mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)

The Highgatehill Murugan Temple was the first Hindu temple that dad visited in England more than thirty years ago. And therefore it has a very special place in his heart. Every time he passes through the city, he pays his respects and last weekend was no different. This is how it looks today after a front extension upgrade giving the appearance of a Tamil abode of worship. Dad (along with many other devotees) paid towards its construction. The two statues in gold colour are of Muruga and Ganesha (the elephant-headed God) who are the sons of Shiva and Parvati. Muruga is often referred to as the God of Tamils and wherever in the world you are, a Murugan temple is the best evidence of a Tamil community in the area. Mounted onto the inner-side of the window, halfway between the two gold statues is the Hindu symbol Om depicted in Tamil. And just above the main entrance are two sculptures of peacocks, the traditional vehicle of Muruga. If you're ever in the area, the temple serves a simple yet delicious free lunch consisting of just three Tamil dishes every day around noon. All are welcome. And here's a cheeky photo I took of the main Muruga idol inside the temple a couple years ago.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)

I travelled through this station for only the second time since its significant rebuild a few years ago, and it's got the best view from a railway station platform. The platform spans the length of the bridge. St Paul's Cathedral can also be seen from this spot, but just missed out to the left of this panorama. However I did manage to capture: Tower 42, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie, Cannon Street station, the Canary Wharf skyscrapers, Tower Bridge, the Millennium "Wobbly" Bridge, the Shard and the former Bankside power station that now houses the Tate Modern art gallery. The station itself is a block of concrete.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
Following the first snowfall of the winter, London woke up to a gorgeous white blanket yesterday morning. Having missed last winter's snowfall (while preparing for exams in Oman), there was no chance I'd miss out on capturing this weekend's main event. It pays to wake up early, esp on a Sunday!

A panorama of Enfield Chase Green, complete with an Englishman and his dog. [Taken: Yesterday morning around 9am]

Enfield Chase Green is a five minute walk from my flat. And because it was a Sunday, most of it had remained untouched even at 9 in the morning.

Usually, trees like these in winter appear lifeless and somewhat haunting, but all it takes is a coating of snow to make them look beautiful again.
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)

Now that I'm the owner of an iPhone again, it only seemed appropriate to use the device's Autostitch app to create this panorama of Durham Cathedral. Founded in 1093, it is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and is part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The two western towers of the cathedral rise up 44m and were built in the early 13th century.

5 More Snaps )
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)

A photostitch of the exquisite interior of Muscat's new Royal Opera House.

Best buddies from high school.
Beach-side shisha cafes.
Gorgeous weather.
Home-cooked food.
New "family" members.
Indian satellite TV.
Dinner parties.
Chilled-out badminton sessions.
Bargain-priced new clothes.
Cheap nights out.
Swan Lake by the Mariinsky Ballet in Muscat's new Royal Opera House.

Remind me, what is it about London that trumps all of that?!
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)

That of course is Bill Nighy, eating dinner with his wife(?) at Charuwan, a Thai restaurant near Archway in North London. I was at a friend's birthday dinner and although we didn't bother him while he was eating, one of us did manage to secure a photo of him with our birthday buddy just before he left. I've read somewhere that he lives in the area and this photo sort-of confirms it. He's one of my favourite actors and he seemed a fairly decent chap in the four words that I heard him speak!
mcgillianaire: (Default)

Dad sent this picture from his recent trip to Kuala Lumpur. Lord Muruga is the most important Hindu God for Tamils, who make up a sizeable minority of the Malaysian population (roughly 1.4 million or 5% of the total). This statue of Lord Muruga was unveiled in January 2006 and took three years to construct. At 43m (140ft) high it is the world's tallest statue of Lord Muruga and is located outside Batu Caves, thirteen kilometres north of Kuala Lampur (the capital of Malaysia). According to Wiki, the statue "is made of 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint brought in from neighbouring Thailand." The Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m-high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps. The cave is the focal point of the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia that is celebrated mainly by Tamils. The festival falls on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February).
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
I've got a new computer and it replaces the HP Pavilion notebook that I got and posted about just before moving to London in April 2007. I hope none of you followed my lead and bought an HP laptop because it flattered to deceive within months of using it. Too loud, too slow, faulty DVD wiring (even after replacing it) and a terrible battery. This time my first choice was an iMac but it was beyond budget (approx £1300). Having used my sister's old Lenovo laptop during my recent stint in Oman, I was impressed with its performance as the PC was just months younger than my HP. And Lenovo had the cheapest online deals for the specifications that I wanted: an All-in-one desktop, 20" touch screen monitor, Intel Core i3 processor (but ideally i5), a better graphics card than the integrated Intel one, 4GB RAM, 500+GB HDD, Blu-Ray DVD-writer, min. 5 USB slots, FireWire & HDMI ports, integrated TV tuner, wireless keyboard/mouse and a 3-year warranty. But most importantly it had to cost less than £800 altogether. And I almost got everything I wanted except for the Blu-Ray. But that's fine.

  • Intel Core i3-350M processor (2.26GHz, 3MB Cache)
  • 23" (1920 x 1080) Full HD, 16:9 widescreen, with Lenovo NaturalTouch Panel & Surface Acoustic Wave multi-touch technology
  • ATI Radeon HD 5650 1GB graphics card
  • 4 GB DDR3 DRAM 1066 MHz memory
  • 640 GB HDD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Slot-in Optical Disk drive, DVD writer
  • 2.0 JBL speakers (2*5W) with Dolby Home Theate
  • Integrated hybrid analogue/digital TV tuner (AV in, TV in)
  • 802.11abgn Draft-N WiFi, 10/1000M Gigabit Ethernet LAN modem
  • 0.3M integrated Lenovo High-Sense Webcam & integrated microphone
  • 6 x USB2.0, eSATA, 6-in-1 card reader, FireWire, 1 headphone/line-out jack (with SPDIF digital audio support), microphone jack, HDMI in & out
  • Adjustable stand, Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse (operation from up to 65 ft away)
  • Pre-installed software: Lenovo Rescue System 3.0, Power2Go 6.0, McAfee®, YouCam, Lenovo Dynamic Brightness System, Lenovo Eye Distance System, LVT 4.0, Common Components Installation, WinDVD® 8.0 (BD), Healthcare 2.0, PowerCinema, VeriGesture, AutoCollage, IdeaTouch and motion-drive games pack (with optional 4-in-1 Remote)
  • 670 x 207 x 525 (mm) (W x H x D) including base
  • 14.8 kg (32.6 lbs)
It's not the best looking computer especially compared with the benchmark set by the iMac but it'll do. Lenovo are not known for their aesthetics but their A310 All-in-One model gives the iMac a run for its money. Pity it lacked several of the key features which I wanted. My new computer is also pretty heavy but it can be wall mounted and a metal bracket is included. Good for movie watching. Its retail price is £1000 and is now available for £850 on Amazon but I bought it for £650 and it was delivered the very next day! I checked Amazon the day after it arrived and it was available for an even better deal of £600. So bear that in mind if you plan on buying a computer from Amazon. There are good deals but they come and go before you can say Brazil. And if you buy it on Amazon UK you'll automatically be offered the choice of purchasing a three-year warranty plus accident protection from SquareTrade for just an additional £50 (although I had to pay £70 for it). So all-in-all, a good machine for just £730. Half the price of an iMac+warranty and with some better features even. Bhooyakasha!

As for the computer itself, it seems great so far. The only things to bear in mind are that the wireless keyboard and mouse don't pick up movement immediately when you start moving them but if you remain patient for a second or two, all is well. I did read some negative stories from users of similar Lenovo models in which they had to continually pair their keyboard and mouse devices but that hasn't happened to me (yet). The cool thing for you gamers is that the mouse is a 3-in-1 which means it works as a wireless controller like you would with the Nintendo Wii. The link specified a 640GB HDD but it turned out to be 570GB with 550GB free. No biggie really.

I'm yet to test the extent of the screen's multi touch features or the VeriFace technology which allows you to create a password with your face, check who has tried to log into the computer and encrypt/decrypt sensitive files using your face as the password. The first thing that caught my attention was the size of the screen. It was quite an upgrade from my 15.4" laptop and the graphics are much more clear and bright. Score! Everything seems to be running smoothly and quickly; booting up takes under two minutes. There doesn't seem to be any substantial difference between Windows 7 and Vista but you now have the option to combine task bar windows even when it's not full. I like that task bar windows are minimised to their thumbnail icon (finally!) and the fact that you can create slide shows of background images (though perhaps this was already available in Vista?)

The speakers are fairly good for an inbuilt system but I'd still recommend connecting a dedicated set for better quality. I'm yet to test the inbuilt webcam and microphone but all in good time. The TV tuner was easy to use and installed all the Freeview channels. I'm hoping to connect a Virgin Media package with SkySports to it eventually. The computer comes pre-installed with software to record scheduled programmes which is nifty. The biggest downside is the lack of other useful pre-installed software, most notably Microsoft Office. If only I'd bought this computer in Oman or India. Nae bother, this is my chance to join the OpenSource bandwagon and make merry with OpenOffice. I'm even thinking of installing Ubuntu but I'm worried it'll slow the machine down too much. That was one of the main reasons I fell out with my HP laptop. Your suggestions are most welcome.

For more pics including side and back angles, click here.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)

View of Canary Wharf (incl One Canada Square - Britain's tallest completed building) from a street with one of the best views in North London. All of these houses were built in 1900. I apologise for the poor quality but that's what you get with an iPhone 3GS in overcast conditions. [Taken 13 March 2011]

The same view taken a couple hours earlier. Again the quality's not great but I just love the juxtaposition between Mussy Hill's chimney tops and the Canary Wharf skyscrapers.

Same street. I'm only posting this because the big white structure to the left in the background is the new Olympic Stadium/Park, hence the adjoining cranes.
mcgillianaire: (Default)

To the left you can see The Shard - the EU's upcoming tallest skyscraper. At 310m it will not even rank amongst the world's top 40.
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)

My first appearance at Ruse Bar in Borough (near London Bridge) - a Liverpool supporters boozer thanks to the landlord who's a fan.
mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)

You can see villagers bathing on the left side. The 125-mile canal irrigates 200,000 hectares of fertile land along the banks of the Kaveri.


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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