Tuesday, February 28, 2012


On my third trip to London and my sister's first my father thought it wise to give us a cultural tour of the city, most of it on foot though as the London Eye had not yet been built.

After the usual sights like the Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace it was the turn of the Tower of London.

We took in the grounds, the white tower and saw how the old monarchy had lived and even saw two of the six resident ravens, the widely believed custodians of the British Monarchy, sipping on water in the warm August sun.

Then the piece de resistance, the crown jewels... the main reason behind spending the £18 per person ticket, to see what our history books had told us.. The Koh-i-noor. It was exciting to enter into the jewel house with the tall and emotionless beefeaters standing guard. In the vault like display room as we were being urged by the ushers to "keep moving" but as we saw it we paused just a while longer at the Koh-i-noor. The world famous diamond at 105 carats and the star of the Queens crown. We truly were in awe.

My father in a moment of proud patriotism pointed out the diamond and said in Hindi; just to be sure that he puts his true feelings across to his children without drawing stares from the rest of the tourists,.."yeh hamare desh se chura ke laye the"..(they stole this from our country) . Just at that moment one of the Yeomen Warders who was right next to us says in chaste Punjabi " Himmat hai te ley ja wapas"....(If u have the guts, try to take it back).

The three of us were so stunned that we were left open mouthed like a fish out of water. We didn't know what hit us..we were like rooted and paralyzed as my father just kept staring at the bearded elderly beefeater refusing to believe what he had just heard.

It must have been the longest 30 seconds of our lives...as the beefeater smiled and said "Been married to a Sikh for 30 years and she didn't want to learn so I had to.....keep moving"... The look on his face of having taken the mickey out of us with his wit and element of surprise made us get back to reality and smile.

This event has been the highlight of my many visits to London and made me understand the level of penetration and integration of various immigrant cultures into mainstream British Life. Even today while saying anything in Hindi or Punjabi anywhere in the world I do always look around expecting a comment from the most unexpected quarters...Once bitten..Twice Shy..

The above is an official entry for the http://www.expedia.co.in/ and indiblogger contest.


  1. Hahaha... Touche indeed. When I had gone to see the Kohinoor diamond there were groups of Indian and Pakinstani AND Iranian tourists - all of whom were claiming ownership to the diamond. It was really amusing to see each group tell the children in their group how the diamond belonged to them :-)

  2. Ha ha, good one :-) Well, to be fair, atleast the Kohinoor is safe in London. If it comes to India, it might just land in some private coffers!

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