Monday, January 19, 2009

An Indian In England

London is a place right after my heart. Since childhood I had dreams of going to England to experience the English way of life, specifically in London as I had close relatives living there. I took up English Literature till post graduation as I found British and European art and culture fascinating. However, I felt that an actual visit would be a very good way to “complete” my education and deepen my understanding.

And then suddenly one day I got lucky. I actually won a ticket to England, right after my post graduation and I was off.

When I finally landed at the Heathrow airport after a long but exciting flight, I was greeted by a Fleet cabs driver (which my cousin had sent to fetch me). A typical cockney and garrulous to boot. It was fortunate that I could understand his accent. After 10 minutes of brief introduction, he showed great interest in me as I was from India. He expressed his views on my country too and I was quite appalled to find that Londoners still think of India as a land of elephants and snakes. Before I got off, I promised to send him links of websites with pictures of India and Indian city life as he had requested.

The next day, my aunt handed me a set of guides and maps of London and surrounding areas, and showed me how to get around the city. I realized one thing, that it is impossible to get lost in this city. Each and every street and by lane is clearly labeled and marked. Availability of different types of transport and other facilities are clearly printed on signposts at every corner. It is very easy to go around for sightseeing, especially by tube or the underground trains. And all places are very tourist friendly.

My first visit was to Madam Tussauds, which lived up to the hype it has engendered (though I found Amitabh Bachchan to be a trifle phony due to his very black hair and too white French beard, but Princess Diana and Steven Spielberg could have walked off their pedestals).

Next, the boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich was an experience in itself. The cityscape and country-scape of London floated by, the green expanses of the Greenwich observatory grounds, the sparkling beauty of the lake within, made the vague, learnt by rote term, “Greenwich mean time”, take on a completely new meaning. I stood astride the long strip of metal dividing the earth into the eastern and western hemispheres and hoped I wouldn’t wake up and find that it was all but a dream.

[This is a guest post. The author, Madhurima Gupta, who was a student of English Literature in Jadavpur University, is now working as a successful animator. These are excerpts from email and letter which she wrote during her visit to England.]

2 Comment:

Julia Scissor said...

You should have put the footer at the head. I read the post assuming it was about you.

Julia Scissor said...

And how long back was this? It refers to Londoners thinking of India as the land of snake charmers and elephants. Or maybe the few Londoners are better informed than the cabbie.

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