Poet, Author, Editor, Creative Writing Consultant

Saturday, August 10, 2013

An Indian in London

I have this dream of visiting London with my family. It is not that I have not travelled, but somehow London has, so far, escaped my radar. So this is one place that I really wish to go to for my next holiday.

Why London, one may ask, for isn’t it just another prominent city and just another capital of a country? What does it have to offer that other cities don’t?  It is definitely not off the beaten track, being a city that almost anyone with a vestige of a colonial hangover would want to visit.

Maybe I have that, the colonial hangover, can’t say, but London it has to be. What drives me to wish to go to London now…well, let’s see.

My first English Reader made me read about a Jack instead of a Ram “Run, Jack, run,” it went,  and then, “Can Jack run?” The Nursery Rhymes I learnt went something like this, “ Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water…”

I crossed hands with a friend to go round and round during the lunch break to sing, ”Ringa-ringa roses, a pocket full of posies…” of course, in those days I said something like ‘poses’ instead of posies and never for once wondered what that might mean! It was enough to go round and round with our school skirts flying behind us and sing of roses and poses.

And I sang also of how London Bridge was falling down. There was no song that I sung about the bridge over the River Hooghly, though I stayed in Kolkata at the time.

So of course, the fascination for Jack and Jill, English roses and the London Bridge began very early in my life. I am sure I will look at the people in London on my trip there and perhaps say hello to several Jacks and Jills. I shall look at the London Bridge and feel happy to see that it has not yet fallen despite my loud song about it.

As an afterthought, I also read Jack and the Beanstalk as a fairy tale, so that is yet another Jack to explore in London.

Then what happened in my reading life? I began to read Enid Blyton’s stories, and she was definitely a Londoner. I plan to  visit her home in East Dulwich and revisit my memories of Noddy, the Five Find Outers and Dog, Mallory Towers and so many other books that she filled my childhood days with.

I then progressed to read the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes. So naturally I would go to the famous address in London, 221b Baker Street. This it seems, is now a museum, the interior having been created from the stories. I will look at Holmes’ hat, magnifying glass, violin, phials and his famous pipe and imagine him standing right there next to me.

P. G. Wodehouse created a fictitious world around the real London of the 1930s. He filled my reading days with charm and laughter. I would love to take the ‘"What Ho Jeeves!" The London of P.G. Wodehouse walk” and relive the days of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves.

It was during my teenage years that I read T.S. Eliot’s poem where the lines on the yellow fog (of London, where else?) have stayed with me:

“The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening…”

―T.S. Eliot , The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Without a doubt, T.S. Eliot, though born an American, considered himself much of an Englishman for he took British citizenship in 1927. So the fascination with all things English is not limited to people like me of the British colonized countries alone.

The Tower of London is also on my list of visits. I saw the movie Anne of a Thousand Days and fell in love with Genevieve Bujold’s portrayal of Anne Boleyn.

I also became fascinated by the history of the Tudors. ‘The ghost of Anne Boleyn, beheaded in 1536 for treason against Henry VIII, allegedly haunts the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, where she is buried, and has been said to walk around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm.’  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London) Wow. Now that’s something.

Then there is Shakespeare. So the Globe Theatre in London warrants a visit. So much to see and do in London.

I am a touristy type of person too, so of course I shall go to the Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, and admire the Big Ben.

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London, England. It is something contemporary and excites my interest. So you can be assured that I am not only going on a nostalgic trip here.

And finally, I and my family will enjoy a bracing walk along the River Thames and follow it with  a warm drink in a Riverside pub somewhere along the way.

I remember the bat-winged lizard birds,

The Age of Ice and the mammoth herds,

And the giant tigers that stalked them down

Through Regent’s Park into Camden Town.

Rudyard Kipling, The River’s Tale, 1911, (on the Thames)

I may, with my family, even laze in the sun a while, as is commonly done in Hyde Park.

This holiday would be full of fun, adventure and history, and also bring to life so much I have read and dreamt about. It would be a dream holiday, and my family, which is equally besotted by London and all that it has to offer, will have the time of its life when we holiday there.

I am a writer and a street-side photographer, so I cannot help myself. On my visit, I would write on what I see, click images, and take back memories of a city that I have only read about for a long time now.

 So London, here I come.


 This blogpost is written for the #HappyTravellers Contest  of http://www.yatra.com 


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