London Recap Part 3 (The Bhangra Showdown 2012)

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bhangra empire birminghamNormally, the team leaves the day after a competition, so post competition activities include minimal sleep, packing, a final team meal together, and a trip to the airport. This is because competitions are usually on a Saturday and flying back the next day makes sense to make it back for school/work on Monday. Of course, this wasn’t one of those normal situations. We were in London and had flown a long way so everybody wanted to stay a few extra days. Some people were lucky enough to stay a whole extra week and go on a mini-eurotrip. I wasn’t one of those lucky people, but I did end up staying until Wednesday morning. But before Wednesday, comes Tuesday, and Monday, and Sunday, so I guess it would make sense to go chronologically.

omer puneet buckingham palaceSunday morning started pretty late for us. Understandably, the whole team was tired from the events of the day before (check out London Recap Part 2 to read more about that). So most of us missed the complimentary breakfast in the morning which would come back to bite us later in the day. We had been in contact with Dipps Bhamrah of Bhangra Breakdown (a radio show on the BBC Asian Network) and had an interview scheduled for around 12 PM. The Bhangra Breakdown is a weekly show that focuses, primarily, on the bhangra music scene in the UK and around the world. If you are interested in finding out more about The Bhangra Breakdown, you can do so on the BBC Website. I called into the show via phone for a quick 10 to 15 minute phone interview talking about Bhangra Empire, The Bhangra Showdown, and much more. You can listen to the full interview on our Soundcloud page. I had lost my voice the day before so my voice is a little scratchy, but it was nice talking to Dipps and we definitely appreciated the opportunity to be on the show. Special thanks to him and Sandy, the producer, for setting that up.

bhangra empire birmingham busAfter that we headed to Birmingham. Why Birmingham? Well, we were contacted to be a part of a special project that was taking place there. As of now, we can’t reveal many details about it, but hopefully, if all goes well, you should hear about it within the next few weeks. And of course, once the project does go public, I’ll post a blog on it, so look out for that. Birmingham was a 2+ hour drive away from London. The organizers of the project arranged a coach for us which was extremely nice of them and we left our hotel around 3 PM. It was a long day of a lot of hard work for the team, and we didn’t finish until 1 AM. But the team definitely had fun and had the opportunity to meet Panjabi MC (the producer behind the famous Beware of the Boys track featuring Jay-Z). By the time we reached back, it was extremely late (or early depending on how you look at it) so we headed directly to bed.

bhangra empire panjabi mcMonday was when we put on our tourist hats on and did some site seeing around London. It was still extremely cold, so we bundled up, and headed out in the morning. We made it just in time to check out the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. From there, we walked over to the London Eye, passed by Big Ben and Westminster Abby, and headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had been to London before so had seen most of that, but the coolest part was the Whispering Room in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a huge domed area towards the top of the cathedral and you could sit 50 to 100 feet away from somebody and whisper something into the wall. The other person, if they had their ear to the wall, would be able to hear what you were saying pretty clearly. After that, we headed to the Tower Bridge and Picadelly Circus (the Times Square of London).We then did some souvenir shopping, and finally looked for a place to bhangra empire buckingham palace towereat. We found this chinese place that was highly rated on Yelp and decided to eat there. I’m sure there were some really good dishes on the menu, but of course, with my luck, I ordered probably the worst possible dish. It was chili chicken, which was literally a bag of red chilies thrown on top of some dried chicken. Lets just say it wasn’t good at all and extremely spicy. Luckily, Poonam talked to the waiters into giving me some shrimp instead, but it was too late because my mouth was all messed up from the spiciness. And that was the end of our touristy day. We had a good time but it was extremely tiring and cold. Once back at the hotel, everybody went to sleep, except myself, because I had procrastinated on a paper that was due Monday at midnight. So I stayed up all night working on that (midnight Monday is 8 AM Tuesday morning London time). I fell asleep intermittently at my laptop, but finished the paper just in time. Note to self: in the future, do not bring school work to competition weekend.

bhangra empire danish osman airportTuesday, the fatigue, weather, and everything else caught up to me all at once. I was getting sick. Most of the team had left by now (either back home, or on their eurotrip). The few people that were left went to the mall, but I couldn’t hang. I ended up staying at the hotel for the first half of the day catching up on sleep and resting. In the evening, myself and Osman went to visit our family, whom I thought lived in Southall but they ended up leaving in Surrey which was about an hours drive away. I didn’t even know they had a Surrey in England, and unlike the one in Vancouver, it is not heavily populated with punjabis. But it was good seeing my cousins, catching up with them, and having a home cooked meal. Overall, it was good end to the trip.

And Wednesday morning we headed home. Osman, Danish, and Aman (who somehow got upgraded to first class) were on the flight going back. The good news was the flight wasn’t too full so I had a full row to myself. Instead of watching multiple movies like I did on the way there, I ended up watching like 6 episodes of Homeland on my iPad and sleeping the rest of the time. Overall, the London trip was an awesome experience and I was glad to be able to share it with the team. Thanks for everybody who supported us with this little adventure we had and be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of my London Recap if you haven’t done so already.