Showing posts with label American in London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American in London. Show all posts

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sabrina's London Diaries- The End of an Era ~ The End of Part 1

Dear Reader of Sabrina's London Diaries:

I went to London in September 2008 just for a 3 week vacation. I was in my third semester of Graduate school, getting my MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College and writing a Musical.  On the first night I arrived, the man I went to visit,  told me, " I'm sorry your not the one !"  I decided to not go home with my tail between my legs and decided to make the best of a bad situation and live there. Being what I laughingly, call, " dumped upon arrival", was the best thing that ever happened to me, I took my feelings of rejection and remorse and turned things around for the better. I realized this man was not my enemy, but my manivater ( a man that motivates) and catalyst for making me do my Human Revolution I ended up living in London  for two years and it was the best two years of my life ! 

 This blog is part travel journal, part personal memoir, sometimes private and sometimes not. I write about my initial culture shock of living in London, in articles, such as: My Initial Impressions of the Drinking Habits of the English and Some Language Differences I find Funny.

I also write about my Dating conundrums and mishaps in a self-deprecating blog (blog series within this blog),called, "Finding Mr. Darcy"---- a serious Austenite my dating blogs look at the romantic life of a single girl through a 18th century lens looking backwards, but then racing towards the future with exuberant optimism.   Having the opportunity to date and experience men from all over the globe, I write as a Romantic Anthropoligist, in blogs such as: Are Italian Men Really Great Lovers ? Israeli Soldier vs. English Gentleman, The Rugged vs. The Refined, and Dating in London: American Cowboy vs. English Bloke

Being absolutely nutty about History and it's great people, I also write about some of History's greatest people: Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, and of course, Harry Potter

This blog evolved from someone telling me that I should write about my experience in London. One year and a half later, I am still writing about my experience in London. I came back to Los Angeles in 2010, after a 2 years sojourn in London, and I found that it has changed so much. But, it's like in the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Benjamin Button, says in the movie as he narrates his story, after he comes home for being gone so long and traveling all over the world, " It's not that Tenessee has changed it's that I have changed."  And, so, it's not that Los Angeles has changed so much, or even America, it's that I had changed. My views and perceptions of life and the world have changed along with that and I will never be the same. Living in London has changed the way I see the world, and now the way I see myself in the world and that is why I must share what I learned !

Living in London for me, was an absolute dream come true. In my blog, I live to tell the tale and I am still telling it after all these years, and plan to publish my memoirs.


Sabrina Grace~

p.s. This is the End of the First Part of Sabrina's London Diaries. In the future, I will be publishing more blogs on Jane Austen, Book Reviews, Dating in Los Angeles, Culture in Los Angeles, Food,  and Green Living.  As well as, anecdotal commentary on society in English society and my new perspective on the world, living and thriving again in Los Angeles, California as a Language InstructorChef and Writer.

All blogs are written by Sabrina Rongstad-Bravo More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries

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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Dating in London: American cowboy vs. English bloke

Before I came to London I never much fancied American men. I thought they were rough around the edges,unsophisticated, loud, obnoxious, and not well traveled. All these clichés that the whole world thinks and believes about Americans I also thought the same thing too. I know it's a shame that I could think so poorly of my own people. But, some of those clichés and generalizations do hold some truth. I know from experience. Back home, I also dated many sophisticated, well traveled and highly educated men. But, something inside me was turned off by American men. Perhaps, the grass is always greener on the other side and I preferred the flavor of some different more exotic food than what I was used to or what was in front of me.

Living in London has taught me to appreciate American men more. After dating men from about 10 different countries, I can finally assess honestly that American men are the most generous, kind, open, feminist, and straightforward. I dated an American man he always insisted on walking on the outside of the street just in case someone splashed water on my hoop skirt ( hee hee). He was very gentlemanly and always offered to carry my big satchel. On the other hand, when I told them that I had myriad of professions they rooted my multi- talented and diversity instead of making me out as some circus freak that can't focus.They are also very generous to everyone: they tip the waitress and taxi drivers 20%, whether they are rich or not. I think American men appreciate my ambition, assertiveness and straightforwardness. Where with a lot of European men they are threatened by my strength, an American man can handle me and bring out my best. My Italian boyfriend told me one time he thought I was too masculine. I just told him he was too feminine and that he could not handle me.He also couldn't change a light bulb to save his life.  When I asked him to change the light bulb it took him two months, then when he finally did he broke the light bulb and he broke the fuse. Italian men have a bit of a dandy in them and take preening to the extreme. I do start to worry when a man I am dating has over preoccupation with his looks and with fashion more than I do. Anyway, we are talking about American men not Italian men. So let's not get off the subject.

Whateeevah! I also think American men are more spiritual, especially Californian men. Most men in the world American or not, are just not interested in spirituality. They don't get it in the way women are naturally talking about Star Signs and the supernatural. That's just men for you !Some English men though, unless they are Buddhist or are from Glastonbury ( is a new age village known for it's hippies and new age airy fairies don't understand a thing about spirituality; karma, or New Age philosophy, metaphysics. It's not that they are closed off to it, sometimes they are interested in it and ask me lots of questions. But, many thinks it's airy fairy to talk about this stuff. It's just not in the culture so don't even bother. So ladies if you can accept some of what I mentioned about English culture English culture and try and focus on the positive qualities of English men (immigrants: European/ Middle Eastern/ Asian men),you are going to have a really fun adventure and unforgettable time. And stories definitely you can tell your grandchildren and your friends and family back home. I can write a book dedicated to dating around the world, but this is just a glimpse of my vast experiences. These are my personal experiences with men in London that has made me a wiser woman. OK dolls this has been my own unique experiences now be brave date as many men as possible and get back to me (lol!) Maybe, we can write a book together.. Huh? Anyone out there, want to co-write a book with me?

Note Bene: Some of these vignettes are gross generalizations and gross exaggerations, it's all meant in the spirit of humanistic humor and fun. No offense is meant so no offense is taken. If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas Ideas That Are Good for You and the Planet

I often head down to the park and enjoy my Spanish omelet and my thermos of Earl Grey. This travel mug helps me save hundreds of paper cups from ruining the environment. Starbucks gives me .25 p off and I don't have to waste cups. Those paper cups, especially the Styrofoam cups have a lot of chlorofluorocarbons in them. This is very bad for the environment.Please try to use a thermos whenever you can. In the winter, it's great, because your teas, hot cocoa and coffee will stay warm much longer. Not, only that, you can put shots of Vodka and Baileys, and then take it to the movie theater and to the museums and this will keep you warm in London. The temperature has now dropped to 1 Celsius, it's chilly but lovely in Londinium.

Bodum Travel Mug

The name "MUJI" is derived from the Japanese phrase "Mujirushi Ryohin," meaning "No Brand Goods." Over the last 20 years, they have developed a worldwide following with a guiding philosophy that emphasizes innovative and simple materials, processes, and packaging. The resulting products are streamlined, environmentally friendly, and beautiful in their simplicity.

This set of five unisex ankle socks is made from recycled fabric. Each set comes in a random assortment of colors. These socks will keep your tootsies warm.





Sunday, 29 November 2009

Some Ways to Enjoy London if Your an Expat

The Expats:Katka,Check Republic,Frederico,Spain,Nacima,French via Morocco,and Sabrina,The American. Four friends,getting together for a day on London's Southbank to enjoy Shakespeare at The Globe.Katka and I used to work at the Rizzoli bookstore in Santa Monica together and would cause a bunch of mischievous havoc together. Now living back in Check Republic, she came to visit me in London with her posh American doctor boyfriend, who was really gracious and treated us to pizza after the show.It's a small world after all.

London is one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world. It's a virtual historical theme park. There are more free things to do per square feet. But apart from there being more free galleries and museums than anywhere in the world, London can be seen and enjoyed on any budget. If you are an Expat and you want to see more of London and you've seen British Museum 10 times and you are a bit bored by King Ramses, and you are tired of having tea with the Queen, here are some ideas that will give you some inspiration to delve a bit deeper in English and London culture.

1)Royal Historic Palaces. A membership for a whole year will cost you just £39 and you 'll be able to enjoy free entrance on all five historical palaces for a whole year. In addition be invited to exclusive parties and events for example concerts in Banqueting House. The five Historic Palaces are: Kensingston Palace. Tower of London. Hampton Court. Kew Palace and Gardens. Banqueting House.

The Tower of London

I know Disneyland was modeled after the castle in Germany, but
I can't help it, but The Tower reminds me of Disneyland.It's no Disneyland,for sure,it's filled with ghosts from England's torturous past. Anne Boleyn was decapitated here.Guy Fawkes and countless other poor victims punished for sometimes innocent crimes.Some, were fed to the eels in The Thames River.

Sabrina with the judges at the Anne Boleyn Trial.
Notice that the judge would not let me hold his hand, it had to be like so, very proper Elizabethan Court etiquette, mind you.What I really wanted was to hold the judge with with the dark brooding looks,I mean hold his hand that is.Isn't he gorgeous? I would like to get a job at The Tower of London just so I can look at him all day.

2. London Walks One of London's best kept secrets is The London Walks.Go on a specialized London Walks with the London Walks people.They have walks on Victorian London. Occult London.The London of Harry Potter.Da Vinci Code London. Shakespeare and Dickens London. Many are specialist in their chosen field, some are actors so the walk is not only educational, they can be quite funny and entertaining.

Oscar Wilde( Alan Titchard)- London Walk

3. Thames River Dinner Cruise. This is a great way to see the city and enjoy the architecture. For only about £7 you can get an all day pass. You can go up and down the river. Or, if you are feeling like you want to celebrate and paint the town, go on aRiver Boat Dinner Cruise.

Hey! Save some for me man! My American friend Chuck from Texas, that doesn't like to admit he's from Texas.Can you blame him(Lol!)

After a full day of site seeing, going to about 5 museums, the London Eye then we went on the Bateaux London River Boat Dinner Cruise. It included live music,full 7 course dinner, complimentary glass of champagne,vodka sorbet,desert, and then a bottle of wine to boot. Two crazy Americans in London, we were so happy, we ate, danced and drank and if that wasn't enough when the cruise ended,we hailed a cab to take us to Buddha Lounge to party more. We didn't realize it was just 2 blocks away,How stupid did we feel.Hilarious! This was one of my most memorable and MAGICAL days of many magical days in London!!

The riverboat tour is wonderful it meets at Embankment(across from the tube) and goes first West then makes a loop and at the Tower of London( all sorts of excited hoopla happens there for some reason) and then goes East towards Greenwich. Seeing London by boat is a first class superb way to see all the major London attractions and architecture without walking around or getting into a car.I really recommend the Bateaux Riverboat experience.

4.See Theater-London is perhaps best known for its first-class theater scene. From raucous musicals to serious Shakespearean dramas, there is a show for every taste. Go to a matinee. Matinees are always cheaper than night shows and are generally less crowded. Go to a show just before it starts. If the show is not sold out, leftover tickets are often sold at a lower rate. See shows in the middle of the week rather than on the weekend. Shows midweek are generally less crowded and you are more likely to get cheap tickets. Buy tickets online. Many online ticket agencies offer specials for as low as 10 pounds. But, the best thing to do is just head over to Leicester Square about an hour before the show and buy your tickets. Then, go to a pub, or the Theaters cocktail bar for a drink.

5. The best thing about living in London is that it's so close to so many fantastic English towns:Cambridge,Windsor, Oxford, Brighton,Stonehenge and
Bath just to name a few, and are just a few hours away on the train. You can also travel all over the United Kingdomo, Edinburgh, Scotland and Wales. Book online and in advance and you'll get a good offer. Book online with National Express, Virgin Trains, and Megabus. Megabus, like in America offers really cheap fares even for the same day.

Some Important Websites

More in Sabrina's London Diaries
Dating in London
London Fashion

Saturday, 21 November 2009

My Top Eleven Things to Do in London for Free

1. Art Galleries
London has some of the best art on the planet.The Tate Modern focuses on contemporary art while Tate Britaindisplays British Art from the sixteenth century to the present day.Other major London art galleries include the The National Portrait Gallery,The National Gallery,both in Trafalgar Square.I would also recommend, The Wallace Collection,which is a great respite after a hectic day of shopping on Oxford Street. And remember,many musuems and galleries are open late on Friday night.

2.London Museums
Visit and enjoy many of the London museums which happened to be free.
These Museums not only are free,they offer a great way to see world class art, sculptures.In Kensington you can hit three museums in one afternoon on musuem row:
The Victoria and Albert Museum,
The Natural History Museum,
and The Science Museum .

At The British Museumin Russel Square one
can see Egyptian mummies,ancient Roman,Greek and Oriental artifacts, Elgin marbles(involved in an ongoing cultural tug-of-war between the British and Greek Governments),and the Rosetta Stone(the key to translating hieroglyphics).Much of it was stolen from other countries.Not only is it the oldest museum in the world but, since its inception in 1753, the institution has managed to build an unrivalled collection of exhibits from the ancient world, many of them gifts from wealthy collectors.

3.London Churches
You can see insideWestminster Abbey
for free.The Abbey never charges people who want to worship but they rely on admission fees from visitors to cover running costs. Evensong is the most beautiful of services where the Abbey choir sings. The Choristers of the Choir are educated at Westminster Abbey Choir School and are all extremely talented. Evensong is at 5pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, plus at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

American Girl Will Show You London Tour
Chuck Lankford on The American Tour of Westminster Abbey

You can also enter St.Pauls Cathedral
to see the Choral Evensong. Like Westminster Abbey, it ususally starts at 5:00pm Monday thru Friday, and it's free! Also, The Brompton Oratory has free concerts.The choir has appeared in award-winning recordings on DG Archiv and frequently sings for productions of the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Enjoy beautiful polyphonic music and Gregorian chants while sitting in resplendent baroque Italian architecture.

4. Royal Parks
There are often free talks and guided walks in the royal parks so do check the What's On section of the Royal Parks website.Royal Historic Parks. There are 8 park. St. James Park. Regent's Park. Hyde Park. Kensingston Gardens. Bushy Park. Greenwich Park. Green Park. They often have wonderful walks and events that are free.

5.Changing of the Guard
No visit to London is complete without seeing this military tradition. The Queen's Guard in London changes in the Forecourt inside the gates of Buckingham Palace at 11.30am every day in the summer and every other day in the winter. Get there early and view the spectacle from outside the front gates.

6. South Bank
It really is amazing how many London landmarks you can see along this stretch of the River Thames including The ship theHMS Belfast,
Tate Modern, Shakespeare Globe Theater, and so much more.

7. Street Performers
The West Piazza of Covent Garden Market has street performers to entertain you every day.Covent Garden has live singers from The Royal Opera House and classical musicians. (All performers have a license and have gone on an audtion).Grab a hot cocoa or glass of wine, sit on the piazza and voila there you have entertainment for an afternoon and evening.You will find more street performers at the weekend along the South Bank, particularly outside the National Theater.

8.London Markets
London is well-known for its popular street markets. The most popular are Camden Market and Portobello Market, following closely by Greenwich Market. Find out about these markets and more:

London Street Market's
Camden Market
Portobello Market
Greenwich Market
Old Spitalfields Market
Brick Lane Market(Sundays only)
Petticoat Lane Market
Picadilly Market
Columbia Flower Market (Sunday mornings only)
Borough Market

9. Libraries
Many of the London Libaries are free. When you got the site seeing blues, check out your local London library and just relax among the books. Get a library card and then you can check your internet for free. But, the best library of them all, and probably the best library on the planet is The British Library.They care the biggest collection of the world of Jewish, Christian and Muslim books. Check out Shakespeare's original folios.See The Magna Carta. Find out how different people were effected by the Magna Carta.

10.Free Entertainment

St. Martin in the Fields Church offers free Concerts on Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 pm. It's very relaxing, just to sit back and relax and her a Brandenburgh Concert or Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Also, there are inexpensive concerts in the evening where you can hear French cafe music or live jazz. Usually it's quite inexpensive and tickets are usually £10.

You may also attend a Lunchtime Recitals at the The Royal Opera Houseat 1 pm. The tickets need to be confirmed 9 days before the show.And, can be bought online at It's a great way to spend an afternoon and take a break from your work day, or if you want to relax and hear some beautiful music.


You can't go inside the Tower Bridge for free, but you can look at it for free.
London Bridge was originally the only crossing for the Thames. As London grew, so more bridges were added, although these were all built to the west of London Bridge, since the area east of London Bridge had become a busy port.

American Girl(that's me),Will Show You London Tour

Lee Howard on The American Tour of Tower Bridge

Schedules for Events in London:

St. Martin in the Fields Concert Schedule

Changing of the Guard
Westminster Abbey Music and Choir Schedule
St.Paul's Choral SongSchedule
The Brompton Oratory Choir Schedule
London Market Schedule
For More Free Things to do in London

One of the few things I do in life is give TOURS OF LONDON,
American Girl Will Show You London

-How to be A Romantic Romeo on a Date
- Green London
- Ghosts of London Walking Tour
-What to do if your in London for awhile and have seen all the major sites

Thursday, 23 July 2009

How To Say Thank you in 15 Languages

In my opinion, the phrase, "thank you", to me is very important and often rings music to my ears. I remember growing up and my big brother would often tell me," Thank you Sabrina!", just for washing the dishes. I remeber it made me feel so special and appreciated, just over a small task. But, my brother was smart because it also reinforced my chances of doing the dishes again (lol). Not only that those small things in my childhood reminded how important it is to not forget your manners, even in the most smallest of moments. Those details of one's childhood often find their way into the fabric of your adult life. How often do we forget to say, "thank you" and the small acts of kindess towards our well being. Or how often do we stop and slow down so it comes from the heart. Good manners is not some thing to be done like automaton behavior ( we aren't robots), but should be expressed from our natural instincts when something happens that we are grateful for. Perhaps, when we want to show appreciation and joy to someone when they do something for us for our well being and happiness.

My new Pakistani friend, Salma ( like Salma Hayek),that works at the Palymyra News ( The 24 hour Magazine and Off license shop),how to say," Thank you!" in her native language Urdu, which is "Shukria".There are so many different cultures in Bayswater, the area I live in that I figuree I should at least learn how to say in a different language,"Thank You!" Since then, I have learned how to say "Thank you" in 15 languages.

How To Say Thank you in Ten Langauges:

1. Shukria(Urdu)
2. Shukran ( Arabic)
3. Shukriya( Hindi)
4. Shukur (Kurdi spoken Iraq, Iran)
5. Gum xia Hokkien (Chinese)
6. Merci(Iran,Afghanistan)
7. Toda raba (Hebrew)
8. Spasibo (Russia)
9. Nandri(India, Southeast Asia)
10. Tesekkür ederim (Turkey, Northern Cyprus)
11. Tashakkur (Uzbekistan)
12. A dupe (Nigeria)
13. Asante(Southeast Africa)
14. khob-kun-Ka;If you are a woman; khob-kun-Krub,if you are a man(Thai),
15. Arigato ( Japanese).

Take a note that in Farsi, they say " Merci" like
the French, say "Merci Beaucoup!". It's probably the only French
influence on the Iranian language. Also, the prefix for "THANK YOU !" is the same in Urdu (Shukria),Arabic (Shoukran), Hindi ( Shukriya),Shukur (Kurdi).
Nonetheless,it's very easy to get confused and so I often tell the Hindi person person Shoukran and Arabic person Shukriya. It's interesting because Urdu has elements of the Arabic language. Urdu (اردوUrdū, IPA: [ˈʊrd̪uː] ( listen), historically spelled Ordu, Ordos dialect) is a Central Indo-Aryan language[1][2] of the Indo-Iranian branch, belonging to the Indo-European family of languages. It is a derivative of Hindustani, owes its roots to Sanskrit and is the national language and one of the two official languages (the other being English) of Pakistan. Spoken in five Indian states, it is also one of the 22 official languages of India. Its vocabulary developed under Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic and Turkic. In modern times Urdu vocabulary has been significantly influenced by Punjabi and even English.

Of course, my favorite "Thank You!" is in Hebrew, " Toda Raba", because "todo" means "all" ( Spanish), and "raba" sounds like roba, which comes from the infinitive robar means "to steal". I find it funny !!It doesn't make any sense, but it's interesting to find out how the different languages sound the same. It's even more interesting to discover how similar cultures share similar langauges roots. The best part is that it's even more fun to start talking in a certain language and connecting with people on a different level just because you speak their language.

Oh and "Thank you" for reading this blog.

Stay Tuned for more LONDON DIARIES

Friday, 12 June 2009

Some Language Differences I Find Funny

When I first came on London I had to not only adjust to the
different accent, but also to the funny way the British speak.
Many times when I was at my hotel when I asked them where was the trash bin was,they would say," Pardon me?!!" They didn't know what I meant by that.
Immigrants are a bit slower than British in their awareness of American English. Often I would go to a off license store and ask the Pakistani clerk for batteries or to TOP UP ( TOP UP,is another phenomena in the UK which I will get into in my next blog) my cell phone, the clerk would reply with " Sorry!" I didn't know what they were sorry about, because they certainly had not offended me. But that was their way of saying could you repeat yourself Madam. BESIDES EVERYONE SAYS SORRY HERE IN THE UK even if they bump into you in the que.

That's another thing people are quite formal in the UK, and they often call me
Madame.Personally, I prefer Madamoiselle or Miss. Service people at groceries stores and boutiques ask, " how may I serve you?" or have you been served?".Americans say:"How may I help you? or Have you been helped?" To me, asking someone,"how can I serve you?",seems a bit subservient. I don't like the way it sounds. It supposedly has to do with the British sense of knowing your place in society. British are very status and class conscious even in the 21 st century. Interestingly enough,similar mores of status and decorum still apply in Mexico.For example, when they say,"Como puedo servirte?"( How can I serve you?)I don't like the way that sounds either.But,I am entitled to my opinion. And, as long as I get paid for my opinions I will keep giving them(LOL !).

Anyway, here are some of the language differnces that I find very funny
and wanted to share with you. Many are slang terms
that I find terribly charming and most enjoyable.

1. Goolies-
1. Private parts
2. Family Jewels
"I kicked him in the goolies"
2. Rubbish- for trash.
It's quite frequently used. For example, I am rubbish
at tennis. Or, Paris Hilton acting is rubbish.
3. You are getting on my tits.= means you are annoying me.
4. You got your knickers caught in a twist= means you
are bambuzzled and frazzled.
5.Pissed- drunk, not angry or mad
6. wanker- jerk.
7. bullocks-that's a lie. As in that 's bullocks!
Bollocks 1660 up, 102 down
A highly flexible term commonly used by the English.

1. something rubbish
2. a falsehood or series of lies
3. something great
4. the best possible
5. testicles
6. exclamation on making a error.
1. That Mel Gibson movie was a load of bollocks.
2. That Tony Blair is talking bollocks.
3. That curry was the bollocks!
4. That your wife is the dog's bollocks when it comes to cooking!
5. Then she kicked him in the bollocks.
6. Bollocks!

Some funny phrases:
"You honestly expect me to believe you're going to tell John what I did with his wife? You haven't got the bollocks."
"Two Stellas, a Fosters, a Bacardi and Diet Coke and a Carling-top please. ...oh, make that half a Fosters - that's bollocksed you, hasn't it? Let's call it a tenner for cash, eh?"
8. fag-cigarette
In BrE the phrase "I could murder a fag" may refer to a compulsion to smoke a cigarette, while in AmE it indicates an intention to kill a homosexual.
9. take the mickey (out of someone) Vrb phrs. To tease, to ridicule. Also shortened to take the mick. An abbreviated form of the Cockney rhyming slang take the mickey bliss, meaning 'take the piss'. E.g."Stop taking the mickey out of Billy, he's very sensitive and you're upsetting him." Cf. 'take the Michael' and 'extract the Michael'. [1930s]
10. take the piss Vrb phrs. 1. To ridicule, to tease, to make fun off. Cf. 'extract the urine'. 2. To take advantage of, to exploit. E.g."Just because they like looking after their grand children, doesn't mean you can dump the kids on them every weekend whilst you go out clubbing. That's just taking the piss."
take the mickey (out of someone) Vrb phrs. To tease, to ridicule. Also shortened to take the mick. An abbreviated form of the Cockney rhyming slang take the mickey bliss, meaning 'take the piss'. E.g."Stop taking the mickey out of Billy, he's very sensitive and you're upsetting him." Cf. 'take the Michael' and 'extract the Michael'. [1930s] take the piss Vrb phrs. 1. To ridicule, to tease, to make fun off. Cf. 'extract the urine'.
11. airy-fairy. non substantial. They often think Californians are airy fairy with their New Age thinking.
12. bugger off-Verb. Get lost. Usually said in annoyance. " Bugger off you wanker!"
13. knackered- be tired. I just got done playing with my grandchildren and I am knackered.
14. tenner- a ten pound note. For example,I had fish and chips and a pint of beer, all for a tenner. ( I made this one up)

or to understand the context and meaning of slang terms consult


Saturday, 18 April 2009

My Daily Life in London: Humorous Escapades in Food, Ducks and Strange Alleyways

I have a predictable routine or variations thereof,
that I do almost everyday. Recently,a friend of mine, Keith Van Loen,(I playfully call him Lord Van Loen),photographer for Grazia magazine took some 200 odd photos of me of portraying some of my daily routine in London. My daily routine usually consists of eating a traditional hearty English Breakfast at my Hotel, including some really black strong tea.Or if I am not in the mood to talk to the local guests I 'll just have breakfast in my room usually porridge and grapefruit. For lunch, I head over to Whitelys ( the shopping mall) for Lebanese food. So far, I have eaten the same Lebanese food for 10 days and I don't get sick of it. It's always Mujjaddara(Lentils and Rice), Mousakka(Aubergine and Garbanzos Salad) and then some sort of Chicken variation. I love it! Then, I'll have another cup of tea, this time it's China Rose Tea,roses are good for you,so fragrant and elegant. While I am eating I usually brush up on my French. (I finally decided to focus on my French. It was the language of the aristocracy, after all. Many Britons speak French as a second language.) They play Julio Iglesias or the Gypsy Kings in the background and for that time I am so relaxed and in heaven. After that, I head to Kensingston Gardens and walk a bit (walk of the sausages,hehee!, that's right!),get some fresh air and feed the ducks. After that, I go to my office,(the local Internet Cafe)to surf the web,do market research, put my ads up,and do some writing. Then,when I've had enough,I cross the street to Planet Organic (the UK's version of Whole Foods),to have a Chai Latte and have a chat with my friends that work there. Sometimes, I'll go for lunch on Portobello Road down the block and have some really interesting Thai food lunch specials ( just £6-).One day I went on a date there in the afternoon and they were shooting a Bollywood type of movie with this man in pink sari.On days I am more energetic I'll go to a Gallery or Museum for about an hour, check out the artwork or artifacts have a tea and then get their schedule so that later I can come back for a proper tour. Most of the museums are free in London so it's easy just to pop in and out, whenever you have a chance. The Victoria and Albert Museum , is across from Hyde Park and right next to it the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.If I am in the mood just to escape I'll go to Whitely's Mall,(the oldest shopping mall in London)to the Odeon theater and catch a matinee. Sometimes a really shallow lighthearted movie, is all I need to clear my head and get me motivated for the tasks that lie ahead of me. The last movie I saw was, He's not that into you. When are the going to make, She's not that into you? Perhaps a sequel is in order.

At night, I usually work teaching Spanish, go to a buddhist meeting in Notting Hill, dance class or try to catch a play or a movie. Late a night,I'll go have a glass of wine at my favorite hotel, The Blakemore Hotel or go to this club where they play an intersting mix of two music genres that I absolutely love, Latin and Arabic.Sometimes, I'll check out the Palmyra News that's owned by Pakistanis, they have a lot of chic International magazines and are opened 24 hours. Anyone that knows me knows I am crazy about magazines, so it's a magazinaholics paradise ! They have Russian, Italian and Spanish Vogue. They also carry the posh British magazines like Tatler and Red.

Sometimes late at night,I love going on walks by myself,(or if I am lucky with a friend), especially when it's foggy, because my neighborhood has the most mysterious old world alleys and side streets, that make me feel I am walking in a different century. Very romantic ! It's times like this when I most appreicate being in London. After having some skullcap, passiflora tea I fall asleep with a smile and thank my lucky stars for my beautiful life.

Safiq, Sabrina and Hashim at Queens Hotel

Me at Planet Organic

Feeding the Ducks Kensinston Gardens

Stay Tuned for more

Sunday, 29 March 2009

What's it like to be an American Buddhist in London. How is the practice the same and how is it different.

Being a Buddhist in London is not any different from being a Buddhist
in America. Remember that saying," you can run but you can't hide."
You carry your karma in a suitcase so it's with you wherever you go.
The Buddhist in London are lovely. Very well mannered. We have to sign
a log in book whenever we go to a Center. They want to keep track of
all the members, just in case there is a disaster or in London's case
a fire. Before meetings there is, what I call in case of a fire pep talk.
" Ok, just in case there is a fire everyone is to meet on the corner
of Hunter Street and Handel Street". I found it quite interesting and thought it was certainly because of the great fire of London in 1666 that wiped out most of the city. But when I had asked at a meeting everyone laughed and explained
to me it's most certainly not because of the Great Fire but
because of the Law. So there you have it.

Also, when the members get together to clean the centers. They do it in a very organized fashion. We put on uniforms and carry little carry all cases fully
supplied with rubber gloves, pine sol and sometimes eco friendly products
to clean our centers. Supposedly, cleaning the centers is a metaphor to cleaning one's karma. And, also a way of eradicating our ego and arrogance
that blocks us from achieving success in life. Nothing like cleaning the
toilets !I really look forward to it ! Seriously! It's quite humbling,
but it really feels great.

A thing I found most interesting is that our Monthly Kosen Rufu Gongyo sometimes takes place in people's homes or at a local community center.
Where in America we have big huge Kosen Rufu gongyo's where sometimes
up to a hundred people attend. In London it's quite different.
I went to Kosen Rufu gongyo at someone's house in Swiss Cottage-London, only to find only 4 people showed up.

The members in my group have visited me in my home and chanted with me.
The members in my Bayswater group have been quite supportive
and helpful. The Buddhist activity is called Keibi. The equivalent
of Byakuren( Young Women's Division- behind the scenes) are the Lilacs.
The Lilacs are quite diligent about giving you water as soon as your done drinking one glass they are their to serve you another one.

Being a buddhist in London is quite different from America.
I had to assimilate of course to fit in. There are Buddhist
members from all over the world in London. In the end, we are all the same
in our fight for happiness of ourselves and others.

Monday, 16 March 2009

The Differences between America and England

When I first came to London I never expected
so many huge differnces. I always say, "same language,different culture."

I actually think it's a different language.
There is American -English and then there's
English- English.Some of those differences are of course the
language. I spent my first month or two
hardly understanding the British accent.
And, often going to the store to have people
tell me " I am sorry!" because they also couldn't
understand my English. (Well mostly, it's because
there such a large immigration populationg
that many immigrants don't speak English well.
That's another story. For another blog.)

First of all, it's true what they say
that the British are very polite.
It's reflected in the behavior and demeanor
of working class people.
I find the people working at the tube
station are extremely kind and helpful.
You could go to any one of them lost
and say to them excuse me I need to get to such and
such place. They always very patiently
tell you you must go this way and that
way. All very charmingly done while
saying "Darling","Love" or "Dear".
These cutesy words are mostly
used by the working class, but who
doesn't want to be called darling.

Another big difference is people seldom tip.
It's just not in the English culture. If you go to
a restaurant the service charge is already
implied in the bill. You can always
add more if you need to improve your
karma that day or what not (LOL !).
But, my British friends when we go out
to eat always tell me don't leave anymore
Sabrina.I always like to leave a little
extra and imagine that the waiter could
be my sister or my friend trying hard to
earn a living. Waiters often get
rubbish pay in England way below the minimum wage.
Many of the cabbies are often shocked
when I give them a few dollars
extra. They just aren't used to people
tipping them.

Another big difference is that Sundays
are sacred in England. London is such
a big bustling cosmopolitan city, but
on Sundays everything closes early.
Good luck if you want to see a late
night movie or want to go to a restaurant,
because many restaurants are closed.
Or if you want to buy groceries, you can forget it.
Everything closes by about 5 pm.

British drink way more than Americans
and it's an absolute national past time.
You can see people drinking at all hours
of the day. I can't believe
people start drinking around 12 pm.
I have never liked to drink that early
as it makes me very sleepy and just
useless. Also, The pubs close very early.
They close around 11 pm.And, so called Off Licence
stores stop serving liquor at 11 pm.

The English are very polite often apologizing
for the slightest thing. Even if you are the one to
bump into them they'll apologize to you, " Oh, sorry!"
They are quite nice saying, " thank you and please". S
orry I didn't want to offend. Basically, there politeness
comes from a sensibility to not want to offend
anyone. This is very noble virtue in my eyes.
But, on the other hand there is a lot of beating
around the bush.

For the moment, these are a few of the things
that I can think of that reflect the differences
between America and England. That's all I can think of
for the moment, but trust me there will be alot more
commentary on this matter. In my opinion, the fact that England is
so different from America makes it all the more intriquing
and inspring.

Whats it like to be an American in London

What's it like to be an American in London
So far it's been fun and easy being an American in London.
I have not heard any negative feedback. When you are travelling
and living in youth hostels and hotels, you get a chance to
meet so many different people from all over the world.
In my travels I have befriended people in London that
I have never had a chance to meet in America.
I became friends with a girl from Malta, Azerbijan,
Cyprus, Iraq, Bangledesh, Pakistan.

The common question wherever you go in London is where are you
from? Often when people ask me where I am from I often say with
great glee and pride in my voice, " I am an American."
or depends on my mood, " I say from California."
Never have I been so proud to be an American since
Obama got elected. So, when I tell people this
many people look at me wide-eyed really an American.
When I tell them I am California. They always
say," Wow California." I really want to go there.
Americans and Californians are popular in London.

But once in a while, you get some wanker or tosser,
that's English Slang that bad mouths my America.
Oh he doesn't know who he said that to the wrong
person.One time near a tube station, I got
oh Americans have no culture, no history.
It's the same old story people abroad think
Americans have no history, no culture, nothing to
be proud of. I hear, " Oh it's such a young
country, because it's only 200 years old."
Wait a minute, I tell him. America has culture!
Look at the great Music that has come out of
America. Look at Blues. Hey Blues Movement
has inspired the likes of The Rolling Stones
and Led Zeppelin. Both groups were inspired
and copied the styles of Muddy Waters, John Lee
Hooker. Need I say more. And as far as History
is concerned. Has not America shed blood on its
land for the rights of others. Look at the
Civil Rights Movement.Look at Martin Luther King.
And now look at Barack Obama. Certainly, Martin
Luther King set the stage in the sixties for the
possibility for a black President to be elected.
I don't think we are going backwards.
Obamas election was monumental because it symbolized
the American dream. That dream was not just
heard in America but all over the world.

At Breakfast at my hotel,( I don't go for breakfast
that much because all they serve is eggs, eggs,eggs
with this gross white bread, but I love the diniing
room so sometimes I just go for the tea.)
I met a Danish woman she was pining over going to Italy
and she was saying how much culture Italy
has. Then when I told her I was American
she tells me America doesn't have that much
history compared to Italy. Duh, of course it doesn't.
But comparing Italy to America is impossible.
It can't be done and it's futile and a dumb pursuit to
even try. It's like comparing Rock n Roll
to Opera. Both are wonderful and monumentally inspiring.
But, you can't compare them.You can appreciate
the art forms but they are different so you have
to respect their charms on their own without comparison.

So what if America is only 200 years old.
Just look where we will be 500 years from now.
Now a Black Man President, maybe 50-100 years from
now there will be a Black Woman President.

Americas actions finally speak louder than words.
America stands for freedom, opportunity
and the great dream of liberty, truth and justice for all.

Another thing is I was watching a British TV show
it showed that Americans Health Care system
is rubbish. But, they didn't show that many
people like myself get really good health care
in America. In Berkeley, everytime I needed to
go to the Doctors, I didn't have health
insurance but I would always go for a doctors
visit and just pay $15.
That was it. I am positive there are gaps in American
Health Care system but not everyone suffers in America
from poor health care. I don't, ok so if the BBC News
is reading this you can contact me and Interview me
about the great Health care I have been receiving.

How dare anyone talk shit about my America.
I just tell to Bugger off!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

London When it Snows

Apparently,it has not snowed this hard in London
since 1991. On Sunday night, I met my American friend
Aaron Seibel for dinner.Half way through the appetisers,
we looked out of the panoramic windows and realized
it was snowing very very hard with burst of wind.
A few glasses of wine later we finally left
by then it was still snowing and the ground
was completely covered with snow. We were just
2 blocks from Big Ben so we headed over there
for some really fun photos. It was so much
fun to feel the snowflakes on my face.

Needless to say, it was so cold and I was so lazy
from all the wine, I could not make my way home because
all the tubes were closed. I didn't mind though,
because I got to stay at the Mariott Hotel, my
friend had the deluxe room that is right in front of the
London Eye. The next day, many
people had to cancel work and many of the trains
stopped running.London came to a virtual standstill today after
less than one inch of snow fell before morning rush hour.
Half the Tube lines were severely delayed, traffic was a mess,
and basically 7 million Londoners were running around like
chickens with their heads cut off. Basically, London,
gets very chaotic but even the Taxi Drivers
remarked that people seem to be in a better mood.

As a Californian, I haven't experienced much snow in my life
at all,so I am really enjoying it.
( British Accent:)But, I must take great care,
as to not to slip and fall on snow and make laughing stock
of myself.Falling on my bum would not be dignified at all.

Stay Tuned for more

love, Sabrina

Friday, 26 December 2008

The first leg of my trip: September 26- October 16th, 2008

I am here in London and having a bloody fantastic time!
I have been in London for 1 month now. London is a fabulous, cosmopolitan city rich with history, diverse people and more pubs per square inch.

In my journey, I have enjoyed many different parts of the city. I have met different people. In the beginning of my trip there was Chant for Peace in the Middle East. Followed by a Roshashana party in Shoreditch London. Then, there was shopping for avocadoes in Brixton- a very Caribean part of London. I met a new American friend Bill Inglebright at the SGI (Buddhist Center) in Brixton. He invited me to his lovely home for a traditonal Sunday roast and a stroll along the Thames with his two gorgeous children, Sohaila and Zach. It's amazing how Americans stick together in a foreign country ! I also enjoyed Southwark London where the home of Shakespeare's Globe Theater. What's different from the Brits and the Americans? Alot. I say, same language different culture.

At first, I took the tube everywhere, it's very fast, but by the time you have to go down the stairs, then up the stairs, turn to the left and then go up the stairs and then turn to the right, by the time you've reached the platform, your exhausted and need a pint! Ha! Anyway, a friend suggested to take the bus because it's a great way to see the city plus it's really cheap( 90 pence a ride or an all day pass for £3.50). You can zip around all day on the big Double Decker bus.. (they scare an exhilrating way.. I was think they are going to tilt over..). You can see all the big sights, on these buses. Just riding to my Buddhist Center in Brixton I see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Absolute HEAVEN ! I feel, really at home here in London. This is a Grand and unforgettable Adventure. This week I will be going on more Literary Walks and to see the stomping grounds of the likes of Oscar Wilde,Virgina Woolf and, of course, my fave of faves my Shakespeare.


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