Thursday, March 30, 2006

Of Travel And Commitment

David, the ozzie, sent me an email recently. He's in Chile, the bastard! :-) How can some people be responsible, work their arses off, support the capitalism in their progressive countries (as opposed to the 'Axis of evil' gang) while others care-freely travel the world and laugh in your face (by email!). Well, the world is unjust, we need another Marx to dream about another utopia, one that would free man from work, the ultimate slavery.

Ah well, if it's not clear by now, I envy him, travelling like that in South America ... he plans to go to Brazil too and then come to London in June. Where I hope he's thinking of staying for a while, find a job ... girlfriend proved to be more difficult last time. :-)
He also promised to start blogging about his adventure. Hopefully he will, he has a great sense of humour and he goes on for ages, so that would manage to fill my idle time at work.

About the ceremony to become british. I was one of the few white people there. I'm not judgemental about that, it's just the fact. Most of people were from Pakistan, Bangladesh or African nations. I was the only romanian. Other nations representatives: one person from US, one from South Africa, one from Brazil, 2 from Colombia. We had to register, we got a sticky name tag which we had to stick onto our cloths ... so that we wouldn't forget our names when we had to shout them out loud.

There were 3 people at the control centre, the table before us delivering the blah blah. One was a council representative, dressed ceremoniously, in a purple robe with something dangling from her neck. Didn't pay much attention to that. She said something about life in the UK, in the council, the regular stuff, democracy, respecting each other, things we all know. There was another master of ceremonies, carrying a huge metal stick ... huh? Careful with that mate, you don't want to hurt anyone now do you?

His only intervention was when they entered the room saying Behold the representative of blah blah... some unforgettable words no doubt.
After that, each one of us had to say "I " out loud and individually, not in a chorus. As you can imagine, most names were unspellable, but hey, that's diversity. D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y. And then we had to chant in chorus, the actual allegiance to the Queen and pledge of faith to the UK.

Once that was done, the national anthem was supposed to be played. There was a small technical problem, they couldn't get the right anthem, twice another song came out. And this is when the master of ceremony had the second intervention saying "Oh, they changed it and didn't tell us anything about that". Funny. That's what I like about this country. People take the piss. I imagine if that happened in the States, it would be high treason. Everybody would put their hands on their chests, deeply absorbed in a trance-like state of national pride, no smiles please ... this is serious matter.

That was it, your status changes in about an hour. You're no longer "Others", you can go to the "Us" queues at airports. What else? Ah, yes, you can register on the Electoral Role so that everyone on the Internet can find your address with a click of the mouse. Cool, ha?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This is the 100th post in my blog ... hurray ... and also today is the day I've become british citizen.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I got the letter about the ceremony - swearing alleagiance to the Queen. It's on 28th of March, in 5 days. That would be the day I become british. Now there are two options available.
1. Swearing alleagiance - which means "swearing by almighty God"
2. Affirming alleagiance - which removes every references to God, available for atheists
I chose to affirm the allegiance, I want to leave God out of it - just to avoid sparking wide protests in the Middle East.

Yesterday I've seen the Pink Panther, a silly comedy. If you're too serious when you see it, then you're going to think it's crap. You have to get into the silliness of it, embrace the silliness, breathe silliness, fart silliness ... you got the point! I managed to laugh really hard at some jokes, while others were not that funny. Hey, since I have an unlimited card, it was for free, so I can't be a harsh judge here, right?

Today I bought - the idea is to transform it in a business later on. On the moment still working on the idea. It's going to be about travel ... and ... Well, I can't tell you more without killing you afterwards.

Since it's been so dull lately, let's finish with a joke about men. They're such pigs, aren't they... pfft!!

So a guy has to choose between 3 girls whom he wants to marry. So the test is to give each girl the same sum of money and see how they spend it and then decide.
The first girl takes the money, goes out to beauty salons, hair-stylists and comes back
- I wanted to make myself more beatiful for you to enjoy me more, because I love you so much.
The second girl goes out, buys a plasma screen, the latest playstation, a bunch of games, beer and wine.
- I wanted to buy the things that you like, so you can enjoy yourself more. All because I love you so much.
The third girl takes the money, she invests it on the stock market, makes a good profit, returns the money + the profit.
- I wanted to show you I am responsible financially and I make you not just happy, but richer too, because I love you so much.
The man thinks for a while and then he goes and marry the one with the biggest boobs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My first experience with a dentist in this country. He was very nice, very polite and friendly, he talked to me about my dental situation, explaining what my options are and even telling me that I should change my diet and eat less sugar. Which I'm going to do!
It's a surprise, because doctors in Romania don't work like that. They don't tell you about technical problems, they usually make the decisions for you, they don't tell you about consequences. They're usually too busy making money and they seem more interested in making you come again for their service, instead of trying to prevent some problems by simply informing you of choices or prevention options.
It also seems a standard practice to apply local anasthetic, so you don't feel anything ... not even your lip, for 3-4 hours afterwards.
So I'm pretty pleased with the doctor. The total cost was 74 pounds, quite expensive compared to romania. The breakdown was: examination (25 pounds), x-ray (10 pounds), silver filling (39 pounds). I'll probably be able to claim back on my insurance policy about 65 pounds.
However he delivered some bad news about the state of my teeth, so I need to go back on monday and maybe even more. But I'll cut down sugar from my diet.

The list of film I've seen since last time ... Sylvia, The Aviator, The proposition, Frida. Tonight we're going to see a comedy for a change ... The Pink Panther. So it's looking good.

I must also admit that I've started solving sudoku puzzles, it's addictive, an easy way to kill time I guess.

And last, but not least, I've finally managed to book the sports hall for football this coming saturday, 11am. Yupie, finally some football after a long time of inactivity.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The revenge of the dried apricot

Tragedy struck today! One of my tooth fillings fell off. Arghhhh! I hate when these things happen because
1. Going to the dentist is not fun
2. Going to the dentist is not cheap
3. Finding a good dentist is not easy
4. Claiming back on my dental insurance is not straight-forward
5. It would be the first time I go to a dentist in this country, before I used to fix my teeth whenever I was in Romania, but this time I can't wait until June
6. I have to!

It happened while eating dried apricots in the morning. Now, apricots of all things! I would understand if it was meat ... there would be a suble moral lesson in that: Don't eat your fellow Earth inhabitants. But what's the lesson in eating apricots? What? Not eating apricots? Nah, it would be too blunt and unpoetic. It has to be ... don't eat in the morning. Because I usually don't. I skip breakfast and I eat lunch at 12. But today I innocently thought I should have some bananas and apricots in the morning. Innocently?! INNOCENTLY?! This is divine punishment for my weakness.Well, shit happens. And if you eat a lot of apricots, shit happens a lot. No pun intended?

Enough with the crap.

I also booked everything for the late may bank holiday, a trip to Dublin, road testing my shiny new passport, which I don't have yet. I wonder if it's true that Ireland is populated my dwarves dressed all in green and drinking Guiness all day. Don't be silly! No one can drink Guiness all day. So it can't be true!Well, it's St Patick Day today, so what a better gift than a trip to Dublin ... well, for the end of May.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Last night I've seen Tsotsi, the Oscar winner for best foreign film of the year. It's very good, it has something humane in it that reaches out to audiences. In the same time it's nothing big, nothing holywoodian about it. It's a simple story about a simple guy and maybe because nothing is big, nothing is exaggerated, maybe that's why it's so touching and humane and credible. Anyway, it's worth having a look. It's a message a hope in the middle of a sad decor that would normally have a sad effect on the viewer. The film deserves the Oscar.
In the weekend the plan is to see among other things Y Tu Mama Tambien, a mexican film with that guy from Motorcycle Diaries, I can't remember his name and too lazy to look it up now.

The big destination for the end of the year is narrowing down to Caribbeans or maybe Central America. I found some tickets to Jamaica for 400 pounds and a cheap caribbean airline:, I have to read more about the area and come up with a 3 weeks itinerary. Jumping from one island to another sounds fun. That's unless a tornado happens to sweep the region at that time. Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed for tornado not happening, what else? Duh.

I'm hungry ... lunch break is here. :-)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I've been thinking about travelling again. Actually I've been thinking about booking something early for the coming Bank Holidays. The Easter bank holiday is already booked, I'm going to Brussels + 1 day in Brugges. For the late May bank holiday I'm thinking of Dublin, 3 days in the capital of Ireland. It's gotta be good. The flights are so cheap, around 33 pounds (inclusive of tax). We'll see, but I'm very very tempted.

I'll also be left with 15 holidays for this year. I was thinking of 3 weeks, from 16th of december to 7th of january, that would be 12 working days, going to a warm destination. I was looking at Australia, but for that part of the year, it's ridiculously expensive. Most tickets are 1000-1200 pounds. Way too expensive if you think that you can normally find tickets around 600 pounds.Any other possible destinations? Hmm ... don't know, it's gotta be in the southern hemisphere as I need sun and warmth. :-)
Other possibilities: Singapore, South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru), Central America (Costa Rica, Bahamas, Mexico), California, Cambodia + Vietnam, New Zeeland (although I think the flight would be expensive as for Australia), Africa (Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia). The list is too long :-)

Monday, March 13, 2006

The wednesday film club which i organise went to see Syriana last week. Yeap, on wednesday, that's why it's called "wednesday film club". It's wednesday because Orange has a special offer: 2 tickets for the price of 1 for its customers. Anyway ... Syriana is a film that keeps your brain active, wondering what the heck is going on and who are all those people. At some point I felt so frustrated as I couldn't understand the relationship between all the characters in the film, yet they were introducing new characters. You also need to know about the history of the region in order to understand some parts of the film. I was expecting more though.

Next wednesday, the club is going to see Tsotsi, the Oscar winner for best foreign film this year.

In the weekend ... more films. The world's fastest indian is quite a good film. Anthony Hopkins makes it shine. He said this film was refreshing for him. No sex, no violence, no guns, no killings. Sounds boring, huh? Well, that's what I thought too, but the bubbly character keeps you entertained giving the film a delicious humour which saves it from the cold shoulder of the viewer.

I've also seen on DVD 2 older films: Adaptation with Nicholas Cage playing a double role. Quite good. Also Birth with Nicole Kidman, quite interesting too.

On Sunday we went to see "The hills have eyes". It's full of gratuitous explicit violence which makes your stomach gurgle in disgust. There was a comical aspect too, but not from the film. During the view, they suddenly turned the lights on. We were all wondering WTF, when a guy comes in to tell us that we need to evacuate the building. We did, and once in the street we realised the funny side of it and the lack of respect for the customers. No one told us anything. We decided to go home, the film was for free as we had unlimited cards, but the poor people that had to pay for the film... We still don't know what happened.

Today, nothing much happening, the plan is to go to the gym. I've started again going to the gym last week, this would be the 4th time. I really need to go to avoid becoming a vegetable. I would also like to go swimming, but I'm so lazy... I've also taken decisive action in organising football again, but the sports hall is all booked during the weekend. I might be able to book it starting at 11am, but that's usually an impossible hour for many of the joyous drinkers indulging themselves in the regular friday binge.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What's up doc? *chewing a carrot*

Some reasons to be happy. I started to go to the gym again, on Monday was the first time. It was brilliant, I felt so energetic afterwards and alive. I was mostly on the cross-trainer, just a little bit of running, not much. I have to take it easy at first. It's so weird how human mind works. I read in the same day, for the first time, about the Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (also called Cardiac arrhythmia). It's a heart problem that can hit you any time and it kills in minutes. It's a sudden killer. It mostly occurs in healthy fit people as exercise can put pressure on heart. However, it is believed to be a genetic problem in the heart, but hey, we don't know if we're genetically flawed or not, do we?
And reading about something like that just before going to the gym, it's not helping. It's curious to see how the mind thinks and how it worries and explores the darkest corners of possibility.

Finally, after 6 months of suffering, I got some sense out of I told you about not getting a refund for a ticket for Thailand that I bought in September. They kept saying they haven't got my tickets back and can't proceed with the refund. I believe this is shit as I'm entitled to a refund by the Sale of Goods Act anyway. Some possibilities I was ready to explore were ... cancelling the transaction with the credit card, complain to Trading Standards, take them to the small claims courts, complain to ABTA.
The techniques they were using:
1. Saying they haven't got the tickets and always trying to transfer me to a different department
2. A manager was never available
3. Not replying to any emails at all
Finally today I got hold of a customer service guy willing to help and, in the end, he said I would be refunded in 4 weeks. Isn't that outrageous? After 6 months of waiting. I suspect they lost somehow the tickets as I have proof from Royal Mail that they were delivered (recorded delivery, remember?).
Anyway, try to avoid and - they're absolutely shit! If you have a problem, you're on your own!

The bad thing is I slept miserably tonight and I have a terrible ache in the back of my neck, I can barely turn the head. Not to mention if I drop something, I might have to fingertip-search it on the floor. Or maybe I could use a mirror! A-HA! Problem solved!

Tonight the plan is to see Syriana and explore the implications of running out of oil. Oil and conflict go hand in hand and the world seems oblivious to the fact that it's a limited resource indeed. We'll see if Syriana tells us something new.

Monday, March 06, 2006

This weekend, on the 4th of march, it was my birthday. 29 year old I am now. Shit, depressing! I think next year I will definitely have a mid-life crisis. People say to me ... what mid-life crisis at 28-29? Well, it all depends how much you live in the end. If you live 56-58, then it's definitely a mid life crisis.

I didn't want to organise anything, but then Ali, M&M dragged me out for a coffee, where I was also very embarrassed by the candles they put on the cake Marco cooked. There were a lot of people around, none of them looking bluntly, but surely everyone noticed. Anyway, it was a nice day out, we ended up in a pub having a drink and that was it.
It wasn't anything I organised or planned. It's worth mentioning because other people might say that they weren't invited. Usually when I organise something, I invite everyone. But this time, it was nothing to be invited at. I might organise something though when I get my citizenship.

And since we're talking about that, a Home Office guy called me on saturday, for my birthday to tell me that I was successful in my citizenship application. Now I don't know if it was just coincidence or they did on purpose. The guy said ... oh, it's your birthday today, what a coincidence, happy birthday! Hehe ... so I reckon they did it on purpose. Well, it was nice of them.
The next step is to get the official letter, then swear allegiance to the Queen and that's it.

The weather was very nice on saturday and sunday, sun was out, you could have felt the spring coming hadn't it been for the merciless wind. On Sunday we went to Greenwich, visited the area, the Royal Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and then 2 films at West India Quay Cineworld cinema.

The weather man, with Nicholas Cage was the first. It's very good, I enjoyed it very much. After seeing the trailer, I thought, hmm... it's going to be boring. But it's such a nice insight into the human psyche bogged down in the trivial little big problems of life. All narrated with a humourous spin that manages to cook a comedy from what it would be otherwise tragedy ingredients. Recommended!

Good night and good night is Clooney's film about the communist witch-hunt of the 50s, conducted by an american senator. The film is a bit weird, you have to pay attention because the key of the film is in the details. The whole point of the film is in the dilemma: should I speak against the inquisition or not. After that the film goes straight and very abruptly for a clearly spelled moral about the role of the TV in a modern society. It lacks twists and it's more of a documentary as the characters are not very well contoured. Anyway ... I'm not a critic, I must be missing something, I'm sure.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Well, the A2 poster finally arrived, it's good but too bright. I need to correct it in Photoshop and print it again :-) But not just yet.

Bowling yesterday was very good, we had fun. To my disappointment and dismay, I only managed to win one game, Alireza snatching 2 games. Edyta? Well, she was there too :-)

I'm thinking of going to Brussels (maybe take a day trip to Brugges from there by train) in the April bank holiday 14-17. I'm looking into that. Roberto is interested too.

I've booked my ticket to Romania from June 24 to July 9, for my cousin's wedding.

Found this great website that gives you a comparison of flight prices on different websites (eg. ryanair, easyjet and many more): It's a fantastic tool for weekend escapes mainly and the best feature that I always wanted is that it allows you to search for any destination, ordered by price. That's because most of the times I don't really care where I'm going (as long as it's not somewhere I've already been) but I only care about cheapest flights and many times picking the cheapest destination. Great website!