To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Monday, October 20, 2014

I always feel that people matter more than places but some places make you feel that life is worth living. There is more to life than the everyday grind of it. Just looking at the moon above, or feeling the chill in the air, or walking briskly in the lush green park, or exchanging polite smiles in the tube, or chance philosophical conversations with strangers, or warm reactions like ‘brilliant’ for simple actions, or beautiful food packaged to make your senses go into a twist… in short, every day is so full of rich little moments or sensations that you feel alive and happy to be alive. Even solitude takes on a delicious hue when you sit on the bench by the bank of the Thames seeing people mingle around or just pass merrily by…

I wanted to write some sort of blow-by-blow account of my trip to London but it seemed like it would just end up being a ‘technical summary’, so to speak (a friend once said I am not ‘creative’ and it is when I try to capture such experiences that I am most conscious of this lack of creative expression or whatever one might call it).

Many a time I felt a sort moment of truth…not truth exactly, but maybe a moment of tickling? For example, once when I was on the tube (as you can tell, I spent a lot of time on the tube shuttling around ;)), I saw a well-heeled lady perched on those rests that haven’t quite grown to become seats, munching on ‘dried fish’. I actually saw the tail of the fish hanging out of her elegant mouth. I am a fish as well as dried fish eater… but never having seen a dried fish chips-like pack… tickled me :) (we eat fish dunked in gravy and not like a snack, in case you were curious). Another time in the tube, as very often happens in the Mumbai locals, I ran towards a seat, and a lady ran from the opposite end towards the same seat. We each tried to persuade the other to take the seat. If you’re familiar with Mumbai trains, you should know why this would tickle me :)

Walking along the street food markets was lovely. The sights, smells, bustling, crowds… I mean, I could have been in an Indian bazaar except everyone smells nice and talks softly :)

I actually heard someone—outside of novels—say ‘Blimey’, in that sexy British accent! (I didn’t mention the accent before, did I? ;)) I felt so tickled with happiness really! Is that how it sounds? Bllllimey!

Westminster was one of my favourite visits (just remembered: I mistook the entrance of the Houses of Parliament which is across the road for Westminster. They all look so majestic.) Walking beside the resting places of such greats as Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Dryden... I was in tune with a different time altogether. And coming to the practical experience, a phone-like device was given to each of us and you pressed a number on the phone to listen to the commentary at certain numbered spots. It was one tickling feeling for me to see technology used in this ancient space and that too to such marvellous effect. People could loiter where they wished and did not need a guide to shepherd them around. This increased my respect for technology though I can’t say I am a fan of it generally.

Watching the ‘Comedy of Errors’ at the Globe Theatre was exciting. More than the play itself, it was exciting to soak in the atmosphere, be in a stadium-full of Shakespeare fans, many of whom had chosen to stand for two full hours to watch the play! I couldn’t help think about the modern lives of the artistes performing the plays… tickling to think about that lady with lovely golden hair and a tiara travelling by tube like regular mortals?

How can I forget the all-pervasive theme which was never very far from anyone’s mind? Weather! I had read about this creature called the English weather in the books and having only known ‘hot’ or ‘rainy’ as weather that goes on for months with nothing really remarkable about it, could never get to the bottom of this. Now I know. You don’t know whether it will be cold, cool, rainy, sunny, cloudy and what have you till the day in question dawns (incidentally, my online research on what types of clothes to carry at this time of year gave me a hint of how unpredictable the English weather was!).  Someone told me, ‘You seem to have brought along the Mumbai weather with you’. That was the first week. The next week I was on my way to St Paul’s Cathedral and it started raining…by end of the day I had bought myself an umbrella that never left my bag till the end of my trip. If that’s not something to keep you tickled every day, I don’t know what is! :)