first day here !

UK (or United Kingdom, as most would put it) for me is a country of Ultimate Knighthood. The day I landed here, I felt a sense of professionalism in the air... Everybody 'appears' so courteous, that you fall for it ! UK is definitely a country of gentlemen - Very good when it comes to grandeur and formalities...

I had a lovely flight (courtesy Jet Airways) - a direct one from the Sahar International Airport, Mumbai to the Heathrow, London. I had heard that Heathrow was the busiest airport in the world, but when I landed here at 6.45 in the morning, I got a taste of it, when I had to queue up for close to 50 mins for my immigration check ! That's because 5-6 flights had landed together (within a span of 15 mins). But the airport is so well organized, that you just don't realize it. Most officials on the airport are Indians, so it felt like home the moment i landed here :) Baggage checking was very smooth, and I passed through it like a breeze !

I knew I had a taxi booked for me, so I thought it's time to encash my first Traveller's Cheque at the American Express counter there (coz i needed to pay the taxi guy as well). As I go to the counter, what do I see ??!! Two officials at the counter, and both Indians :) The one that i encountered here was pretty rude though, and not a smile on her face ! I said, "What the heck... She might just have had a bad day !" and moved on :)

On my way out, I came across a few duty free shops at the airport... So, was just looking around a bit, when I heard an announcement.... "Mr. Samit Tibrewala - You are requested to report to the Information Desk immediately". My heart was in my mouth as I heard this... Maine socha ki, "Abhi to aaya hoon... Abhi se hi loche ?? Would it be regarding immigration problems ? Would it be regarding customs issues ??". I then, forgot about the duty free shops, and headed straight for the information desk. And there I see the taxi driver waiting for me, with a placard with him :) I was like.... "Sorry, I'm a bit late... Immigration took longer than expected" and thanked my fortunes ;)

By the time I walked upto the taxi, I saw quite a few cars on the way... My first three being - Ford Mondeo, Mitsubishi Charisma and a BMW. I was flattered and zapped right there :) When I reached my taxi, I was re-zapped ;) It was a Skoda Octavia (One of the very low-end cars here) !!! So, loaded my luggage, and there I was - Off to Brighton - My destination !

The drive from London to Brighton was just breath-taking ! It took me around an hour-an-a-half to reach my hotel in Brighton, where I decided to take some rest, and just cool off ! I had known that Brighton is by the sea, and has a beautiful beach to it's name... I was glad to know that my hotel was a couple of mins away from the same beach :D

The first day was pretty chilled out, with me exploring the seafront a bit, and then crashing off very early (at 5 in the evening) to wake up the next day !!! (The advantage of reaching the place early - The jetlag's already dealt with !). That brings me to my first day @ office... Something that I had looked forward to, since a long long time... Something that I'd love to comment on - But in another BloG entry :)