29. My English Favourite

@Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.

Leeds is my favourite city in England; before I had that opportunity to visit the land, my guess would have been London, Manchester or Liverpool to be my favourites. But for some reasons, or many of them, this was that city which would spend most time in front of my camera, and this was to be that city which I was to prefer the most. The reasons might have been endless, but not all of them what one would expect. I liked the Coat of arms of the city, even if it was quite strange for me after seeing all those emblems with dragons, wyverns, lions, eagles and falcons; I found crowned owls, a hat and a sheep which seemed to be hanging; I failed to make any meaning out of it, but I found the emblem to be a beautiful creation. It was something I could relate with John Donne, George Herbert and the Metaphysical poetry as a whole, an opportunity for the more complicated understanding of objects which are kind of far-fetched images. Those owls with crowns, that hat which looked magical and that sheep; something was there which I could make of it; there was something so hidden in it that I could write a poem out of it in case of the brain working at the right moment.

So many people I knew lived near the city by the end of the tour. My cousin brother already lived nearby and the number of people I knew was raised by a good figure later. Another person whom I knew for a long time, also lived in that area, from the King of the World game in Facebook, a big fan of Leeds United Football Club and Leeds Rhinos Rugby Club; one of the first people I knew through a game application on that social networking site. That was one of the best gaming days online, with the best people from all over the world and this person did play that important role of keeping me glued to the game, as he made an entrance into my side of gaming at the right moment. That was the time when everyone took the game seriously and did wake up late night to start an invasion on the other; it was the time when everybody used to be so determined to have the advantage over the other so that all alliances were broken. As I was making things so complicated, his presence made it more clear and kept me playing the game until I quit it about four or five times, one of them being a mandatory deletion from a cruel Facebook in 2009 with not much of a reason other than an overdose of gaming. But the fact remains that I didn’t really go and see him there; so that episode is left with the game.

I wouldn’t talk about Leeds Rhinos for now; as Rugby is not my thing; if I get into it, that would be like a crocodile talking about Jurassic Park or a dinosaur talking about Lake Placid, both not aware of the other habitat. I wouldn’t talk about the topics which are not mine, which brings me back to cricket, to the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, the home of the most successful team in English cricketing history. Headingley Stadium surely has it’s moments, but Leeds United Football Club was the place to go, as I had to see the first real football stadium which was to bless my eyes. Elland Road, the twelfth largest football stadium in England was my first real football stadium sight even as I never got in and all the view was from the outside only. My only visit inside a football stadium would remain confined to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Cochin even if that was for watching a cricket match. But I guess it would still count as a soccer stadium as Kochi Tuskers Kerala is a team which is no longer valid and the Ranji matches get less attention than the football matches there; cricket has gone back further in Kerala with that incident and now the only thing which remains is to ask the game not to come back again.

From what I understand from visiting the stadium and it’s store, Leeds United is a rising team which is fighting to gain back it’s glory; therefore I am glad to have visited the stadium and some day they will succeed in their aim and I will then proudly say that I visited Elland Road and I knew this was going to happen; I was there, in front of the stadium, near the Centenary Pavilion and the statue. The road to the stadium had wonderful fly-overs and bridges which gave a powerful effect to the road and a gift to the camera. It was a change at a time when every place looked the same for me; the houses with same colour and style and trees which looked a little yellow and mostly green, it was difficult to find the change; it was a big change from home, but once at the place everything was same, but beautiful. It scored by having that beauty everywhere though. By taking photos almost everywhere, I was becoming a Mr.Bean or something close to it; there was no distinction to be made between the modern and the ancient world there; the beauty existed without exceptions. The newer world was just easier to identify, but the older ones had stories to tell; or may be to figure them out.

The Leeds City Museum gives us the history of Leeds, as the museums of the land seemed to impress in quality compared to what we had at home, as the history and literature had a less important role and is still considered inferior. But what still remains like a burning candle in the mind is undoubtedly the Thackray Museum, which is actually a museum of the history of medicine near St James’s Hospital at Leeds. It was such a wonderful beginning to the journey through England. It mostly had much valued information about medicine, but it also took that long look into the history with it. There were questions like “How did bad French wine help start a scientific revolution in medicine?”, “How did foul smells make cities healthier?” with interesting explanations, sometimes written and sometimes shown, followed by more; there were bottles of medicines and the machines used by earlier doctors. But what would hit us the most are the stories; the way in which life in Leeds moved during the early ages, as it was kind of a huge experience for me as it was exactly like being there during those ages when life was different and there was not much good for the common people of the age. No country was always about glory and richness and that fact was lit there in front of me.

It took us through the life of a few characters of that time, just ordinary people who lived in Leeds at a time of pollution and lack of cleanliness, that life in Victorian Leeds: as we walked through a genuine recreation of the slum streets with authentic sights and sounds and that feeling of being gone some place in the past, as if there was a time machine. There were the big rats, fleas and bugs; there was surgery without anaesthesia as we watch an eleven year old Hannah undergoing amputation of her leg after it was crushed in an accident in a mill at a time children were also working in dangerous conditions. Only the Royal Armouries came close to this experience, but it was still just about weapons and not about people. The Leeds Town Hall was an impressive structure too. The Leeds Anglican Parish Church and the Roman Catholic Cathedral were interesting structures, but nothing could recreate the feeling of the Thackray Museum; as it showed that human misery was almost the same everywhere and there is always the chance for improvement of human life, no matter how bad a situation it is. We are indeed lucky to live in this world of luxury and we are to thank the people who are part of our history, as without them, we are nothing near what we are now; because of them we exist and live a good life with less suffering.

Diving out —>

TeNy

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28. Wyverns With Shields

@Carlisle, Cumbria, England.

During the journey from Leeds to Glasgow, there stood the city of Carlisle on an exit. It has a long history, most of it related to a first-century Roman outpost associated with Hadrian’s Wall, the first and more physically evident of the two fortifications built across Great Britain by the Roman Empire as ordered by Emperor Hadrin to keep the non-Romans, the northern tribes of the island out of the Roman occupied part of the island. The wall with no doubt, was the most heavily fortified border in the whole Empire as Rome had major setbacks in that area including the disappearance of Legio Nona Hispana or the Ninth Spanish Legion, which remains a mystery as there was no evidence found. The last clear information was about them helping to rebuild the legionary fortress at York and their disappearance has provided us with Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth which became a movie ‘The Eagle’ in 2011 and also ‘Centurion’ which tells the story from another perspective. Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s novel L’ultima legione was also made into the movie ‘The Last Legion’, and all these added to my viewpoint towards Carlisle as a city of history and mystery blended in a right pattern to invoke curiousity among the people who visit these places with a heart for knowledge.

Hadrian’s Wall might be the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain during their military occupation of the island. As it was not much of a settling down and more fiery invasions like the Anglo-Saxon conquest followed, there was not much of Roman tradition to be left. Even the Antonine Wall was not much to be seen. Rome’s movement towards being a global empire had already started before the Christian era and the eyes were set on the island during the times of Julius Caesar. From the times of Emperor Claudius, when Britain became a Roman province, the need for this wall was there, with so many tribes giving trouble to the disciplined Roman Legions in the north. This was to become worse when Rome faced barbarian attacks in Europe at many frontiers and had to retreat from the island. They left Britain Hadrian’s Wall, not much of a wall considering the development of technology which followed, but a wonderful remnant of the lagacy of the Roman Empire. It did not mark the end or the beginning of any empire, but it kept the Roman area south from the skirmishes from the north which were becoming too frequent to handle.

This World Heritage Site can be seen from many parts of the land, even as one travels through the area. It looks more like a part of nature, something which is built by the forces of nature, as it seemed to combine with the terrain at such a point as if it was grown from the Earth one day. With a few sheeps around, it makes a wonderful scene of nature, something which might inspire a nature poet from within. There are also what remains of the lookout towers and forts which were attached to the wall. The stories relating to the wall never ended; it was also shown in the movie ‘King Arthur’, when Artorius Castus and his cavalry men defend the wall against the Picts, another move towards the Arthurian legend. That movie stood with lot of historic inaccuracies, but Hadrian Wall remained the same in history, no matter how much it changed in physical structure due to the various factors of nature and man. Even after the withdrawal of the imperial Roman Legions and later after so much modernization, the wall still stands with the story of how magnificient it used to be; the saviour of Romans from the northern tribes as well as the helper of trade and commerce.

The 900 year old Carlisle Castle is also situated near the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall in the city. As it lies in the border city of Carlisle and it was such an important point between England and Scotland, it is supposed to have seen lots of wars and had been part of many important events in history. It has been part of England and Scotland until they became the same nation later. Carlisle Castle was first built during the reign of William II of England, the son of th Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror who invaded and completely conquered England in 1066 starting the Norman rule and the influence of French on English literature. Mary, Queen of Scots who tried to claim for the throne of Queen Elizabeth I was also imprisoned in this castle before being tried and executed for treason. The castle was besieged by the Parliamentary forces for eight months during the English Civil War and later during the Jacobite revolutions to bring back James VII of Scotland and James II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne after he was deposed by the Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The castle looks quite simple from a distance, but is a magnificient and well-maintained structure.

Carlisle Cathedral or The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle is a beautiful church located quite close to the castle of Carlisle. It seemed to match with the castle in terms of colour and age, and also that beauty in simplicity. The church which was built during the reign of King Henry I as an Augustinian Priory, and is one of only four Augustinian churches in England to become a Cathedral. From the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the following ages, the church had a less glorious period until it was restored. It had ruined structures around it and also the fallen leaves, those yellow and a little brown ones seeming to give the feeling of some autumn and an upcoming winter. The Carlisle Cathedral described itself as ‘A place of discovery, celebration and beauty’ in the colourful leaflet they gave us; it also contained details of all the prayers which were to take place during Sundays and weekdays; there was some program going to happen, when we reached there too. The map in the leaflet was only slightly helpful as some renovation work was going on in the church. I did feel that the best view was from the outside with the fallen leaves and the stone paved road on the side.

There is the River Eden which runs through the city, but I could not take any more rivers after my visit to Lake District; enough of the water bodies were covered for the day. Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery was located between the Carlisle Cathedral and the castle. Even as I didn’t visit it at all, I was caught by the Coat of arms of Carlisle City Council which was outside the museum. It had the motto “Be Just and Fear Not”. It inspired me and gave me some courage which I lost in the cold there as the temperature had hit a lower point for me then and wind only got stronger with clouds wandering around. There was some time for me to stare at the emblem and it had two dragons or the legendary creatures of wyverns with golden roses on their wings, and a golden shield with a red cross surrounded by red roses and a golden rose inside it. Everything is placed on a gree mount with some small white cross signs on it and shield had a crown which looked like a fortified city; or more of a mural crown of Tyche, the Greek goddess deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city as well as it’s destiny. I was more interested in the dragons and the cross as well as the motto. As I had to wait a lot at that point between the castle and the cathedral with that emblem behind me, I was able to create an image of it not only in the camera, but also in the mind which has lasted even now.

Diving out —>

TeNy

27. When in Chennai

@Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

It is difficult to remember how many times I had been to Chennai, and my first guess would be eleven, most of them didn’t require me there either. About five of those times, the name of the city was Madras though. I almost had another opportunity to go there last month too, but decided against it as it’s been only two or three months since the city last saw me and it would be surely bored by my face. It should surely be bored by my digital camera which had been flashing right from the wonderful railway station to the crowded airport. The Southern city is where Chennai Super Kings thrived, and also the same place where I had to wait for an Air India flight which was getting delayed further; but none of these interested me. There are very few occasions when I did support the Chennai IPL team, but as my favourite teams would be an already terminated new team of Kochi Tuskers Kerala and the other new team of Sahara Pune Warriors which includes Sourav Ganguly, the team was not at all part of my concern during my visit there and that leaves the cricket mind behind with no trace.

The first thing one might notice could be the Trinity Chapel established in 1831 as it is very close to the railway station and near a board saying “Biriyani”. But my first destination was always going to be San Thome Basilica, the grand Neo-Gothic cathedral built on the location where St. Thomas was supposed to be buried. It claims to be one of the three churches to be built on the exact location of apostle graves, the others being St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican and Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The church also has a museum attached to it and the presence of relics has made it a national shrine, a much visited pilgrimage centre. The rest of the pilgrimage would be to St. Thomas Mount, where the apostle is supposed to have martyred. It is close to the Chennai International Airport and it is a beautiful sight from the top of the hill, with a small, but very old church on the top. Wesley English Church and St. Patrick’s Church are also situated on the way towards this place. There was another Wesley church, but it was much older and a lot more beautiful and so was Anderson church, but located on another route which we followed another time.

St. George’s Cathedral was a huge old structure and the Cathedral Church of the Church of South India. With it’s tall church tower and it’s strong and wide pillars, it gives any camera quite some work. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s Church located at Fort St George, is the oldest Anglican church, sometimes known as ‘Westminster Abbey of the East’ couldn’t support that much photography due to it’s location at the old Fort containing Tamil Nadu Assembly and the Secretariat. Both were beautiful structures, the first one bigger and more majestic and the second one older with more stories to tell; there was also St Andrew’s Church, modelled on modelled on St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, London. It might not be any close to it’s base model, but it is beautiful and can be easily seen from the road; it is not something which can go unnoticed, with it’s tall spire and when get closer, we can see it’s huge pillars on the front and it’s shape which is not what we assume from the front. From the front, it looked like a twin brother of St. George’s Cathedral, but when we get inside, it is a completely different structure. These three churches makes a heavy impression in our mind about those ages of splendid architecture.

Annai Velankanni Shrine was the next big thing as told by the taxi driver and he was right. There had to be a shrine to Our lady of Vailankanni somewhere around the city of Chennai and we found it; not exactly a tough discovery as it was a pilgrim centre. The shrine was kind of small compared to the other churches around, but there were so many visitors there and it was quite close to being another Velankanni itself. It is undoubtedly the largest and most popular Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health outside the town of Vailankanni. It was crowded beyond the expected situation. On the way, there was also a church which looked like a temple; one wouldn’t say the difference from some distance. The city was as if filled with churches and temples as there was at least one religious structure wherever I looked. It also had the Armenian church, a simple, but different and wonderful structure. There was some real trouble in finding it, but it was not to be evaded and on the last day, it came into the picture. Here, from the symbols in the church itself, you know that you are witnessing something special.

This time, there was no usual Marina Beach in my list; the long and wide beach with the Vivekananda House facing it and with monuments, statues and memorials around, had lost it’s charm for me just like most of the beaches around; they had become just sands of time; those of death and mortality which takes all creatures in; so is the sea, all the same. The journey also featured my first gurudwara visit even as I was looking for a Jain temple. The auto rickshaw driver didn’t seem to know the difference or didn’t seem to care at all. I do wonder where would he send people if someone asks for directions to a Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist or Zoroastrianist temple. On my book, it surely is a failure not to have found a Jain temple. It is a clear miss after coming so close. Actually, it still proved good as I got to see my second Jain temple at Kolkata and this was the first time I had been even close to a gurudwara. There was that silver lining which was to be present with that particular cloud. It was a great, calm and quiet place even as I was confused. As being confused is a common thing for me, that didn’t really matter though.

Chennai had it’s malls with McDonalds and KFC; the first which I managed to find after such a long time and it made way for many more places; it provided a base for my travel to Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram just like Kanyakumari did for Nagercoil, Padmanabhapuram and Uvari. Even the Coimbatore trip was from there and already for me, the city served as a connection to Kolkata, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It is the city with some of the best-looking old churches and it is the gateway to some of the most wonderful temples of the country. It was very hot at that time with temperature exceeding that of a monsoon affected Kerala by quite a big margin. But there was never enough heat to stop the journey, and that heat would be exceeded by another journey to Kolkata later. We do expect global warming to do the worse and so this was to be handled; worse things were to come, most of them in terms of nature. Just some rise in temperature was to be handled, or what would be awaiting us in those dark days which are to come in the next few years.

Diving out —>

TeNy

26. A City for Gems

@Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka

Ratnapura is exactly what it’s name suggests; the land of gems, the famous gem-mining town of Sri Lanka located about a hundred kilometers from Colombo. As “ratna” means gem and “pura” means city, there is not much doubt about what the city would be, other than being the city of gems. If it was named in Malayalam, the name would have been Ratnapuram, not much different except for the last letter addition. Not very often can you guess what a city is about, just by it’s name; as Ramapuram doesn’t have that much importance as a hallowed place of Sri Rama and Mudickal is not an obliterated place; Kottayam is not situated in a “Kotta” or fort; Ernakulam and Thiruvairanikulam are not ponds and doesn’t have that many “ponds” as it’s name suggests except for the occasional gutters which has started to make them look so; the places ending with “kad” meaning forest are not really dense jungles and those ending with “puzha” or river are not islands in the middle of a water body, and thus the names seems to suit the wrong locations, but it does work with a few places and one of the is surely Ratnapura.

Even as Rapadura is the Portuguese name for a form of sugarcane juice, used as a sweetener, common in Latin American countries and the Caribbean, and as the Portuguese domination had a big influence on the island, the possibility of the name being derived from that word is less; seeing what the city is about, it has to be from the two words meaning gem and city. The place is the centre, the most important industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other sparkling gems. Apart from that, the town is a place of natural beauty and lots of cultivation. Not only fruits and rubber, tea is also grown in this place, even as the place is located kind of lower compared to the other places of tea plantations. Tea itself would be a gem if you would ask me; having tea growing at your town is something to boast about, even as gems will be the thing most people would be looking for. Sri Lanka has the highest density of gem deposits compared to its landmass and Ratnapura has the most of it; the island nation has always been known for it’s gems for centuries; the colonisers always had specific interest in it.

We can say that the town depend on gem trade, the most productive method of earning money and a little on the agricultural industry which is far less profitable which is even lessened by the possibility of floods in the Kalu river. But one has to wonder when profit becomes really what it stands for; as sometimes it is vain. A good number of well-known people have taught, written books and stood for agriculture; still the easier way will always look better for people. The global demand for diamonds, gold and other precious metals hasn’t done anybody any good. It can glitter and it can look good to you, but it will depend on how you view life; as none of the precious metals interested me so far, and it didn’t really mattered how much I tried to make it look extra special to my eyes and how much I kept looking at it with a heavy amount of concentration. It doesn’t mean anything to my aesthetic sense and it fails to invoke any feeling of beauty in my mind and it seems to have a complete lack of soul in it. It seems more and more like the dead man’s metals, the stones of the deceased; the more I look at them, the more dislike I feel about it; to me they are depressing.

I would like to consider Sri Lanka, not thinking about the gems; Ratnapura as the gem land, but not of just those stones which has only that external beauty; for me, it would be that land of spirituality, that land of Buddhism which is not of this unreal world. It would be that land of Ramayana and that land of beautiful churches on the coast. For me, it is the land of that gem of goodness which is valued further more than any random metal or stone; it is the land of humanity; it is the land of truth, wisdom and love where peace has settled down with all it’s might. The true gem is that heart, which is unaltered in it’s quest for truth, peace and non-violence; the true value of a gem is not based on how good it looks and how much it sparkles; it is something which is far beyond this world and long beyond all means of understanding. The price of all these can go up; the gold price can continue and reach the top of the world; but none of these are forever and it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you have to leave all these here; what you take with you is your soul which carries it’s stories.

You can be anybody; from the current situation of the materialistic world, you can be King Midas or you can be Doctor Faustus; achieving both options have never been easier. You can have all the gold in the world or you can have Mephistopheles’ service in return for your soul which would be damned for all eternity with Lucifer, but both options are leading to you to that pandemonium, that hell which has that eternal pain awaiting you. It is the exact place where the unnecessary ambition and desire leads one to. Even in my lands, it is ridiculous to see the attraction towards gold. At least Faustus still had that desire for knowledge and a side inside him which wanted to repent; Midas also understood his mistake, but some people never change. Even after the watch Elizabrth Hurley giving Brendan Fraser those wishes in ‘Bedazzled’, they are still so interested in selling their souls for all that wealth and glory which they can’t even keep after death. At the end of they day, they are dead and they not only split from their precious thing, but also from their body itself which will completely cease to exist.

This is exactly why my only interest while visiting the gem stores of Sri Lanka was to capture the beauty of the lands from the window of that store too. There was also the need for tea; for me the drink had much more value at that time. It was about having my gem of a drink which lived far beyond all nations; the drink which was simple and had a soul. As the gems were to die, tea was to live and Ratnapura for me was my land of tea; Sri Lanka was my island for having great tea. The gems will play their part and will be sold and bought, but tea will be drunk; it is internal and it within you. Here the bottomline is that I was at Ratnapura, and there was tea and spirituality. Gems were there and they might have attracted many, from the West as well as the North, but I was not to be among them. I shall proudly fail to understand the need for gems and gold, according to them; and be extremely happy about it, for it proves that I am different and far away from any possible sin of wordly desire.

Diving out —>

TeNy

25. The End of Days

@Kelaniya, Western Province, Sri Lanka.

It was our last day at Sri Lanka on that Ramayana tour and just like any other final day at any foreign country, it was over so fast. This was immediately after the Colombo city trip which was quicker, and there was also a Hanuman temple to visit on the way which made Kelaniya too far an attraction for a few minutes, but fortunately, the journey speeded up. Kelaniya is actually a small town near Colombo, in the Gampaha District of Sri Lanka; a place which I didn’t check in the maps before I visited. It is blessed by the Kelani river, but the water body does face the same problems as any other in the world, in the developing countries. Even recent tests have indicated that the purity level of the water is diminishing; a comparison to some of the rivers of India would make this situation look okay, but considering the beauty of the river and it’s surroundings as well as the beautiful temple which lies close to it, there is need for a better situation, but still nothing from it did affect our journey as we had to go to Kelaniya and then to the Bandaranaike International Airport.

Before getting further into the best thing, the wonderful temple of Kelaniya, it has to be said that it is another symbol of religious tolerance. It is a Buddhist temple and it might be one of the most sacred Buddhist sites, but it also has a small temple to Vibhishana, the noble and good natured brother of the demon king Ravana of Ramayana, who later became the king of the island of Lanka and he was supposed to have shifted the capital to Kelaniya. Vibhishana still continues to be worshipped by some adherents, mainly in the Kelaniya area as well as the tourists from the north. It is actually a small part of the large temple area. The god-king is depicted with a blue coloured body wearing gold crown with ornaments and as holding a sword in his right hand. He has two teeth protruding when the mouth is closed, which seems to be peeking out like the vampire teeth, but smaller and he certainly is a good-looking god-king according to the picture inside the temple. There are other Hindu deities around and there are beautiful curtains which makes the place look nice even if it is a simple abode for the legendary king.

Moving back to the Buddhist temple, it is a great structure, not the biggest or as imposing as the Temple of the Tooth of Kandy, but still something which is special and something which catches the attention especially as we move towards it. There is a gopuram-like structure on one side and there is a big tree which resembles the Bodhi tree, something which I have noticed near almost all of the Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Both looked significantly old and the only thing which might look older might be the temple itself. The temple coloured dark yellow just like the gopuram was located right on the side of a big white stupa which seemed to compete with the temple in it’s looks. It is said that the Portuguese destroyed all those sculptures and the paintings of antiquity during their conquest of Kelaniya, but still inside that temple, it is a wonderful world awaiting us. We can still see lots of paintings and carvings relating to Sri Buddha and his stories. There is also a quite big golden coloured statue of Lord Buddha lying on the bed. There are also other statues of the Enlightened one as well as a number of incidents related to Buddhism, most of them depicted as paintings which are beautiful, but still kind of simple in nature.

After seeing those paintings on the walls, roofs and everywhere around that wonderful world inside the temple, the huge white stupa structure awaited me. It was just like the same things I had seen all around Sri Lanka, but this one was surely bigger and more captivating and it was surrounded by statues and it matched the sky in colour. This mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics was like the centre of spirituality and the temple seemed to pale in comparison. So many people were praying in front of it with such a devotion which made the retreats look like a common daily prayer. It didn’t lose any of it’s spiritual content even as it was a heavy tourist centre visited by so many people. The temple procession held on the pre-full moon day of the month of January every year is huge and famous thing, but we were not to stay there till then, and there will be other people from all around the world to witness it; and it shall be crowded, there will be so much people around, considering it was already enough crowded during the time we visited; there was still silence and peace, but still taking photos was not easy with so many interruptions in the form of people walking all around.

As it is located 10km east of Colombo in Colombo-Kandy Road and still quite close enough to the airport, it should be a favourite destination of all those tourists who wander around Colombo and Negombo. Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha visited Kelaniya in order to quell a quarrel between two Naga leaders who fought over a priceless throne, and later converted to Buddhism. The sculptures on the outside include those of nagas and apsaras, as well as that of Vibhisana being crowned the king of Lanka by Sri Rama. There are also other Hindu gods and godesses around as the Buddhist flags fly in the yard. The University of Kelaniya is also situated at Kelaniya near the Colombo-Kandy Road and their Faculty of Humanities which provided the courses of Master of Arts in Drama and Theater as well as Linguistics did catch my attention a lot, as it was the first time I saw Literature divided and studied; the same can be said about their Faculty of Social Sciences; it was different and it looked good from the outside, and I would have loved to have studied there for a change, but I am not to be certain about myself or anything.

It was where we had the last Sri Lankan local tea; it was at a small shop in front of the temple and it was found by one of the uncles who had great love for tea; almost the same love I had, as if he also knew that tea was forever and even had a perfect time table for drinking it. It is always good to have tea finders with you; saves you a lot of time to find the right tea shop and the perfect source of tea. It was the cheapest tea I ever had, priced at five Sri Lankan rupees or so, which would be less than three Indian rupees after conversion and it was still good tea, just like being at any tea shop in Sri Lanka. It was also the smallest shop explored there by me, and anything smaller was far beyond my tea radar and also impossible to find when on a journey; but being at bigger shops was preferred by the guide considering it her responsiblity to keep everyone away from stomach upsets. But as it was the last day and the worst thing would only happen after we are left at the airport or inside a flying machine, on that day it was fine. After the temple visit, we also had the opportunity to do a little shopping, but it was kind of low level shopping and I guess it should have stopped with the temple and the tea.

Diving out —>

TeNy

24. The Lake Poet Dream

@Lake District, Cumbria, England.

This was the place, the land of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey as well as many more who followed. It has also been the inspiration for many poets who came there as just visitors and were motivated by it’s beauty. Those poems still floated around the air; what inspired them still lived, and I knew it all the way. But I never knew that it was Lake District until I was half the way through. But what I knew was that it could have been the place where those poets wrote, especially William Wordsworth; it was the place which could inspire the common man, and Wordsworth was far beyond that. It was the beauty of nature which truly deserved to be called so; blessed should be the people who lived there, especially in those years when there was no modern technology around; it would have been a place which would stretch my imaginations beyond all capabilties and even then, it had given my imagination the wings which I had missed; it gave me calmness; it provided me with serenity beyond my usual comprehension, and it lived; it still comes to mind, but those memories are rather painful considering how quickly it was over and how much more time I could have spent there.

Even a few sheep on the roadside seemed to tell me the same thing. They looked at me when I went to them with the camera, along with walking away from the scene; they seemed to tell me that they lived there forever and I have to go back; that beauty will stay for them and will be lost for me forever. Those photos and memories will be less valuable compared to what they will get to enjoy every day. They were the lucky ones, but still they could write no poem; only I could, if I wanted to. But is there anything in the Lake District which is not covered by the Lake Poets? What is there which hasn’t been their bliss of solitude? I seriously doubt that; writing a new poem out there would be that difficult for me considering the fact that the place has been utilized for poetic purposes to it’s maximum. There would surely be unexplored territories and there is no certainty as to what would be the inspiration, those lakes themselves, a group of yellow flowers, a beautiful maiden or a solitary reaper, but still there is a limit to what modern men can do as their minds are affected by their technology in such a way that their creativity and imagination are infected by science.

There was no choice of being at Lake District or not be there, as it was a quick turn on the way to Glasgow from Leeds. It is not to be confused with the turns at home, as it was that perfect an exit as it could get. Thus the journey to Scotland was a little twisted, but truly wonderful, it was what came closest to travelling with nature or through it, that journey which awakens the aesthetic sense from the inside. That sense was surely affected by the desire of some history loving part of the brain to move on and reach the old city of Edinburgh, after a quick look at Glasgow. But literature is still something that wouldn’t give up, as it lived with nature in Lake District; it had no wars, lady love or divine intervention there, it lived with what existed there for a long time and still survives. It was to be my perfect moment with nature, but due to that suddent attack of that history side, it became just one of my moments; it was still a strong one and it’s power was enough to conquer a territory of my mind. It still failed to win it’s battle with history at that moment, but even as it kept losing all those wars in Britain, it still had that advantage in the great course of war which continued, with rather peaceful methods of persuasion.

The lakes were of astonishing magnificience and they formed a force which could not be neglected by the human eyes or the camera. Those mountains, those trees and those lovely flowers which surrounded the lakes gave that feeling of being at paradise. If you ask me if I had made some random visit to Eden, the answer would be no. But I do have my concepts of paradise and this was one of them, or what came the closest to it. I was not of the intention to regain that lost paradise, but what would anyone do when there is an amount of beauty of nature which leaves him senseless? I am not good at interpreting random people, but I would be stunned. But I had less time for that too. I wanted to be in tears, but I was so frozen when that stun effect was combined with nature’s freezing effect and I took whatever photos with my shivering hands. I was lost; I knew my desire to stay there as well as my need to leave; I had a bigger ‘mouth open’ feeling at the York and Liverpool cathedral earlier, but this one was different. It was less for the camera and more for the mind; it was less for history and more for the soul; that part of the body which desired for literature, poetry to be exact. It was that writer’s side which shot up out of nowhere, and it happened in Lake District.

There were boats around for a journey through the lakes, but as Robert Frost already told us through his poems, there were miles to go before I slept; not just kilometers as they counted in miles; that journey was not just about the journey of life, but also about the distance we were to cover on our way to Glasgow. But the nature was as if it was more concerned about the journey of life; it did see so many humans live and die like the mortals which they are, and it might be remembering them all as it is that silent witness which has not much job to do. It has to keep an eye on humans all the time as they are the creatures who destroy it; they are the people of greed and lust; they are the people who invented new scientific methods to destroy nature. As the cruel humans are all set to destroy mother nature, Lake District watches on, with all it’s beauty. But it is there only as long as the nature stays alive, and this is a place which should live forever. But against the beauty of nature, there is always some random human beings; they are the bane on Earth and they are the ambitious ones; the ones who don’t learn history or learn from it; the ones who see beauty as a medium to satisfy their greed and selfishness.

As I hope for the modern satanic monsters to stay away from mother nature, I would once again bring that picture of Lake District into my mind. Those mountains, lakes and trees; those fallen leaves and those rocks; those yellow leaves and colourful flowers; they are the reason there is happiness; they are the reason for the belief in the Garden of Eden; there is paradise and some part of it exists on this Earth. Lake District is one of them. It is a world of nature and it is the cause of joy for many. What a nature poet and a nature poem is; that should be what the soul of this place should be. I had found another world, the best and the true face of nature in Lake District, kind of my parallel universe away from this madness, nonsense and hatred. There was nothing more I could wish for, other than more time there which was not be. It left me with the option of being what William Wordsworth had been; with a heart which fills with pleasure and dances with flowers, leaves and those trees when sitting idle on a couch with a free mind. However it is done and whenever it is done, Lake District lives on, encased in a soul.

Diving out —>

TeNy

23. Tea is Never Enough

@Ramanattukara, Kerala, India.

The journey to Calicut, that trip which happened with quick and ease had a history which covered more distance. The trip’s major portion had a heavy role at Ramanattukara. The significance of tea was still there; to be frank, it was all about tea there too. The legend of tea has unknown origins in my life, as it was sometime during my early school time, when we were travelling and I was told not to drink anything not boiled, to save myself from any possible disease spread through water. On that random day, the legend of the tea had set it’s first step into glory; on that wonderful day, tea had come to my life to stay forever, more than five times a day. Even as I do think that there is caffeine addiction and possiblity of some future problem if I overdo it, tea is life; or may be life of soul. There is no life without it, as it is the source of energy; the right source which you find on Earth. It can be considered as a drink from heaven or the God’s gift to mankind. There is so much about tea that whatever you say about it will pale in comparison. Tea is not just something you can get for Rs.5; it is not something you drink because it is cheap, even if it is one of those reasons you consider.

We have believed in tea all the time which makes us the better people of this world. Tea is the basis of not only the individual glory, but also that of friendship. Best friends are those who have tea together. This theory was proved without doubt at Ramanattukara; there only the location changed as the essence of tea remained the same. Tea is beyond all limitations, those restrictions even of time and place; it has lived to see the seasons change as the world itself undergo a mighty transformation, from a wonderful world with lovely aesthetic sense to a world ruled by mindless science and mechanical routine. But this great drink still remained the same, as coffee became more of a drink of modernity, tea held it’s ground. Tea remained what it always been; the common man’s drink and what lived with him and gave him the right inspiration. The confidence and the inspiration that the tea gives is what the world needs now. Tea provides people with that inner feeling which is beyond any normal drink; it is your guide who believes in you more than anybody; it is a silent listener inside you and it inspires you to that level which is the right stage where you are to be at.

On these worrying times when the price of tea is on the increase as if it is petrol, I would go back to that place called Ramanattukara which was a peaceful place indeed. But what made that place get into this travel blog of mine were those few days of tea. It were the days of too much tea or enough tea considering what your level of ‘tea drinking’ happens to be. In my opinion though, tea is never enough unless some voice from inside tells you to stop. It can vary from five cups a day to nineteen of them, but it is not really enough until the feeling comes. Sometimes, the tea chooses you, and the times when you choose tea is the time when the satisfaction level is low. But at Ramanattukara, it was the tea expert, the master of all tea, the tea’s own Double T who made the tea. He indeed is a perfect tea maker, as certified by me for a week. It is not like Kato of Green Hornet or something, but it was about those cups of tea which exceeded expectations and those were the cups of tea which inspired me to make my own tea; they were not that good though. My lazy methods of making tea was never really digested by the wonderful drink and it remained with a bad taste all the time.

Those were the days of many trips and sitting idle and watching television as if many lives depended on it. But tea stood out; it stayed powerful and with a pilgrim soul which it passed onto it’s drinkers, it moved with the world; it knew what to do and when to intervene, as it was sent to this universe for man. It was encountered on many occasions during various journeys around Ramanattukara, Beypore and Calicut in different tastes and almost all of them were good. The only thing which came close would be porotta. As vegetarianism prevailed in me at that time, there was no chance of going for the non vegetarian things which would try to compete with tea. As the town is located close to Calicut International Airport as well as the Feroke railway station, travelling was to be easy, but our transportation was still a four wheeler which was witness to many more tea parties which took place around. It had also witnessed many more of those parties going on around Central Kerala and when the opportunity came, it was there to witness what happened with tea in the Northern Kerala too.

This was what happened after that visualization of Greece through the history which occured in my mind, and it just got stronger with more time spent at the new place. Tea always accelerates your progress; it gives you he strength to do the right thing without that hesitation which always gets a hold on you. Here, tea accelerated history upto an extent that the next book was ready to be read. England, France, Spain, Russia, Norway, Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire were all ready and there was such an aggression in the reading process that everything increased at a pace which gave more spare time. Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Leonidas and Alexander the Great made way for Nepolean, Isabella, Charlmagne and Barbarossa within no time. It was guided by tea, as the influence of the drink made those kingdoms and empires work in a way which was a better thing for me. It was the time when tea also went through history and upto an extent, through literature. Although the latter was less physically present at that moment, it was slowly getting connected as days passed. By the end of the time there, the stage was set for the next level of history and a heavy dose of literature which could follow soon.

Drinking tea is not actually the need of tea, it is your own need. People die, but tea will live forever; it will continue to make people feel that wonderful taste which is far more superior than any other drink. The fact is that the other drinks are just inferior things which carve for undeserved attention; they are the parasites of your body and soul; they give you nothing but some temporary relief from thirst. While all those drinks remain mindless creatures, tea remains the master of souls; it is whatever is left righteous in this world; as we know that there is not much left good or enough goodness left in this universe. Tea is the solution to most of the problems; but people need to drink it and remain free of sin. The fact is that tea unites people; it is that source of friendship which grows in you; it is the sign of brotherhood. There is no hatred in the world of tea; it gives you better inner peace than Kungfu Panda ever had, as long as you believe. From those days at Ramattukara, my belief in tea increased in level; it widened the scope of tea and it was a clear upgrade which didn’t cost much.

Diving out —>

TeNy