mcgillianaire: (Bedouin in Desert)
DID YOU KNOW? -- 55% of the London Underground network is actually above the ground!

The UK is/was under imminent attack this weekend, but you'd've found it difficult to believe the same on the ground. I traveled around the city by bus, train and even underground, but there wasn't any noticeable increase in security, or decrease in passenger volumes. If anything, the tube journey from Kings Cross to London Bridge on Saturday morning/afternoon, was busier than usual. Life goes on.

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The ATM celebrated its 40th anniversary on June 27th. What's really cool is that the world's first ATM was installed at a Barclays Bank branch in Enfield Town. And who banks at Barclays Bank in Enfield Town? Me and my family! As it happens, the first ATM my dad ever used (in 1980) was the same one installed by John Shepherd-Barron in 1967. (Well, not exactly the same ATM, but the updated version in the same location). I have also opened my first British bank account at the same Barclays branch and what's more, its historical ATM is the only one I've used since arriving here. Each time I use it, I feel like I'm a part of (its) history. (See pic below)

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Thanks to living in the UK now, I've been able to watch Wimbledon LIVE, online, and for free! And it's not just one match, but three separate live streams. There's even a separate stream for watching specific-day summary capsules. How cool is that? Apparently, the Beeb relays all its sporting broadcasts for free online, but it's a pity they don't have a monopoly on British sports anymore. That said, Channel 4 has a free online service as well but I don't think they show sporting stuff. Either way, with a new registration at UK Nova and the existing free services, I can delay getting a Tele and paying those damn license fees.

=====

Last weekend, I went out with some friends to Central London. We ate dinner at this American Steak House called Bodean's. I recommend it for anybody who loves meat and American sports. They show all major NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA games LIVE. It's just off Soho. Later that night we went to a nightclub off Oxford Street called Mo*vida. It's not your typical nightclub as entrance is either members-only or £20 ($40). Luckily for me, one of my friends saved the life of the owner's son last New Year's (no joke) and got a year's worth of free membership. The membership normally costs £500 ($1000). My friend can take one guest for free and it happened to be me that night! Anyways, usually when you pay such a high cover, you expect the drinks to be somewhat reasonable. Not Mo*vida. Heineken's are £5 ($10) each and a shot of tequila is £8.50 ($17). It's expensive but classy and very popular with celebrities. On the night we went, I saw Michelle Yeoh and Jesse Metcalfe. Stupid as I was, I spurned an opportunity to hit the VIP room just as we were waiting in line to get into it. What was I thinking? Prince William could've been there. He's known to hit it up from time-to-time!

And finally, as I had promised some weeks ago: the first installment of pictures I've taken from around the world. The theme for this post is Dubai which my family and I visited at the end of last year! In the next installment, look forward to some Shanghai!

Till then, Cheerio!

Pictures! )
mcgillianaire: (England 2006)
A major terrorist attack has apparently been averted in Central London today. Crikey!

I've also just discovered that two outta the 3 MPs in my London Borough are on Facebook. The third MP, Joan Ryan, represents the constituency that I am currently living in. She isn't on Facebook, but she lives in the neighbourhood and was an Undersecretary of State for the Home Office till yesterday. After growing up in Oman and paying closer attention to Indian politics, I'd almost forgotten just how accessible Western politicians were. Not that I expect to be getting in touch with any of them soon, but still.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon is underway and unfortunately for British fans, Tim Henman has crashed out once again. How long will it take local fans to realize that he is worse now than he ever was before and will never win the damn championship. Even his defeat of Moya wasn't totally convincing and I'm glad he's gone. It's great to see the home-boy support but the fact is, Henman hasn't won two matches in a row at a tournament since October 2006. He should consider retiring but apparently he has plans to play in three more Wimbledons. Why Timmy, why? Haven't you tortured us enough all these years?

In other significant news, London and the rest of England goes smokefree on Sunday. The non-cigarette smokers amongst us will rejoice, but shisha smokers like myself are bitterly disappointed. One of the reasons I had looked forward to moving to London was to enjoy evenings at Edgware Road's shisha cafes. Even an online petition will not make any difference though the good men at the British Department of Health could take a leaf outta the Montreal book. The Quebecois made an exception for shisha-dedicated cafes and so should we. People don't go to shisha cafes just to eat kebabs and watch ladies with boob jobs croon ballads on Arabic TV.

And finally, Big Brother. The reality TV show made global headlines earlier this year following the Celebrity racism row, but I'm talking about the other one, the real one, the one that really counts. Big Brother is a British institution. It's important to know what's happening in Britain's most watched and talked about house, because you may find yourself out of depth in a dinner party conversation. Everybody knows at least a little bit about what's happening, however much they try to deny it. I personally hope Billy and Charley get evicted, and predict one of the twins to win the whole thing. But what really disturbed me the other day, was the ignorance professed by one of the characters. I won't give names or ethnicity, but he honestly didn't know who Shakespeare was. His look of ignorance was absolutely priceless. How the heck do you grow up in Britain and not know who Bill Shakespeare is? Priceless, I tell ya. Simply priceless.

Till next time, Cheerio!
mcgillianaire: (Default)
DID YOU KNOW? -- EDITION VI
  • $2.7 billion is the net profit of India's largest private-sector company, Reliance Industries, in 2006/07.

  • $149 million is the amount paid by Mumbai-based Hotel Leela Venture for 3 acres of land in south Delhi.

  • $3.7 million is the total income tax paid by Bollywood actor, Hritik Roshan, in 2006/07.

  • 500 is the number of Indian armed forces personnel discharged from service every year for mental disorders and alcoholism.

  • 47% is the growth of Tamil Nadu's IT-sector in 2006/07.
mcgillianaire: (Malibu)
DID YOU KNOW? -- EDITION V
  • $1.32 million is the estimated annual income of Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

  • 250 is the number of animals sacrificed at the Panchubaraha Temple at Sata bhaya village in Kendrapada, Orissa.

  • 40 is the number of new Indian news channels waiting for a license from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

  • 7% is the percentage of the world's left-handed population.

  • 30 years is the age of Chechnya's Ramzan Kadyrov, the world's youngest President.
mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)
DID YOU KNOW? -- EDITION IV
  • $132 million is how much China spent to improve West Indian cricket facilities in time for the recently concluded World Cup.

  • $2 million is the total worth of fake products destroyed by Chinese authorities during the 2nd week of March this year.

  • 500 is the number of Indian students at Virginia Tech University. They form the largest foreign contingent at a US campus.

  • 361 is the number of homemakers that committed suicide in Mumbai in 2005.

  • 257 is the number of female pilots working for civil airliners in India.
----

The Chinese investment in West Indian cricket goes beyond mere sporting strategic interests. Take Grenada for instance. Until recently, they were part of a handful of countries that recognized the Republic of China (basically Taiwan instead of mainland China). That was until the PRC pumped in the moolah and new political allegiances were hitched. Unfortunately for Grenada, during the official handing over of the Chinese-funded national stadium, the Royal Grenada Police Force Band played the Taiwanese national anthem and created a stir. Since then, I think order has been restored and the Politburo has forgiven the island-nation.

And as China uses its economic prowess to buy political alliances, it is also pacifying the forces-that-be in the WTO. I don't know what the total value of Chinese fake products is worth, but $2 million is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, for globetrotters such as yours truly, this is a depressing development. The metal on my $6 fake Rolex is fading and I will soon need to buy a new one.

Meanwhile, not only does India have the largest number of foreign students in a single American college campus, it also has the largest number of foreign students in America. Thanks to current American immigration laws, a significant number of these students are forced to return home upon graduation. As the Indian economy grows at a rapid pace, and India Inc's access to a domestic pool of highly-skilled labor grows thin, these US graduates will play an increasingly significant role in plugging the brain drain gap. This is already happening in the IT-sector, but it will become important in other sectors too. (And just for the record, 500 Indian students at Virginia Tech pales in comparison to the 2,000 American students that attend McGill University in Montreal.)

More Randomness Tomorrow!
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
DID YOU KNOW? - EDITION II
  • $15 billion is the total inflow of FDI into India in FY 2006/07. $7 billion alone arrived in the last 3 months.

  • 40 million is the proposed annual passenger carriage capacity for the new Mumbai International Airport at Navi.

  • 1.98 million is the number of new subscribers to BSNL in March, the highest-ever net addition by an ISP in a single month.

  • 4% to 12% is the rape conviction rate in India.

  • 108 feet is the height of India's tallest statue for the Hindu monkey-God, Lord Hanuman. Check it out at Delhi's Pusa Road.
More Tomorrow!
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Since I was a little boy, my dad would often repeat a mantra: "Tata will become India's 1st MNC. Just you wait and watch!" As happy and proud as that made me feel, I didn't really believe him. How could I? This was in the days when India was still smitten with outdated Ambassador cars, outdated Colgate toothpaste, outdated Cadbury chocolates, outdated Horlicks milk powder, outdated Bata shoes and best of all, outdated Doordashan TV programming. Amidst all this socialism, import-substitution and downright mediocrity, how could anyone have the audacity to predict an Indian MNC? Not even the great House of Tatas could escape the general mood of skepticism. Or could they?


The Tata Group is one of India's oldest & largest business conglomerates. It was founded in 1868 by Jamsetji Tata (right) as a trading company and since then it has grown leaps and bounds.

The Tata Group has always set itself apart )
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Tata Steel wins race for Corus
Five Pence Gives India a Pound of UK!

If you cannot recognize this man now, it's about time you did. Ratan Tata is the head of the more than century-old Tata Group and on Wednesday, his company made Indian business history. Tata Steel, the flagship company of the Tata Group made the largest ever foreign acquisition by an Indian company. Tata Steel is only the 56th biggest steel producer in the world but it managed to upstage its Brazilian competitor in a fierce contest spanning three months to takeover the world's 9th largest steel company. Together, the merger has the potential to create the 5th largest steel company in the world, and now, 2 of the Top 5 steel companies in the world are run by Indians.

India Inc, take a bow. The world is watching and perhaps not convinced; and maybe it was overpriced... but one thing is for sure: We Have Arrived.


Jai Hind!

/end irrational patriotic exhuberence
mcgillianaire: (Default)
"Gary Neville was also a talented cricketer in his teens; he played for the Bolton Cricket League and his biggest achievement was his partnership with Matthew Hayden when he scored 109 in 1992."
mcgillianaire: (Liverpool FC)
A friend of mine recently introduced me to the music video for Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up.

He loves it so much that he's decided to choose his friends according to whether they love the video or not. I must admit, it was different and pretty cool indeed. Or am I just sucking up? :)

Either way, check it out if you haven't already. Another one of those things everybody has already seen and I'm like the last person on the ball. :P
mcgillianaire: (Curry Dialysis)
It struck me just now that the Montreal Canadiens are ice hockey's equivalent to Liverpool FC in the English Premier League. The most successful team in their respective leagues but serious underachievers in recent years, or just downright crap.
mcgillianaire: (Curry Dialysis)
Ramadan Karim to all those who partake. Back in Oman this would mean no eating in public during the daytime. In my high school we wouldn't be allowed to eat outside during lunch breaks, but sometimes (often?) we'd finish class early. Those fasting would often leave the room and this would continue for a lunar month, at the end of which there would be a nice-long weekend known as Eid Al-Fitr. Lots of people from Oman use the opportunity to drive across the border to Dubai or go on wadi-bashing and camping excursions...

But for me, I know it's something special when I find this and this in the local newspaper. Maashallah. :)

----

Note:
Ramadan, and just about every other Muslim holiday, occurs/starts one-day later in Oman than most other Muslim countries. This is because the majority of Omanis are neither Sunni nor Shi'a and as such like to do things differently.

Only 1% of the 1.2 billion Muslims are neither Sunni nor Shi'a. Instead, the predominant sect in Oman are the Ibadhis who make up approximately 2 million or 85% of the Omani Muslim population.

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