Speaker’s Corner – London Style

Originally posted on Facebook during my trip to England with my mother, May 13, 2009

<img data-attachment-id="1165" data-permalink="http://shanta.ca/speakers-corner-london-style/dscf0163/" data-orig-file="https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?fit=3488%2C2616" data-orig-size="3488,2616" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"4.7","credit":"","camera":"FinePix F47fd","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1243647317","copyright":"","focal_length":"20.1","iso":"200","shutter_speed":"0.004","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="The Dragon in London" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://i2.wp.com/shanta go to this site.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?fit=300%2C225″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?fit=980%2C735″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1165″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?resize=300%2C225″ alt=”The Dragon in London” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?resize=300%2C225 300w, https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?resize=150%2C113 150w, https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?resize=768%2C576 768w, https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?resize=1024%2C768 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?resize=1044%2C783 1044w, https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?w=1960 1960w, https://i2.wp.com/shanta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSCF0163.jpg?w=2940 2940w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />

I felt like this should have been at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park rather than in downtown London

My mother and I decided to take a stroll through Hyde Park this past Sunday on our way back from having toured London most of the day. We’d heard something about this speakers’ corner and thought it might be fun to just watch what happens. So much for that!

As we went through, there were crowds around various people who were ranting on top of their step ladders, going on to anyone that might listen. I stopped to listen to one older woman who looked like she was about to go head to head with another man on a stool and wanted to hear what was being said. Her argument: England for the English. Another man who was obviously from another country, argued with her and was light spirited about this. I had to take a line from one of my recent favourite comedians, Papa CJ, as turned to my mother and said “Watch this.”

I pleaded for everyone’s attention when I addressed the crowd around when I claimed that if England was for the English, they should have thought of that before they invaded everyone else, like India and the West Indies and brought all of the people back to be slaves. They should have realized the consequences of their actions when they did so and then it might still be England for the English. She then said, “Well then, why do you live here?” (since most of her argument had been about foreigners coming to the country and living off the backs of the hard-working English). I replied: “I don’t! So you can’t blame me if you don’t like the way this country is. I have English influence everywhere from Canada where I was born, to my British mother and my Indian father.

She had nothing to say against it, so she attacked my heritage instead. “So, you’re Indian then? Go back to India!” After arguing that I was Canadian, she claimed that I was who my father was, even if it was my mother who carried me for nine months. “Well, that was her mistake!”

I lost it! “Mistake? You want to tell her that? She’s right here!” Then she started telling my mother how it was her problem if she gave up being British and married an Indian. No one attacks my mother like that and before you know it, we were both in the mix. I made one maybe two other points and then left the crowd as everyone there applauded my statements, which apparently were the best ones to shutting her up for a good part of the day.

It made my day. The pot is being stirred, even on this side of the pond…;)

Day Four – #MumbaiInMarch

The registration desk at WordCamp Mumbai

The registration desk at WordCamp Mumbai

**Note: I realize I’m posting this after it happened, but mainly because of spotty internet and connection between devices. I’m determined to finish my day-by-day, even if it’s late!

WordCamp Mumbai finally arrived! I was so excited, I woke up much too early. I got showered, had breakfast and headed out. I walked down the street and summoned an Uber. The guy drove right by me, and then started the trip…without me in the car! I cancelled it, and got charged Rs.100. No big deal. Summon another. Got the same guy. The GPS picked up that he had parked not far down the street, so I walked over to find him and hopped in. Put in the destination again and we started off. The driver obviously didn’t speak much English and so I should have known something was fishy when the app tells me that the ride hadn’t started yet. I pulled up Google Maps to make sure I knew where I was going and got into my social media for the half hour trip. He had to pull over at one point because Uber called him to make sure that I was the right trip. I confirmed that I was and he carried on. When we arrived, he said that the ride hadn’t even started. I’d cancelled the first one and given him a single star rating, so I’m guessing that’s why Uber contacted him. He tried to start and stop the ride, but because the distance was negligible, he would have to cancel it. I asked him for the phone and gave a reason why the ride was cancelled. He looked at me as if to ask me what to do. I’m too honest to say “The app says there’s no charge, so I’m not paying,”. But what to do? I had a solution: If pulled up the app, typed in the pickup point and the destination and pressed “Fare Estimate”. It gave me a range of Rs. 275 to Rs. 325. I showed it to him and said: “Three?” to which he agreed. I paid him the money and off I went. I’ll deal with Uber later about the first charge, but I’m not that worried about it. Why am I telling you about this? Because I almost feel finally independent in Mumbai. I can function with a mobile phone and data plan, when I either had to go everywhere with my father or hire a driver or rely on friends, family and their drivers. Wow, how times have changed. Great feeling.

I got registered without difficulty and got my swag bag. No T-shirts, which is par for the course back home, but instead, got a mug along with some stickers. Will use them on my desk!

Here are a few of my observations from the day:

·         Few (only 1) female speakers on Saturday. More on Sunday, but none were Technical from the local community.

·         2 female organizers out of 20

·         Sometimes when a woman was speaking, especially asking a question from the crowd, even the moderator started a side chat with someone else in the audience and the laughter in the room almost drowned her out

·         Moderator went to someone else’s question over me.

I realize that some of this is cultural, but I know had I been in Canada, many of these things would not have happened. Again, just my observations.

The view from my Uber ride home on the Sea Link in Mumbai

The view from my Uber ride home on the Sea Link in Mumbai

I took an uber home, and this time my ride was great and with no difficulty. When I got home, only a short time before my cousin, I went right for the computer to upload some photos, but my connection dropped out. I had dinner with the family and recounted my day. Tried again on the computer and almost fell asleep at the keyboard. I was in bed before 11 and fell asleep almost immediately.

The one big thing I learned today: I can finally be somewhat Independent in Mumbai. I can put the address into an app and they know where to go. And it’s not all that expensive for the few days I’m here. So liberating.

Photos – #MumbaiInMarch

I think I've got most of them...

Day Three – #MumbaiInMarch

Been a great trip so far! Spent a good part of the day yesterday at the office, mostly catching up and watching my cousin at work. Need more power and wifi, buy it will sort itself out soon enough.

Met with my friend Yash last night for drinks and then dinner with his sister and her husband. We started off at the Barking Deer, a microbrewery run by a guy from Vermont, where Yash is known as soon as he comes in the door by at least three guys and has his beer served to him in a mug with his name on it. I tried a red wine called “Satori”. It’s an Indian wine, but the name in Japanese translates to ” Moment of enlightenment “. So of course I have to try it. Even had a flavour of spice to it.

After, we head over to Phoenix for dinner at a seafood restaurant. I’m very picky when it comes to seafood, but I have to admit that I tried everything they had; fish, prawns, even crab. The company was delightful and we are guessing that it’s been about 20 years since I saw her last. This is a great trip. We talked for hours on everything from what’s going on in India to websites and app development to our parents. Understand, our fathers have known each other for 60 plus years. Looks like the next generation is following in their footsteps and having a blast.


Today we went shopping and got some outfits. Just need to find some matching pieces and get the rest of my shopping done. Most likely Tuesday and it will be plentiful!


I’m still having trouble with power and wifi but I’m getting my SIM this evening so I should have better connection with everyone this weekend coming. Will also post photos and more when I get solid power and wifi.

After work today, we’re going to the gym and I’ll have a swim. Tonight, I think we’re going to a movie after dinner. Tomorrow, WordCamp Mumbai!

Day Two – #MumbaiInMarch

Trying to keep the load on what wifi I have to a minimum, so I may not upload all of the photos I’m taking right away and embedding them directly from my drive. Learning as I go.

So, to make you all jealous, this is the view from the sitting room where I’m staying:

The temperature is currently sitting at 33 celcius. We don’t even go out in this temperature!

This was on my drive earlier today.:

Notice the temple on the water!

Went with my cousin Shilpa to a store to pick out some fabric that she makes into amazing out fits. While I can’t show you those outfits, wanted to show you some of what I saw while it’s still fresh in my mind:

And this is from her office:

Wanted to get a few things out there and make sure I keep up with my promise. Might post more later, but here is just part of my first real day on the ground. Dinner with friends later!

%d bloggers like this: