3. My Canterbury Tales

@Canterbury, Kent, England.

If you take Italy out of the list, this has always been the first thing on my long list of places to visit; to go to Canterbury, visit the Grand Cathedral which is not only the most important cathedral of the whole Anglican communion, but also the place of great historical importance, a destination for every History and English Literature student. It is the holy place which witnessed the brutal murder of Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury, the Arch Bishop of that time. It is like, I had a dream; it was to visit the Canterbury cathedral; now my dreams have lost it’s soul as the dream came true last year even if it was not a perfect visit.

I have been waiting for this moment ever since I had a look at the greatest work of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English Literature himself. Even as the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket was destroyed by Henry VIII, we can see that position clearly marked by a candle; that thing of wax which brings to us the memory of that theme of a wonderful work which we would never see as it is gone forever. There is still the Canterbury Cathedral; staying with it’s head held high even as bigger cathedrals have been built in England and all over the world. Whatever may happen, this is the place which will never fade.

Canterbury had everything for the historic city I imagined; it had those small roads which passed right under the medieval towers, the river Stour and the houses on it’s banks which looked dazzling in those rains and the Marlowe Theatre which was being renovated at that time; the last one reminded me of where I stood. It was where the man who wrote Dr. Faustus, The Jew of Malta and The Massacre of Paris was born. It was a hallowed place for every English Literature enthusiast. No, I didn’t really remove my shoes in reverence; I am just mentioning that this was that place.

It was the land of the contemporary of William Shakespeare, the man who might have been even a better known person if he lived longer. But for some reason, I was so lost in my sight of the Canterbury cathedral, the river side and my desire to get to London as soon as possible. The schedule had suddenly gone busy and my time at the historic city was limited. I bought a small souvenir, but it was never enough to remember the wonderful city or it’s Grand cathedral. The many photos still bring those memories back to me; what I should have visited taking many days, instead lasted only a few hours.

There was small welcome note, which was smaller than that of Carlisle and York cathedrals and a post card which didn’t look that big enough, but I have to say that the cover was good. They gave it in a stylish cover which had the symbol of the cathedral and it’s address. May be I should have bought more covers; may be the cover was not to be sold alone; who knows, but it was a missed opportunity; I should have done better than that there. It was the time they called the Canterbury festival and it was just before Halloween, but I never really halted my eyes on the festival, but my camera reminded me about it later to bring some pain. The great city of Canterbury deserved more attention from me.

To be honest, no city in the island nation other than Leeds got the deserved justice from me. My camera got most of what it wanted, even the history lover; but not the Literature enthusiast. Canterbury was just the city which deserved it the most. It is not that the soul of Thomas Beckett, Christopher Marlowe or Geoffrey Chaucer are going to come down and question me about it, but still there is a wound which hurts; it won’t heal by itself; there is no wolverine power which can heal it and there is no vampire which can suck everything out of it; the thing is forever. Canterbury is a city I visited and it is both my gain and my loss. It is a memory which makes me happy and sad at the same time. As I shall get into Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in detail, it is my source of inspiration which will lead me through. It is the cathedral which will power me, those memories shall guide me. It will remind me that I am the captain of my soul and the master of my fate.

Diving out —>

TeNy

2. Around the Serene Hills

@Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka.

My trip to Sri Lanka was not anywhere near a planned journey. It was nothing more than a co-incidence. This lovely place, once the capital of ancient Sri Lanka was not even a priority for me. But after I reached Kandy from Colombo Airport, situation changed. It was a wonderful hill town, not that developed and not too cold; it was scenic, it was lovely enough to inspire a poem and it was certainly religious.

As some people would know, Kandy has played a very important role in the history of this island nation. It was the last capital of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka and Kingdom of Kandy was one of the most powerful monarchies around. It has many old buildings around and serves as the largest city and capital of the Central Province. The district is also named the same.

The presence of the Temple of the Tooth, one of the most valuable relics of Lord Buddha makes this town a spiritual experience too. The Temple is a simple, but still wonderful looking building attached to the Royal Palace. The sanctuary is considered very much hallowed and there are restrictions on photography in some places. It is always flooded with tourists and they charge more for people from non-SAARC nations.

As we go out, we can see Buddhist pagodas around as well as their religious flag coloured Blue, Yellow, Red, White & Orange. It was a great sight to see those flags flying around as if to spread kindness, peace, compassion, purity, wisdom and all those virtues which the humanity has been clearly lacking in the last few decades. The Sri Lankan flags were also present, but the Buddhist flags stayed in my sight too much to let anything else catch my vision.

The random uncles of Kerala who were also on the tour didn’t look that impressed; they seemed to be unable to wait till they find a Ramayana site. It was quite late and so it wasn’t a bad idea, but I have to say that the peace and quiet of The Temple of the Tooth was something which was absent in any worship place I had visited until then. It was as if the place has always been hallowed, with blessings all around. It was like we could feel the goodness around there.

Kandy, the centre of Sri Lanka, with it’s wonderful people and a strong faith on the Enlightened one provided me with an experience which still lives strong in my heart despite of all the tours which followed. The beautiful lake at it’s centre and the stories behind it added to the awesomeness of the place. If I was given a choice to live anywhere in any of the SAARC nations, I would surely choose Kandy.

Diving out —>

TeNy