It's that grim time of year; busy airports, long queues at immigration (including the celebrated 'Fast Track'), signs everywhere cautioning you not to be rude to staff (how very rude to have those signs in the first place!), long waits at baggage carousels at a crummy airport, lousy aircon, trains full of jostling, reeking tourists, lines for taxis - this is London, in other words. Never, ever admit you are spending your summer vacs in the capital city of GB. It's terribly naff to do so. For one, the 'Arab Mile', that is, Mayfair has more Indians than the Kumbh Mela and while there's nothing lovelier than a familiar Indian face, sometimes you just don't want to see the very people you see at flash places in Delhi or Mumbai.Along with with their ayahs. If at all in London and dare you admit it, stick to Knightsbridge with its well-mannered cafes and restaurants, its
discreet, (and expensive) design stores, the antique shops, the art galleries, the chic bars, (minus fat, balding men accompanied by statuesque East European blonde women half their age - a Mayfair staple, if ever there was one), the cool Kings Road. If anyone asks you where you've been, say the Cortauld Institute of Art, not Tramps. Tell them you shop at Peter Jones and not at Arabs, sorry, Harrods, same thing. Instead, tell everyone you were in Morocco. Morocco, with its fabulous hospitality, its sophisticated party vibe, the souks, the architecture, the food and the sensuality. Or Madrid with its jaw-dropping museum mile consisting of the Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia. Tell them how you fell sick after eating at the garden restaurant of the Ritz, Madrid, a terribly chic place to upchuck-much chicer than Oxford Street or 'Lishter' Square. Tell them about the groovy Marais in Paris or the dreamy Prague or the blazing 18-hour sunlight of Stockholm. Even Bangkok will resolutely do with its inventive food, nightlife and manic shopping, (Jim Thompson, hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!). Say you went to Rio, to Sao Paulo, to SA. Admit all this, and you will be a unique thing, a rara avis. And finally, never, ever tell anyone that you went for a drink to the Audley Pub on Mount Street, London. For that alone, will cast you out forever.
The writer is a communications consultant, and a keen observer of social mores in his free time