November 21, 2016


I visited England first time in 1984. So it was a matter of great excitement for me. I was on my way home from Liberia, West Africa, after completing my two year teaching assignment with the University of Liberia. 

One of my old friends, Balraj, lived in England. He had migrated to UK in 1965 and was living at Reading, a city about 70 km north of London. I had decided to spend a few days with him and also to see England.

Our flight landed at Heathrow airport at about 10 AM. It was the last week of March which is still cold in England. The first site to catch my attention inside the airport area after disembarking from the aircraft was the Punjabi women moving about the airport with brooms in their hands and cleaning and dusting the area. These women were wearing shalwar kameez. Though they had nicely made up faces with lipstick and rouge, but still one could judge from their dressing up and talks that they hailed from Punjab villages.

Balraj had come to Heathrow to receive me. Somehow, we missed each other. So I took a bus and reached his home at Reading. As the home was locked, so I started waiting outside. It was a nice bright sunny day. Fortunately, I did not have to wait for long as Balraj also reached back from the airport. We were very happy to see each other in England.

Balraj opened his home. His wife was at work and children at school. He asked me to keep the baggage inside and freshen up in the shortest possible time so that we could move out. He said, “Weather is really fine today. So let’s go out”. I got ready in 6-7 minutes. We sat in the car and after driving me around for 15-20 minutes, he stopped at a pub in the outskirts of city. The pub had large open area all around with beautiful old rustic style wooden benches and tables placed there. Most of the benches were occupied by English people taking beer. Everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying. Balraj said again that fortunately the weather was very good.

Now I started wondering about his repeated comments about the weather. After all what was so good in the weather on that day. I could not help asking Balraj about it. He immediately said that it was a very good sunny day. I still could not follow his point. After all what was so special if the day was sunny. We have such days in India atleast for nine months in a year. So I asked him again what was so special in weather.

Now Balraj realized that it was my first day in England. So he explained that it was very rare to have such a sunny day in that part of England. That is why he could not help saying that 3-4 times. And that was also the reason that the customers at pub were in so much jolly mood.

I was in England for 8 more days. But there was no day like that after that. It was always cloudy, dark and cold. They mostly have this kind of weather in area about 100 km around London. One cannot see sun for days together. In London city, it is fogy too, nearly same as we have at Shoghi and Shimla during the rainy season. In London, one always needs to use flash for taking pictures even during the day time.

Later many other friends including some British told me how much they crave for sunny days which were really rare in that part of England for nine months during the year. Some even told that we in India were lucky to have a sunny weather.

Balraj also told me that sometimes when there was a sunny day after a long gap, the English people felt so happy that they would apply for a day’s leave and enjoy that “very good weather”. 

 Myself and Balraj enjoying the "very good" weather of England at city centre of Reading

 English families enjoying the "very good" weather at a pub at Reading

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