Saturday, July 2

Mind the Gap!

[ This travelogue was written in November 2003, after returning from a trip to London. ]

I am back from london having been busy "minding thegap" on the "tube". It was a fantastic trip in hermajesty's service (serving the london economy thatis). In a place where they eat beans and toast forbreakfast, have puddings with names like "the spotteddick", and where you are constantly being reminded to"mind the gap" and many times even "mind your head!",there was no "way out" of the the compelling andconspicuous British motifs. The famous red telephonebooth, the red post office box, the double deckerbusses and crazy drivers were solemn reminders ofIndia's inheritance from the Raj and the Tikka wrapsand Tiffin box meals were stark signs of how theindians have taken over the Raj. More than anything else, it was the history thatstares you right in the eye when you look everywherearound you, that made the trip so memorable. It wasimpossible not to notice that at any given place inlondon, you could be standing on the very same sitewhere old day legends would have stood and lived.Like the famous Thames walk, the River trip in a boat(which was the normal way for royalty to tour london),the Waterloo bridge where Napolean fought (there wasno bridge then), the London bridge (subject of thefamous nursery rhyme as well as the sight ofdecapitated heads amast on stakes to remind whathappened to traitors to the monarchy in those days),the infamous Tower Hill where the beheadingsthemselves took place, the Tower of London whereMonarchs lived for ages, the beautiful dome of the St.Pauls Cathedral that to this day (for almost 300 yrs)adorns the London sky, Shakespeare's Globe where thelegend himself must have performed for the people, SirChristopher Wrens historic architecture, the infamousLondon Dungeons where Jack the Ripper went to work onhis victims and the plague spread, the Tower bridgeunder which sailors must have passed bidding theirlast fairwells to their families, Westminster Abbeywhere the both the houses of parliament sit, the BigBen and the Royal palaces themselves.And these are just the historic places. They arejuxtaposed within the same skyline with modern wonderssuch as Sir Norman Foster's glassy architecturalconcept buildings, the London Eye (a giant ferriswheel on the banks of the Thames providing spectacularviews of all of London and beyond), the MilleniumDome, the Millenium Bridge, and on and on and on. Thesight seeing never ends.But the trip to London had to "terminate"unfortunately, a lot like the trains in london"terminate" (I found out this was not a perilousending but just the end of railroad!) and we had tosay farewell on our "way out". But we will go backsometime again and I am sure the history of londonwould have been re-written again and again by then.Until then, I will be busy "miding my head".


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