Saturday, July 13, 2013

The English Expedition - London and Cambridge

One can find the flag of the United Kingdom on almost every building in London. I could think of various reasons - like it symbolizes their pride or it showcases the "unity" of the United Kingdom or they are insecure about the fact that the people might not recognize all those buildings as a part of the United Kingdom or may be they just happened to have a surplus of printed flags - but could not come to a conclusion on it. Not a very important question, though! And, seriously, no offense meant to anyone. I would only like to write about the beautiful feeling that this country injects into us. 
I happened to visit the United Kingdom, mainly London and Cambridge, over the last week. I know that people have talked about the beauty of London a lot and I would just be passing over redundant information. But, I can't resist myself from writing about all those pictures stuck throughout my brain. 
I sometimes feel that the people from India feel more comfortable being here, not because it is developed or is free of most of the diseases engulfing India (it might not be!), but because people here do not question your decision. You are not answerable to the "society" for what you do and what not! You have the freedom of choice. Then again, people aren't a part of that big a society as in India. I guess, if you need to be a part of the society, you'd have to respect it's feelings more than yours. Once more, I have deviated from the beauty of London and that, again, is a personal feeling and no offense was meant to anyone.
The trip was part of a summer school to Microsoft, Cambridge; one of the benefits you enjoy being a part of a renowned institution. I reached London at around 9 in the evening and met my friend after four years. Strange that there was no drama in the meet and things seemed to be the way they were four years before. As he was busy the next day, I happened to continue the errand of touring London on my own. It all started with a visit to the Greenwich Meridian. I am not sure if it is worth something to feel about, but when you are standing on both sides of the Meridian, with your legs defining east and west, you feel the conqueror! On a more serious note, it was a great experience to visit what, just, used to be a part of our Geography books. Atop a hill, there was beauty in all the directions you could see. They have taken care as to maintain the tourist spots, unlike most of the city. Most of it, actually, feels like India (in a good way, of course). The climate suited a tour through London.
After wiling about an hour at Greenwich, I reached the National Gallery. As they say, "the best things in the world are free!" It is truly a paradise for art lovers (this was the first of its sort that I had seen); and the entry was free! One could awe contemplating the paintings on display there. Right in front of it is Trafalgar Square. This is where the plot of the film - DDLJ starts. It is a war memorial where many events are organized these days.
Later, I walked over to the British Museum. It is surprising that most of the tourist spots in London are a stone's throw away. Also surprising but digestible, is the collection of artifacts at the British Museum. Dedicated to human history, it has, apparently, the largest and the most comprehensive collection of works ranging geographically from east to west. It, again, is as awesome as described. Consisting of some of the world's priceless works, it is a major attraction in London. A visit to London is incomplete without a visit to the British Museum.
I, then, decided to pay the Queen a visit and walked over to the Buckingham Palace. Another structure of beauty surrounded by parks and people. I sat around enjoying the beauty of the palace alongside the cool breeze flowing that evening. Before retiring for the day, I decided to have a look at the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. They were, again, structures of marvel. Apart from all these, I also happened to like the buses and taxies operating there. They had a touch of authenticity in them, which was very pleasant.
The next day, I continued my journey to Cambridge, not before trying to enter Platform 9 3/4. My colleague joined me on my trip and we set out for the summer school. Cambridge is as much beautiful and perhaps, even more authentic. Old buildings add to the beauty of the place, which is like a huge university itself. There are colleges all over the town. The river Cam, from which it derives its name, flows quietly through the town enhancing its beauty to the fullest. There is not much to see apart from these colleges and the riverside attractions (not to forget the punt). We visited The Eagle pub, where the discoverers of DNA were frequent visitors, hoping to get some ideas of that sort. But then, it was not in a single visit that they had gotten the idea. Nevertheless, the journey to Cambridge was fruitful and enjoyable. We came back to London over the weekend to enjoy some of its other attractions.
My friend from Leicester had decided to join me for another tour of London. It gives you extreme happiness to see someone you know, especially an old friend, in a foreign land. We went over to the London eye, clicked pictures, spoke about stuffs that happened in the past four years and the ones that were happening, and relaxed a bit. Life seems really wonderful with friends and family always around you. The highlight of the day was the dinner at Vasanta Bhavan. Indian food is always welcome. The Indian diaspora had a strange feeling of being at home.
The next day we went over to Madame Tussauds to check out the wax statues and have some photos taken in some weird fashion. It is another awesome place to be at, when in London. After spending quite some time there, we went over to the "London" bridge. Another piece of splendid construction that marked the beauty of London. With only some time left before our departures, we came back to King's cross to appreciate the beauty of the station. We bade, each other, adieu and continued our journeys back.
On the way back from London via Paris (don't worry, you're next!) to Saarbruecken, strange thoughts kept clouding my mind. And the urge to go back home (India, obviously) was at the peak. Anyways, I enjoyed the trip to London a lot and would like to visit it once more to appreciate its beauty some more. "If you are tired of London, you are tired of life." I am not sure who said this, I just happened to hear/read it somewhere, but it most definitely is true. More than that, I enjoyed meeting my friends there and spending time with them. As everyone says, life needs to be enjoyed to its fullest. And, I just did a part of it in London.