Praveen Kumar is a Bangalore based stand up comedian, whose first love is Biryani and then comes everything else.
I was pleasantly surprised when Rabhinder (the Go-To-Man in evam) called me in Jan and mentioned about the UK tour. The best thing about evam is the master (KK) explores and goes on a tour for the first time and creates a market for the rest of us to follow. KK had finished his UK tour in Nov 2016 and Alex and I went there in April. As far as we knew, everything was “taken care of” by Rabhinder and we (Alex and I) didn’t even go into the finer details. We just knew we are going to do 4 shows and there will be someone to pick us up from the airport. Thats all. We trusted Rabhinder so much.
Alex and I reached London on the 17th April afternoon after a non-stop 11 hours flight and was welcomed by 2 ever smiling and very warm couple – Suresh and Sandhya from Bluefeather Studios and we started talking like we were childhood friends. The instant positive vibes we got from them made us feel really warm in that chilling weather. (BTW I was the only one who was wearing shorts and I didn’t realize why everyone gave an awkward look until I stepped out in the open) We immediately made a LIVE video there announcing the arrival of both of us in that foreign land. Suresh and Sandhya took us for lunch and explained to us the detailed plan for the entire 7 days of our stay there but I was more focused on the Caribbean food – Jerk Chicken fried with buttermilk. What a combo. I know right. Then they dropped us to the Hotel room in Wembley and said what places to see the next 2 days as the first show in Birmingham was on 20th April.
Alex and I relaxed for a while and started walking just to explore the place. It was 8:45 pm and we had sun light. It was really weird for me. I mean I was hungry for dinner but it wasn’t dark. So my stomach was confused and asked my heart to take a decision on its behalf. So my heart is on diet I think so it decided not to have dinner that night. But when we took a walk, we realized that almost all the shops were closed before 9 pm and only few restaurants were open. So we decided to explore again in the morning. Both of us slept really early for UK time but late for Indian time.
Next day morning when I got up, I got a shock of my life, near the foot of my bed, I could just see legs, yes just legs, I wore my glasses, got down the bed and saw Alex upside down and was doing Yoga. After my heart beat became little normal, Alex explained me the benefits of Yoga and I decided to start doing Yoga once I reached India. (Now don’t ask me if I started) Also the benefit of sharing the room with Alex is his beautiful singing. Both our tastes are exactly the same when it comes to Tamil music. So either his laptop will sing or he will sing (better). We got ready and went out for breakfast. Someone told us that Saravana Bhavan was nearby. We were so excited to go there and saw it was closed. Next to it was some Ganga Bhavan and again it was closed. That road had all the Bhavans except Rashtrapathi Bhavan but everything was closed. So we went to an Indian sweet shop and had Poha for breakfast. And we went to Central London in tube and started walking. We walked, walked and walked… My pedometer showed that I walked for 21000 steps that day. We proudly called ourselves The Walkman after that. We walked through the major parts of Central London and shopped, took selfies, saw all tourist places- in short had super fun.
We explored Wembley area and a mall the next day and in the evening Suresh came to pick us up to take us to their house which was about an hour drive from where we stayed. Sandhya had prepared an amazing chicken curry without even tasting. We spoke, spoke and spoke and became very comfortable with each other and Suresh dropped us back to the hotel in the night. Again he had to come the next day morning. They took us to this BBC Asia office for a radio interview in the morning and it was a great experience. Alex sang a Bharatiyar song in BBC radio. A landmark. And we proceeded to Birmingham which was a 2 hour drive from London. Since we got late from the interview, we went directly to the venue which is the Venkateswara Perumal Temple which is supposedly the biggest Hindu temple in Europe. It was a beautiful campus and the show was in the community hall. The set up was good. The audience was good. Special thanks to them for turning up on a weekday. Great show and super response. We couldn’t have asked for a better start for the OY tour.
The next day we drove back to London because the show was in London. Profound. Beautiful theater in the Central London – Greenwood Theater. Close to 200 people. 2 great organisers. 2 lucky performers. All these combined together to make this the most memorable show in the tour. This show also featured a local comic “Kutty Hari” as an opening act. To celebrate the success, we went to an Indian restaurant for biriyani. Surprise. The next 2 days were really hectic. Early morning flight from London to Edinburgh (pronounced as Edinbra). Alex is still wondering what the hell is GH doing in the spelling. I told him “Have patience.. Only if you are patient, you ll know about GH”. Sweet fellow. He laughed at all my stupid jokes. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city and we walked in Royal Mile and had fish and chips. Alex was too eager to find out about the KILT (Skirt like thing the local Scottish people wore) and we bought one in the shop nearby. He actually rehearsed the dance as well with the help of Youtube. So he opened the Edinburg show by wearing the kilt and dancing like the locals. The audience were amused. The venue was again a beautiful one inside a church. Again, a beautiful show with great audience. We got really comfortable with the UK audience and I guess the vice versa was also true.
Again next day early morning flight to Manchester from Edinburgh. The show was in the pub for the first time in the tour. Beautiful venue. Nice audience and again a great show. That was the last show of our tour. We ended the show with mixed feelings. The highlight of our Manchester show was our TRAM journey (my first time) in the city after the show. During the entire tour, I met lot of my friends, my cousins and other family members and it was a great feeling. We returned to London the next day in bullet train. And I had to catch the flight to Bangalore the same evening. Suresh and Sandhya dropped me to the airport, was with me till I went inside for security check. I waved Bye to them with a heavy heart. After all they were just event organizers. No they are my friends. Very good friends. Almost cried to say Bye to them. Hopefully will meet them soon either in India or UK.
Lots of people to thank. First of all KK – for trusting both Alex and me to do a good job in a foreign country. Next Rabhinder- for doing all back end job without any fuss and with full commitment. Next Alex- for being a great company for the entire 7 days and for all the life advice and wonderful songs and most importantly being himself. Last but not the least – Suresh and Sandhya. On my God. This guy Suresh is the most hardworking person I have ever seen. He did photography, drove us around a lot, scanned the tickets of the audience, cleaned the venue after the shows, bought us whatever we wanted, made us feel very comfortable. And Sandhya was the most enthusiastic event organizer I have seen. Her PR skills are too good, went on stage and introduced everybody, gave us inputs for jokes, she was helpful throughout in all possible ways including packing my suitcase. All this when she is carrying twins. Hats off to both of you. See you guys soon.