Archive for July, 2008
I like London, and my reglar litmus-test question is: Would I be able to live here? Yes, I could. It was my first time in London where I was able to get a glimpse of the city, besides just flying in, rushing to a meeting and flying out again. So I found a likening in strolling around the town and getting a sense of the strong flair which this city expels – no doubt. But friends of slowness, beware, this might not be the place for you. My mantra in work is speed-speed-speed, but when it comes to having a good time, then it’s definitely not.
Example: On Friday we had dinner in one of the most praised Japanese restaurants, Nobu. You call them up for a reservation, and before you can speak to someone, an automatic voice let’s you know that if you want to reserve for a table within one month, please hang up. All booked out. You get through and a friendly person takes the reservation for some day far in the future with the clear message that your slot is between 7 to 9 pm, before your table has to be cleared for the next shift. One day before salvation day, Nobu calls you in order to remind you of your reservation as well as the 2 hour slot-policy.
You arrive in time and get greeted by four very pretty ladies in black skirts, out of which one will escort you to your table (obviously looks is a criteria to get that job :-). You haven’t sat down properly, your waiter presents the menu shortly after which he takes the order. The dishes and drinks in the course of the evening will be brought by six different waiters. Precise just in time-production. You have hardly finished your plate, a helping hand from behind will remove it, and 2 minutes later the new course lands in from of you on you. So are the drinks which get refilled constantly and so on. The dishes are fantastic and the service is immaculate, both in terms of courtesy and efficiency. And just in time, at 8.56 pm we stood up from our table and left. Mission accomplished.
However, that’s exactly the point. I love perfectionism, and I was really in awe about the service-processes which function like a Swiss clockwork as well as the quality management for the courteous service. But, and that’s my decisive “but”, what is a rare delight if it happens with a mobile phone operator, tends to become awkward in hospitality. This kind of over-engineering in processes tends to carve out the very soul of what is supposed to be a romantic, relaxed dinner in a hospitable place. So my take on this: If you are looking for “Gemütlichkeit”, London might not be the right place for you; you better go to Munich or Croatia. But at least, no complains, one knows what to expect, so it comes as a bit of a “take it or leave it”-deal.
All in all, I enjoyed London, a highlight was certainly our trip to Wimbledon on Saturday where we got tickets for the area from my friend Christian (“Der Aal”). The atmosphere is truly stunning and one can feel the history of the world’s most important tournament. Likewise, yesterday evening I watched the epic history of Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer in the men’s final which ended at 9.16 pm local time in the 5th set with 9:7!
Old England, I’ll be back. And not to forget metioning: God save the Queen.
Although I've come quit a bit around, I have never really seen London properly. I've been there twice during my time at Lycos in 2000/2001, but only two days out of which most of the time I had spent in meetings or in my hotel room. So I am even more delighted to get to see London this weekend "just for fun", especially as I have a "guide" who has been born and brought up there.
What's cool, too, my good old friend Christian from Bangalore (nom de guerre "Der Aal") had been able to organize us some tickets for Wimbledon on Saturday, to get into the compound at least, and get a glimpse on the athmosphere. Apparently there is also the opportunity to spend a fortune on the traditional glass of champagne with strawberries. Let's see … Really looking forward to visit Europe's most diverse metropolitan.