from London

The first thing I noticed after I took a taxi out of Heathrow Airport was the distinct lack of people on the streets. There were only cars around. No bikes even. And the odd bus which reminded me of the BEST bus (bombay). Dunno why. When I landed in London, it was drizzling and extremely cold outside (in my 22 year career I’d never been exposed to temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius before this). Thank goodness I had kept my jacket with me in my hand. We waited around the airport for an hour trying to decide how to get to our hotel. Finally four of us (2 ppl from Goldman Sachs, tommy and I) took a taxi which was finally paid for by Goldman!!

As soon as we reached our hotel (Club Quarters is a 3-star hotel just next to St. Paul’s Cathedral in a non-descript building on a 30-ft wide road!!), we were asked to cough up 100 pounds as a security deposit! half my money gone! The rooms are pretty decent though, though i haven’t been able to figure out the A/C – heater system properly and I’m not used to such soft matresses. A really funny thing here is the lack of staircases! You’re forced to use the lift and one of the two lifts isn’t working which causes some real problems. Tommy and I found a way out yesterday by using the fire exit! Have been using it ever since.

Coming to the important stuff now… my office. It’s a huge hall without any walls, around two hundred meters long and two hundred metres wide! The part where I sit is literally OVER a road. I mean, they’ve constructed pillars and built 15 floors over them! across the road. so it so happens that vehicles pass under me as i’m working! you’ve to see it to believe it. amazing. and from my seat, i can see vehicles passing on the road whenever i’m bored. it’s damn good.

Investment banks are really one place where the organizational structure isn’t reflected by where you sit. My managing director has a similar workspace as me! the same 4 feet of desk space. A telephone switchboard (called a dealer board). 2 phones. A computer. Three monitors (maybe the MD has six). A nice swivel chair with wheels.

I am the fifth guy in my team – there are 3 brits and one pakistani. One guy sits next to me and three behind me. The paki is a damn friendly chap and keeps giving me gyan every now and then. The others also keep chipping in. A marked difference from IBM (where I interned 2 years ago) where I had one more guy in my team, who was hajjaaar reserved and lived a floor below and I had to hunt him down to talk to him! My work so far has included reading theory, summarizing articles and, yes, fetching coffee. Today I was reading something when the guy next to me said, “Karthik (surprisingly they pronounce my name correctly, though because of the screwed up first name – surname funda, some people do end up calling me by my dad’s name!), I have some urgent and important work for you. Go to the 11th floor and get one cafe latte, one … , blah blah”. The only upside of this was that he paid for my coffee!!

Then, about food. Since i’m still in a hotel, i haven’t started cooking yet. Breakfast has been paid for but the other meals are a pain. Being a vegetarian creates its own problems. I’m dead tired of sandwitches and McDonalds (where there’s only one vegetarian dish). Finally this afternoon, I managed to get myself a pretty comprehensive salad made in the canteen for ?3.5 (Rs. 290!!). I’m also trying to remember my 9th standard biology as i try to maintain a balanced diet (while i was getting the salad made, i was remembering… groundnuts: proteins… carrot: Vitamin A… Potato: calories… etc.). Didn’t need to bother about it in India where sambar, rice, curry and chapati would take care of all my requirements! Wish i’d paid more attention in Jnani and Robo’s classes!

Well, I guess that will do for the first instalment. More later… Keep the comments flowing…

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