Monday, January 11, 2010
Travels through the English Countryside - Part 3
There's a big smile on my face as I write this, because my exam scheduled on Wednesday has just been postponed. In fact, it took quite a number of 'mediated conference calls' with the weather gods for them to make climate in Brighton chilly enough for the University to reschedule exams. They were worried we- the procrastinators - would freeze to death in the under-heated exam hall and more importantly, many of the earlier stated category who waited for the last possible day to return from their breaks, are still stranded in airports across the world..Wonder when Britain will gear up for the snow? So with these thoughts let me take you on the last leg of my journey through the English countryside. So where were we? Yeah, on the way to Dewsbury near Leeds..on Xmas eve...the landscape was totally frozen and the National Express Bus I boarded from Leicester St.Margaret's Station filled with many brown faces...By now, I'm used to this Asianisation of England...So there I was back to the book - each leg of travel was as eagerly awaited as the arrival at the destination... Now Dewsbury is a quaint little town nestled some half hour away from Leeds...So if you are taking a train, Leeds is the easiest point for you. Another Asian dominated hub, with the Yorkshire twang so pronounced that for a week after my return, i was 'u'ing my o's...hmmm..how do I explain that? Think Geoffrey Boycott...yeah, that's a good example of Yorkshire in action!! And another round of graciously overwhelming Indian hosting ensued...This time, by a hardcore career woman turned housewife, who had taken the task to be Super Mom very very seriously...So there she was juggling roles of SuperMooom with being Gracious Host and holding all the balls in the air without dropping it even once!! So on Xmas Day, she entertained 'three' kids - 2 little girls and one kid-at-heart, thoroughly as the British take closing everything down completely - very very seriously...Nothing moves anywhere in the UK - perhaps they preparing for the massive outpouring of mankind into every possible shop and outlet the next day...26th, the Boxing Day...for the SALE...everything that can be tagged is normally on SALE...and I think many wait for Boxing Day to shop for the year ahead...Or so I heard...But my interest in Boxing Day was less for the sale and more for the chance to head to York.... All we could do was a drive through this really really ancient town...but what the heck...when you have the British History concisely reduced to about 600 pages in your hand - even old York shutting down its museums and the York Minster for the holidays, can't dampen the spirits... The first mention of York in the book is about 495 AD when the Saxons came pillaging...'and the sheer weight of numbers of these pagan warriors overwhelmed the indigenous Britons'. Walking around York looking at stones, that have seen centuries of history - bloodshed - there's a chronicling of killing of Jewish moneylenders by English kings, and further uprisings in the book....English kings were such sadists, cruel and debauched..and then there is the meddling of religion in governance... And if the Archbishop of Canterbury is the biggest Christian voice for the Anglicans, then Archbishop of York is as big a person....Maybe a shade his junior, like the CEO and COO of Anglican England, I think....Well, the latest one, apparently is a huge personality, literally too...And that's where he lives...The Bishopthorpe castle. These Anglican head priests, I tell you - being the God's messengers come with some pretty good perks, dont you agree? Well, like my book tells me, the 'thorpe' in the Bishopthorpe suggests a Viking influence...and that means that predates the Normans and the Saxons also... Someday, I'd like to go back and get acquainted with each building personally. That will be good fun, perhaps in the summer this time. The euphoria of seeing a white white countryside is slowly fading as I see Britain come to a complete standstill in the worst winter it has experienced in decades. Let me leave the York tale incomplete for now....and move on...to another quaint little blip on the English Map....from Dewsbury to Uttoxeter...that falls just outside Derby - in Staffordshire. By far, the prettiest countryside to drive through. They say, anywhere you drive through in England, the countryside is alluring. But the drive to Derby or even Birmingham..the nearest big cities will ensure that by the time you reach there, you have a beautiful smile on your face. I guess, the wattage of mine was increased by the spotting of a rainbow, that stretched teasingly before me. I would have liked going to hunt for the pot of gold at the end of it...but we had a movie date in Birmingham...Can you see one end of the rainbow in this picture? Look hard and to the mid portion of the photograph and you should be able to spot it too!!! Ooh, just the last thing...snippet, trivia - whatchumaycallit....Watching a Hindi movie in a multiplex in Birmingham is like being transported to a theatre in Punjab - the ambience, the smells, even the conversations are so authentically 'recreated', I had to pinch myself a couple of times to remind myself that this was England and not India.. I think I shall leave this travellogue unfinished here....Somewhere, this chapter feels half baked...But like a painting that was kept out to dry for too long, somehow it feels like the meat dried up with the juices..Someday, I might dust out some other memories of this trip and let it surface somewhere else...For now, apologies for an incomplete blog...and keep reading!!!