There is a colleague of mine working from Reading (pronounced as redding). He had offered to meet up for coffee if I am interested. So the previous day, I had called him up and told him that I would be free the next day and if it was convenient for him then we can meet up. And the trip from Ilford to Reading is further than the one from Ilford to Sutton. The next day I got my train to Liverpool Street and from there to Paddington and then take the Great Western to Cardiff Central which stops at Reading. Till Paddington it was OK. But then when I got the train to Cardiff Central, I did not see any ticket counter on the way (because I went from the underground to the national rail) and there were no oyster card swipe machines too. I was a little apprehensive, but then since that was the first train and it was about to start in 2 mins, I got in. It was like any meter gauge train, not like the underground or the overground trains that I normally took. This was the fastest train to Cardiff (Wales). The first stop was Reading. And it takes about 40 mins to reach. Almost near the stop, the ticket inspector came. Now I was petrified, because everyone had a ticket and I didn’t have time to even look around for one in the station. I asked him if the oyster card is not accepted. He was like ‘what??’ and then I told him that I was in a hurry and I didn’t know that I am supposed to take a ticket before. Thankfully, he mumbled something (and as long as I don’t hear , I don’t to bother about it right?) and then gave me a ticket because my station was nearing. Thankfully he did not add any fine. It costs about 17 pounds for the journey.. Good Lord!! But thankfully one problem averted. I guess I owe him a “Thank you Officer” in Gounder style 😉
Now comes the next tricky part. Recognizing my colleague. He said he would be wearing a pink shirt and will be near the information counter. Since my colleagues in Hyderabad had described him as a old fellow, because he has been in my company for a long time I assumed he would be around 50-60 yrs. I was trying to find a person who was of that age wearing a pink striped shirt. And then after some searching when I did not find him, my eyes went on to a guy standing in pink striped shirt but worn like a jacket ..(does it count for a shirt even then ? ) and then checking his phone. Now I was confused as to if this was the guy, because no one else was there in that color shirt. He was looking at me and I was looking at him and thinking.. God, it was so embarrassing and finally I asked him if he was my colleague. Thankfully, he said yes. Imagine if he had said no.. I would have to dig the ground and force it to swallow me. In a general scenario it is a no big deal. But its a big one for me as a person. I don’t know why I cannot start a conversation. Chatting, I can do confidently even to people I don’t know, or if someone asks me for something , like they did in the underground stations for directions , I don’t have a problem. But situations like this.. I just can’t handle. Thankfully I found him and we started our way out. We talked a lot while he was driving. He showed me around Reading and took me to the offices there, even though he is working from home. Then we went to Windsor. We went to the castle, I did not want to go inside another castle for now. But we did manage a walk around the place interacting. I usually do not open up to people that easily. But since I know him for a year now and have been working with him, it was little easy. We went for a lunch near the castle and then asked me if I had any other plans for the day. Since I had none, he took me to introduce his partner at home who collects antique books. Their place was a very nice one with a big backyard and I liked his partner very much. She is totally into books, so much that almost whole of their ground floor including the kitchen was covered with boxes of books. He had three dogs and those cuties were trying to get to know me. I have no problems with dogs, except that I don’t want them to lick me. Otherwise I get along with them well. And three of them wow.. After to both of them for a while and going through the book collections (which I was in awe of ) he offered me to join him for his daily dog walk. We took the dogs in the car to a near by dog walking area.
This walking area has lakes around and its a huge place…its just wow. I did not have my camera with me at that time.. left it at his home.. We had a good walk around. If we have such a place to walk the dogs well who doesn’t want to have one. Seems like he got them before they were put down and he trained them himself. Good.. there is this one dog (I forgot his name) who is the oldest and he was so cute, because all he wanted to do was sit beside me and have me scratch is neck. I always have soft spot for dogs. It was already 4 pm by then and it was time for me to get back. He dropped me off in the station and I thanked him for a good time and came back to my hotel at around 6.30 pm. Since I had a heavy lunch, I could skip dinner and go straight to bed.
I had only one more day left and I wasn’t sure what to do the next day. I was getting more tired day by day. So I didn’t want to hang out the whole day because I had to come back and start packing up too. At the end I decided to do the Emirates Cable car to Greenwich (pronounced as Grenich) and if mood permits see Greenwich Observatory too. And with that thought went to sleep.