Thursday, May 22, 2003

some observations on the way things are over here (as compared to over there and as required by my professor if i'm to use this thing to fulfill my journal requirement):

  • the way parliament meetings work in britain is so bizarre. tony blair's labour party is on one side of the room while the opposing parties (tories, lib. dems) are on the opposite side. a big debate ensues with members questioning the PM through a speaker who sits in the center in a black robe and one of those silly little wigs. no one is allowed to address each other directly, though they look at one another head on. there's all this hissing and shouting and egging on going on, which is so out of character for the generally reserved brits. blair gets up and answers questions posed by members of all the parties, some of them framed so sarcastically. big laughs come out of the house and it's clear to see that everyone is trying to outsmart each other through their deadly wit and clever turns of phrase. i gotta admit that blair is damn quick on his feet. i'd like to see bush defend himself in the same manner.

  • and then when the members vote on an issue, they just exit parliament chambers and form two lines : yay or nay. the heads get counted for the vote, so it's almost impossible to record who voted which way, which sucks if you're trying to find out someone's voting record.

  • another weird thing about the supposedly reserved brits: if there's too long a line to try clothes on in a store, they just change in the store. i haven't seen anything too racy, just people putting on the merchandise on top of the clothes they're already wearing, but it struck me as odd.

  • cars have the right of way. i've always known this to be a fixture of europe in general, but it sucks. tourists have been struck so many times that they have signs at most intersections now: "look left" and "look right" -- no doubt for the americans who are unaccustomed to cars driving on the left side of the road. i've been getting into the practice of fully stopping at each intersection and looking both ways before crossing.

  • the food still friggin sucks, though i've heard it's gotten much better in the past few years, which makes one wonder how horribly terrible it was before. i was here about eight years ago and yeah, it sucked then too. (disclaimer: i've yet to sample the indian food here, so i may be changing my tune after the big indian dinner i'm scheduled to have tonight with my roommies.)

  • speaking of food, there doesn't seem to be any place to sit down and eat up along fleet street -- everything is kinda grab and go. the new thing here is a chain called "pret a manger," which means "ready to eat" in french. it's all prepackaged lunchtime food that people just take back to the office. there aren't even any tables there that one can sit at. spanish and italian people would have a heart attack if they saw that: to actually not sit down and enjoy a slow, lazy lunch in much of europe is unheard of. as far as i understand, this is yet another way that britain is turning into a clone of the US, the inventor of the power lunch. london is now reported to be the most stressed out place in western europe. everything about it resembles new york more than it does paris.

ok, time to go. is anyone reading this? please email me if you are:

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