Thursday, August 18, 2005

As I sit down right now, a huge wheat-cutting machine works away, humming to its own pace, in the English countryside. It really is beautiful, 10 to 9 at night, and not a drop of moonlight. The little towns, Solihull, Lichfield, Stratford, Aston, they look right out of a picture book. The hedges are all even, the cars are all droolworthy, the rubbish is out in the cans, the posies smile at you obediently, gosh it's another world. So, so quiet. None of the madness of Bombay, of India. The noise, the dabbawalas, the fisherwomen, the vendors, the animals, the autos, the cabs, the radio from someone's car, it's mind boggling that we manage to find our solace and our quiet in the middle of all that din. Even London, the big bustling London is far, far quieter and some parts, the posh ones like Chelsea, look like no one actually lives in the houses. It is holiday time yes, and it's quiet because of the blasts yet it's just amazingly decibely low (I know that's not a word). I've taken the tube, the coach (just the bus from London to Birmingham), the train (from Birmingham to Stratford), the red bus, the black metro cabs (Kingfisher is doing some fantastic advertising on the cabs; isn't it 'lovely') and nowhere have I seen such quiet. I know it's odd, you don't see quiet. Do you listen to quiet then? No one speaks to each other. They just sit there and read or look out of the window or sip their coffee....
it's really another world.
That said, I am also amazed at how well they keep their monuments, restore their buldings, preserve their history, and manage to turn all of this into tourism revenue. Stratford on Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace is bustling with people, Chinese, Indians, Arabs, all nationalities, happily paying the £6.75 entry fee. And there are shops and cafes and boat rides, the entire place is just thriving on tourism revenue. It's the same for Westminster Abbey (£8 entry plus £3 for an audio guide or £4 for a human guide) or Buckingham Palace, some 20 quid. But it's fascinating. To see Shakespeare's house or the grave of Geoffrey Chaucer or even the epitaphs, though the graves are not there, for DH Lawrence, and Samuel Johnson and TS Eliot and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). Why can't we do the same? I am sure enough people would want to see the tombs and graves of our kings and leaders and samadhis etc. or our palaces, and our history and our customs? It's really a pity...
Lastly, I can't live abroad. For all its fashion sense and good looking and well turned out people (London really has a vibe) they have a dog's life. No help at home, everything from cooking to cleaning to clothes to kids to dusting to dishes. I get tired just looking at them work. So all those picture perfect houses and manicured lawns don't necessarily have picture perfect lives.

4 Comments:

Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

India has quite a few amazing architectural wonders too (especially placed in the context of the history of algebraic/geometrical skills -- as told, among others, by Peter Bernstein in his book "Against The Odds").

Alas, not too many people in Delhi etc could be bothered to read tomb calligraphy for creative nuances. Aint easy. For some of the startling sleight-o-the-quill stuff (in a manner of speaking), you gotta crane a neck for circular inscriptions on the insides of domes. And, no matter how hard you apply your mind, you could still be left wondering.

18 August, 2005  
Blogger the cowlick said...

They have Kingfisher for the pommies?? Wow!
It is this very quiet which seems relaxing at first that gets on your nerves later.
And, I think any public transport that carries even slightly upper-end people will be quiet, no one talks to each other and buries their noses in their books. If you come lower, travel through low-end subrubs etc, you'll find a certain "colour".
PS: I didn't know you were travelling in Europe! Have a great time!

18 August, 2005  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

Fair point that India neglects its heritage. But honestly, my trip to Stratford-upon-Avon put me off quite badly - the shameless artifice in pandering to tourists (to the extent of putting up a show in the room Shakespeare was supposedly born in, complete with facsimiles of the pots and bedcovers the family used; not to mention Shakespeare's father's workplace - where he made gloves - on the ground floor). It was just too in-your-face, and quite obviously a case of commerce beating out dignity.

18 August, 2005  
Anonymous dont-need-a-weatherman said...

europe aflood. aare river in swizerland burst its banks. bombay like scenes on TV

24 August, 2005  

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