Yes! I can now proudly declare to the world that I have finally got my visa to the UK and this was my third attempt. I had made previous attempts to get a UK visa but was rejected in 2014 and then in 2016 for frivolous and silly reasons. This time, my documentation was perfect and my financials were crystal clear with a letter from my bank manager. Yes, this time, I got my visa and it is a multiple entry visa valid for six months. Ah! I can take a sigh of relief now. The first thing I did after I saw my stamped passport was to call my friend Amir in Pakistan and inform him that I was coming and that I had got the visa. Amir is one of my oldest friends and is a second generation British Pakistani. We studied together in Christ College from 1988 to 1992 and he was my closest buddy during my seven years of student days in London and then at UMIST in Manchester.
Next, my figures went on the computer as I got the cheapest tickets to London and, yes, I am taking the Air India flight. A return ticket cost me Rs 55,000. If I had booked it a few months in advance, I could have gotten the ticket for Rs 40,000 which would have been a huge saving. But, my visa came through at the last hour and I could only book the 55k ticket. The other thing I did was to book tickets to the Lord’s One Day International between India and England. This cost me Rs 23,000. As if that was not enough, I bought the tickets to the Wimbledon which cost me a bomb, Rs 34,000. I purchased these online through StubHub, a site dedicated to selling tickets for Events, Sports and Concerts. It is officially an eBay ticketing site. Since most tickets for the Lord’s One Day and Wimbledon get sold out in the first few minutes, sites like StubHub allows its members to sell their tickets through their site. So if you are lucky, you can get last-minute tickets here. It is a bit expensive but you can be sure to get last-minute tickets here. I booked for the second one day and a full day at the doubles court at Wimbledon. My 12th July and 14th July are fully booked to capture these two great sporting events and stadiums. I can’t wait! I spent seven years in this country and I never went to both of these places. I wonder what I was into in those days. But today at 44 years of age, I am returning to the county that shaped a lot of my ideas, values and the way I see life and other people. After all, from 14 to 21 years of age, I spent all my time either in London or Manchester. So England has had a huge impact on the turns my life took and the man I am today. For me, it is like the return of the prodigal son, a homecoming of sorts after 23 years. Yes, it’s been that long when I left the country after getting my engineering degree from UMIST in Manchester in the summer of 1995. I never went back to the country till now. That’s a long long time.
Finally, the time of my grand reunion with old friends and college buddies can go through. We chat with each other on Facebook but now, we will be sipping beer in a local pub in Greenwich soon. Christ’s College Blackheath, my all-boys British boarding school, I can’t wait to film it and capture it through my lens.
This will indeed be the UK Nostalgia Tour for me where I will walk on some old forbidden roads of the past.