Monday, 15 October 2007

Cultural shocks and a Royal visit

Continuing with my tradition of enlightening you people on various subjects, here is my latest gyan.

When I first landed here I thought I would be in for a cultural shock and to prepare my self I had undergone a rigorous training. I had spent hours watching Baywatch, FTV and other programmes of the decadent west,so that I am better prepared to face the onslaught on senses.

As it turned out, the training was helpful and I can proudly say that I was not affected by....oh wait a minute..let me check out that thing in red which just walked in to my office....OK where was I?....ah yes I can proudly say that I am unaffected by the various views offered by this country.

If I haven't mentioned before, let me say that the public transport system in London is very good. You have the underground, national rail, bus services.The connectivity and the schedules are so good that I sometime miss good old crowded bus stops, buses with crammed with people, foot board travel of Bangalore.

Also the train journey here makes an interesting study. You get to see people from various nations, dressed in a multitude of colours, speaking colourful languages. Also I have observed that people here do things in trains which we generally do at home back in India...Before you let your imagination run loose, let me clarify...

People eat in trains. I see people eating their meals,breakfast in trains.I dunno whether they are lazy to go home and cook food or they are in a hurry.But eating alone in front of a crowd is not something which I would like to do.

Another thing is ladies applying makeup. They do their make up in trains. From mascara,to creams,glosses, lipsticks, hair etc...they do a complete set of things, which again is not at all common in India. I am sure ladies in India would also try doing it, but the crowds in the bus and the state of our roads deter the bus passes over a pot hole, the person sitting next you would end up with a face full of lipstick or powder or get poked in the eye from hair brush.

Another thing is PDA, which in India is confined to public parks and movie theatres. Its a common thing here. But sometimes, they end up displaying more than just affection.

And in one particular case, I saw a girl, first eating, then making up and finally displaying affection to her boyfriend among other things.

Well I must say I get to see many things in these journeys, which may seem strange, weird or outright offensive. But hey I was conditioned to it, thanks to our cable TV and the world wide web.

Enough of that. I had been to Windsor Castle over the weekend. Windsor castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The British monarchy has been living in this castle for nearly 1000 years. Even now the Queen spends her weekends here. William the Conqueror built it around AD 1070.

Its a huge castle and strategically located to ward off enemy attack. The insides are richly decorated with paintings and sculptures by famous artists from all over the world.These works of art, jewels, weaponry etc displayed here were 'acquired' by various adventurers, Officers of Her Majesty's from various colonies of the kingdom.

The word 'acquired' is a euphemism for 'looted', because basically they looted the occupied regions and sent it to the kingdom. One particular piece is a magnificent tiger head made of solid gold with precious stones for eyes and teeth. This was a part of the throne of Tipu Sultan of Mysore. When he was defeated in Srirangapatna,
the tiger head, along with many other jewels, weaponry were 'acquired' by the British.Its not just from India, but they acquired treasures from all their colonies....

There is an exquisite china collection, paintings from masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein, the royal wedding photographs and paraphernalia (Incidentally, this year is the diamond wedding anniversary of the
Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. They were married on 20th November 1947).

Another important part of the Windsor castle id the St.George's chapel. The chapel was built from the 15th to 16th centuries at the castle in the Perpendicular Gothic style as an expansion and re dedication of the 13th century Chapel of St Edward the Confessor.This is also the chapel of the Order of the Garter.The Most Noble Order of the Garter is a medieval English order of chivalry or knighthood, and the pinnacle of the British honours system. Membership in it is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales and no more than twenty-four members, or Companions; men are known as Knights Companion, women as Ladies Companion.

We also witnessed the famous
'Changing of Guards' ceremony and to be honest I felt that it was nothing but a group of soldiers dressed in fancy uniforms, holding fancy weapons and do a ritual, which in these days has no real significance. The band plays various music pieces during this time and to my surprise it played th Mission Impossible tune too(I felt that if the majority crowd was Indian, they would surely have belted out a 'dholi sajaake rakhna or kajra re').....In earlier days, the ceremony was for the new guard to replace the old guards, who used to protect the monarch and the castle.

It was a very good tour. I spent my hard earned moolah to get in and see all the treasures which they looted..oops sorry 'acquired' from us in the first place. Talk about innovative marketing !!!!!.For the admission price I paid, I thought I would get to meet the Queen herself and have a propah English tea with her. But it was not to be. But seriously it was indeed informative and educational.

I also left with a consolation that I too donated some money for Queen's house :-).
Before leaving here is something to cheer about

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