Wednesday, August 31, 2005

One Stop Short of Barking by Mecca Ibrahim

Just a small simple line to describe this book:

If you haven't got it, you might as well get your hand of it before it's sold out! A very interesting, in-depth and hilarious story of "going underground". Venue: London.

I want this book now!

or, visit the co-author's web for more.

Tube Relief Challenge - 24 hour before the D Day.

Woke up startled at 6.45am on Wednesday morning. Had a bad dream and only managed to doze off three hours beforehand. I stumbled across my flat looking for the lightswitch, only to find out that I was looking at the wrong wall (I must be thinking that I was still in my old flat), and so needed to stumble across the other section of the wall. Switched the light on and standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, thinking what I should do next while my slow brain started to register that I needed to quickly get ready and packed my stuff as my coach will be living to London at 7.45am!

7.30am: Start walking (no, it's in fact running like a greyhound) to Old Steine to catch my coach and arrive there a minute before 7.45am (good record! since am a slow walker) just when the driver about to close and get ready to leave! Huffing and puffing, I get into the coach ready for the day.

10.20am: reach London Victoria. The clouds were hanging low, praying under my breath that I will be able to get to French consulate before the rain started to pour!

10.30am: Joining the other queuer by standing right in front of the gate of visa section at the French consulate. Now, some of you might be thinking what on earth was I doing standing in front of French consulate embassy like there is nothing better else to do, oh well.. of course, it's because I need to apply for a visa to go to France! simple, eh! nothing complicated ;) Anyway, just to remind the reader which might need to apply for visa in the future, you better plan your holiday well in advance since their meeting appointment always fully booked two months in advance! some nationality, like me, wasn't able to even get the visa the same day you applied (basically, you need to book an appointment to apply, then you go home and wait for them to send you the notification that you has been granted a visa-which usually take another one month- and only back to French consulate after that to have the passport stamped) so, maybe it's worth to plan half a year in advance! ;p

I was lucky that I managed to find a last minute cancelled appointment and managed to get there just the same time as am going to do the Tube Challenge the next day. Little that I knew, the next few days will be my longest days ever..

10.35am Heavy wind started to come and go, accompanied by the drops of rain that became more and more heavier every minutes (apparently I forgot to pray under my breath for the rain not to pour while am waiting outside, instead of just hoping it won't rain before I get to the French consulate. At this point, I started to curse under my breath.). By 10.50am, I was soaking wet and no matter how big my umbrella was, the wind with the rain just kept breaking through me.. half an hour to go until my appointment and long queue has started picking up in front of the French Consulate and we were left standing soaking wet for another half an hour! The Guard came out for a brief second handing out two big umbrellas, a nice gesture eventhough there are about 20people queueing there, means: two umbrellas weren't going to do any much help..

11.36am 5 minutes later than supposed to be, the gate had finally opened and in all the queuer. I had only managed to go out from the French consulate at 17.00. You might all be wondering, again, what the hell am I doing inside there.. hatching?! well, I wasn't really sure either, but I had spent the whole entire hours inside there waiting for my turned to be called. The first time I get in, there were about an additional 35 more people still waiting for their number to be called for interview. Each number lasted about 15-20minutes and only two to three counters were opened at any one time. Eventhough I was better equipped with my "Yes Man" book (Jon has post the review of it) to past the time (after learning from my past mistake to wait a whole full day in the French consulate), I still merrily nominate 24th August 2005 as one of my longest day ever in my whole entire life. Something that doesn't come up often.

17.15pm Bracing myself against the rain back to South Kensington station and getting ready to head to Ealing by now. Also just realised that am just arriving at South Kensington station at exactly "the most wonderful time" (= rush hour!) of the day. Soaked from head to toe, am ready to be squashed like an orange juice inside the tube. Lucky Jon was meeting me in South Kensington, so, at least I've got a friend, for I won't be squashed alone.

by 20.30pm, we finished dinner and now back in Jon's place reviewing our routes for tomorrow with me wasn't being able to stop sneezing and decided to call off our meeting in the pub with other challenger in the Amersham and instead tried to sleep off the cold!

23.00pm, I was still trying to sleep but the adrenaline has started to creep up by now..excited for the Tube Relief?! you bet..

2.30am, before even realising that I had dozed off, the bloody alarm has gone off and time to get prepared and ready. While Jon busy updating his blog, I was trying to steal few minutes to continue sleeping, to no success.

3.45am, I had discovered a new technique of sleeping called "sleeping on the go" by leaning my body halfway against the wall and sleep. It actually quite convenient and just about to doze off before being rudely awaken by Jon that has finished tying up his shoe lace!

4.00am getting into the taxi. Amersham, here we come!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


For those of you who are wondering why I haven't posted anything yet from the Tube Relief event, please bear with me for a few more days. I promise I'll do so once I get back to Brighton (soon). To blog at the moment, I need to rely entirely on Jon's internet and computer access (poor me..). The thing is, from 5 hours he spent on the net, only 10minutes I managed to get through him to at least check my email (first five minute when he went taking bath and the other five minute when I managed to divert him by saying that the landlord's cat was at the window pleading to get into the house).
Anyway, in case you are seriously going to wait for my Tube Relief post (which I doubt you will ;)) I merrily would like to tell you that I will only post a highlight of the Tube Relief event. For the most up to date and thorough coverage of the Tube Relief, please refer to our official Tube Relief Challenge blogger, Annie Mole!

So, good day, everyone! Hope you had a lovely bank holiday!

PS: Tammi, hope you are OK and hope Hurricane Katrina wasn't affecting New Orleans much! Worst come, my flat are always open for all of you (and, of course, also four of your chihuahuas!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

WWF - online campaigning

WWF has launched an online campaigning project to help them in influencing the UK decision-makers. To be an online campaigner for them means that you are to prepared to take a few minutes to send a letter or e-mail to a decision-maker whenever there is an opportunity to influence environmental policy or legislation for the better or to lobby against environmentally damaging practices.

Further queries to be addressed to:

Ben and Jerry Sundae Common Message

Since Jon has covered almost all of the Ben and Jerry's Sundae concert, I had decided to then concentrate more towards the message that was left behind this best and incredible "Five Quid Concert" I have ever attended so far.

One important thing that has left me feel enlightened when leaving the venue on the previous Sunday was the thought of them trying to raise the concern of the vast increment of carbon emission in the Earth by handing out a Ben and Jerry's ice cream tub but with a compost and seed packed inside it to every audience that leaving the venue. The tub can then be used as the first step of planting the 'tree' - the pot. Along with the time goes by, the plant can then be transferred to either a bigger pot or straight to the "outside world".

For further details, you can visit their website. Apologies for the bad quality pictures, wish I had a better camera.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

'One man fight'

What a strict bureaucracy we have in Brighton University. This post is about my 'fight' in just having an upright piano transferred from Falmer Campus to Moulsecoomb campus (3 miles journey that can be completed in less than 15 minutes but last a total 24hours in paperworks and emails pleading for transfer cost and a little more for maintenance).

It's all started yesterday when I received an email in my office mailbox from Estate and Facilities Management that three upright pianos are free for university use. Having always been very keen to have one to practice myself, I thought it's an excellent opportunity to raise this matter and voice my keenest to have one transferred to Moulsecoomb campus. To my surprise I had discovered a long and winding road to a strict bureaucracy they have in my university. Having agreed to confirm myself that the mentioned piano will be use for university use, I found myself standing alone in a middle of empty field where no one in any University of Brighton's department able to help me with the cost to transfer the piano (£50.00 +17.5% VAT) and a small cost to maintain it. Having spoken to my Head of School of the Environment, he (as much as he wanted to help) unfortunately could not justify how School of the Environment will be able to pay for it as the piano will not be used as 'academic' purposes. Having thought of contacting the Sports and Recreation Department, I had also came up with a dead end as they (again, unfortunately) raised the problem that they have no say in regards of this matter and therefore it's not under their budget to support my pure innocent idea. I appreciate their help so much as to safe me from running around to each department and house pleading them to pay a small amount to transport it to Moulsecoomb campus, the sports and recreation department sent my plea to choir and chaplaincy department, oh well, to no avail..

Guess that I will still be left to where I had started. Still no piano in Moulsecoomb campus, six years since the first time I asked them when I was even more naive about it (I was just a fresher undergraduate at that time). Guess that, again, I will still need to go all the way to Falmer and pay £2.60 bus pass just to practice my piano (I can't see how green this supposed to be). Apparently, £50.00 will give me only about 20times practice to Falmer while £50.00 to transfer the piano to Moulsecoomb will give unlimited time for me AND other students to practice. How's that?

Oh well..who say the World is a fair playground?