Sunday, July 30, 2006

Orienting Myself (My Trip to London Part 2)

Written 14 July, 2006:

After my brief casting call was over, yesterday, I was left with a few hours to kill. I had planned to visit Tom, the Injured Cyclist while in town, but he had informed me he had a phyiscal therapy session to attend in the afternoon and wouldn't be home any earlier than 5PM. This was fine with me, as I wanted to do some specialist grocery shopping, while in London. I could do that and then make my way to Tom's to arrive after 5PM.
When I was married, my evil ex-mother-in-law found out about an all-you-can-eat buffet of chinese food in Northwest London. Being from Hong Kong, she maintains a connection to a network of fellow Cantonese speakers, who share information about good places to get inexpensive chinese food, amongst other things. After her and her husband tried the place out, they took me and my evil ex-wife there, for dinner one night. The restaurant is Zen Tian Di and is located on the top floor of the Oriental City Shopping Centre, 399 Edgeware Road, London NW9 0JJ. We liked it so much that Zen soon became one of my evil ex-wife's favorite place to go eat.
We soon discovered that Oriental City itself was a wonderous mecca of Oriental shopping. It includes a supermarket which bills itself as the largest Asian supermarket in Europe. Before she locked me out in the cold, my evil ex-wife (also known as "the Black Queen"), taught me how to make chinese style stirfrys. Toward the end of my marriage, I routinely was making these tasty dinners for myself, when I would get home from work. When I set up household on my own, during our separation, these tasty meals formed a convenient staple of my cooking repitoire. However, to make them I require some ingredients that I find I can't get in my local Sainsbury's and Tesco supermarkets. The supermarket in Oriental City has the ingredients and in large, economical sizes, making it a great place to shop. The only drawback, for me, is that it's a bit far from where I live, so I try to go here when I am in London for some other purpose. So, I set off, yesterday to replenish my supply of some chinese cooking ingredients. I also decided I could have lunch at Zen Tian Di, while I was there. Over the years I attended Zen Tian Di with the Black Queen, we learned that lunch is cheaper than dinner. Always one to go for a bargain, the Black Queen opted for us to go there for lunches predominately, rather than dinners.
Now, I had never before gone to Oriental City via public transport. During my marriage and since, I had always driven. But as I had a Travelcard and plenty of time to kill, I reasoned that there must be some way to get there via public transport. Fortunately for me, the same Northern Line that I used to get to my casting call, also goes to the nearest Tube Station to Oriental City. Well, at least the other branch does. I merely had to go one stop back to Camden Town, then switch to the other branch of the Northern Line. I was armed with a business card from Zen Tian Di, from a previous visit, and it had a map on the back. The nearest Tube station is Colindale Station. From there I had to walk a bit.
Now Lunch at Zen Tian Di ends at 3PM. By the time I got there, it was 2:30PM. The charge for lunch was posted as £6.50. All you can eat for £6.50! That seemed even cheaper than remembereded. They make up for it by charging a lot fodrinksls, though. entereded seeking to be seated. The staff cautioned me that they closed in just 30 minutes. I didn't mind. I was on my own and could eat plenty in that time. I reasoned that if I ate enough, I could skip dinner later. I had two lovely platefuls. I was one of the last patrons to leave and it was only 3:15PM by the time I had paid the bill. Tom had cautioned that the earliest he'd be back home would be 5PM. I asked him to phone my mobile when he got back, which he said he would do. Shopping for ingredients would only take brief time, so I decided to sit on a bench in the atrium of Oriental City, where they have a stage and sometimes performances, and read, relaxing after my meal. After relaxing for awhile, I went about my shopping. Then it was time to make my way toward Tom's. I still hadn't heard from him, but I figured I would start making my way there, so when he called, I would be close by.
As I was walking back toward the Tube station, I saw a bus stop. As my Travelcard gave munlimiteded rides on Tubes and busses, I figured I would save my feet and ride the bus the one stop to the Tube station. Several men joined me wating at the bus stop, but they grew impatient waiting aneventuallyly started walking. I had plenty of time. Subsequently, a woman walking the other way informed me that the busses were temporarily not running down that street, because further up, the road was closed due to some sort of excavation work. Great! I returned to slowly walking to the Tube station. You would have thought some rocket scientist would have put a sign up on the bus schedule to inforpeoplele that the busses weren't running. At least it wasn't raining.(To be continued...)


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