Bookshops, not!

This is how the story goes. Someone we know was in London for a couple of days for a conference of sorts. We met over dinner one day and caught up with all the gossips and news and such. Later when they were back to their own place of residence, they gave us a call to check with us if we would be able to return something that they bought from a bookshop in Soho. Mr M and I enjoying being in bookshops. We always go and check out what’s new in Waterstones/Foyles or even those small bookshops that look like Ollivanders from Harry Potter. We agreed and they sent us the item. First and foremost, we knew just by looking at the courier cover that it wasn’t a book. If it wasn’t, then we wondered how on earth did they get that in a bookshop. To clarify some more, it was an adult ‘toy’. Now that left us baffled. The receipt that was attached points to a bookshop, sure. Since neither of us has been to that area before we took the help of Google Maps (where would I be outside India without the aid of these maps) and went around one Saturday afternoon.

The board outside the shop did say ‘Soho Original Bookshop’. Alright, that’s perfect. Looked quite old enough too. We didn’t see any signs of it being a licensed adult store or anything or maybe we failed to notice it if there was any. Now imagine, if this was indeed a bookstore how embarrassing would it be to check with them if the receipt of an adult toy sale belonged to them. We were quite sceptical. Did we have a choice? No. So we both went in and it all became clear. I am sure that there were some books somewhere there, but it was primarily an adult store. Nothing wrong with that. There are more than one in that area and they have signs and all. What I couldn’t comprehend was why to call them ‘…Original Bookshop’, when it wasn’t just that. I am still going with the assumption that they had some in the basement or upstairs (I saw the stairs…just not sure if it led down or up or both)

I kept pestering Mr M about the name of the shop. I couldn’t get it out of my head. How am I supposed to know which bookshop is just a ‘book’ shop and which one isn’t? Why go with a store name that doesn’t serve the purpose of the items being sold. Don’t the adult licensed shops also sell books related to it? I get so confused by these things. The pattern goes awry in such cases unless you know the place and the history and such. If I was a tourist and ended up there thinking that it is a bookshop, I would have been embarrassed and flustered more than anything else at least until the curiosity gets the better of me ūüėČ

A few weeks later, we were walking through the Euston station road from Drummond Street. Just opposite the bus stop, there was a ‘Gentleman’s Club’.¬† Now, this I know a little bit from the stories I have read. The store next to this is called ‘Euston Bookshop’. Now again, this doesn’t look like any bookshop. Why? because it is covered with a curtain and the only window that is present is tinted. I almost asked Mr M to go over there while we were waiting for the bus, but one closer look and my jaw dropped again. Mr M also thought that it might not be an actual bookshop. Again, why this cloak and dagger thing? Why not just name something for what it is. It is not as if it makes any difference to people here. A couple of folks who walked past were peering through the tinted window and were having fun. I would have done the same thing. It is our natural curiosity. The only reason we thought for people to use the term bookshop in their store titles might be related to some regulations in some areas, even though that is stretching it a bit too far. At least that might make a little bit sense. People always baffle me. At least I got a good story out of this, one I will remember to tell for a long time ūüėČ


Warning: Gonna be a long post because of the incident during the flight

Every once in a while during my flight journey I end up having someone sitting next to me who would be so weird that I end¬†up having some story to tell someone about it. The flight was already delayed by an hour because of a technical issue with the door. Thankfully it was properly fixed and not ‘patched’ by any intermediate fixes like we do in our software ūüėČ While waiting at the gate, I keep looking around for people and what they are doing, how they are reacting, who wants to¬†be the first in the queue for boarding etc etc. There are always people¬†who would go with their Economy tickets when the call was Business Class/ First Class and get turned back. There is not a single time I haven’t met at least ‘one’ of them. I wonder why they would do that! OK, let me get back to this weird guy. So this French guy was sitting 4 seats to my left and was trying to chat with an Indian (of course). Why was their conversation weird and why did I actually pay attention to it? Because the French guy spoke french and the Indian guy spoke English and neither of them were able to understand the other.¬†¬†The French guy was trying to strike a conversation and the Indian guy didn’t know how to respond, so he was mostly smiling and shaking his head. Well, now you know why that caught my attention.

I think you know where this is heading, right? Well, as fate would have it, once I placed my bags in the cabin, I went to¬†freshen up and when I was back I saw this French guy in my seat. Whoa!!! OK!!! I tell him that the aisle seat was mine (I endured the middle seat on the way to London, and made sure that I did not repeat my mistake) and he was looking at me like I was crazy. Then I had to show him my ticket and then he was like ‘oui oui’ and moved to the next one taking my headset with him. Some more of the hand gestures to get it back from him. And after that I opened my Kindle, as usual, and started with my book, wondering what is in store for me. The Indian guy on the other side tried to strike a conversation with the French guy and well, you know what happened. It was a repeat of the earlier performance. What I didn’t expect was that this French guy turned to me and started to speak in French and¬†wasn’t even slow. Now, it was my turn to look at him like ‘he’ was crazy and told him ‘I don’t speak French’. For that he said ‘I speak French’ (the only English line he knew, I guess) I almost rolled my eyes and told him ‘OK! but I dont’ and added some hand gestures. He didn’t seem to be bothered and kept talking to me. How am I even supposed to respond to that? I smiled and asked him ‘You speak English?’ and he was like ‘English?’ and shook his head no. I said OK and went back to my book and didn’t respond to his lines after that. Why bother. The¬†Indian guy on the other side tried to help him but again to no avail and finally found a¬†representative of the BA who spoke French. After that, all was well and calm.

But not for too long. After the 5th hour or so, once I had my book finished I decided to take a nap and was doing well with it for almost an hour when I heard someone very close to my left ear talking (the French guy was to my right) I woke up only to find the senior official of the BA air hosting team asking the French guy if he was smoking in the toilet. The senior guy was flanked by the French speaking guy and another assistant. Little did the guy know that the French guy spoke only French. He told him that he could smell cigarettes on him and that another passenger recognized him coming out of the toilet followed by some smoke and that he would be warned this time but if he continued he would be arrested in India. He was so angry and he spoke without a pause even though he had a good control of his tone. The French guy, well, he listened to all of it, obviously not understanding a word of it. Then the French speaking assistant came to help and translated it word by word (I am just assuming it) and this guy was vehemently denying it even though he had cigarettes in his pocket. I was caught up in between and was watching them like a tennis match.

After that excitement and all, I couldn’t go back to sleep. But that guy didn’t have any such issues. After mumbling himself to sleep and drinking some of whatever he had in his cabin baggage, went back to sleep. I started on another book and before I could put it down after an hour, he got very comfortable and I almost thought he was going to keep his leg up on me, the way he moved around and laid on the guy on the other side. Now I was fully awake to make sure that he didn’t turn to my side. And in a few minutes, he removed his shirt too. Good Lord! I almost called the assistants but then he put it back on after a few minutes. Thank Goodness. And before we got down, he was talking to the other Indian guy in French telling him something about how he was scolded about smoking and was mimicking the old senior assistant who scolded him in English.

How is he even going to survive in India, without any English knowledge? Not many people know French here, let alone English (languages, I mean). When the other Indian guy was asking him if he had any friends here, he was wondering ‘friends? why?’ It looked like he¬†got the first ticket he could get and just got on. Will he be able to survive here? He might be able to. But it is going to be some painful start and I hope that he is not ripped of whatever money he has.¬†Since I can’t smell well, I couldn’t say anything about the smoking but if everyone else could smell the smoke on him, then he definitely did put everyone else on danger by doing a prohibited thing, in a flight nonetheless, which doesn’t earn him any points. And two guys on the left seat were having a huge discussion about this guy for almost half an hour after the smoking incident. Seriously, why do I end up¬†being part of these kind of events.