73. Memoirs of the Soul

@Ringway, Greater Manchester, England.


There are a few moments when one can’t be sure what he wants to share. Sometimes it is just a fragment of a memory, and there are times when it contains a photo which is a significant captured moment; what both of these successfully accomplish is the creation of a reflection which brings back the past from the grave, and create a moment of joy in a world in which there is nothing much to be happy about; for the present moments of the lack of happiness needs these drops of awesomeness which were incredibly effective even if short-lived. As one shall never trust the future by himself, the long lost joys are to be brought back through writings, and this short writing shall bring my mind of sorrow and fruitlessness to that little past, which was a twin delight, both in an intellectual as well as spiritual manner. There shall be no prizes in guessing the destination, and there can be nothing for those who can guess the weather conditions at that moment of the beginning of happiness. What one can be assured of, is the absence of the elements of inferno and purgatorio, as well as the creepy, disturbing elements who suck up the happiness and the beauty of eternity out of us, in a beautiful world declared round by a few. But I shall make no promises, as these are the ages of the unfaithful, when the promises are expected to broken and thrown down the Empire State Building or the Petronas Towers.

It was a dark day when I arrived at the Manchester Airport, the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom after London Heathrow and London Gatwick, as well as the twenty first busiest airport in Europem supposed to have dealt with around seventeen million passengers during the year which I travelled there, and has been on the increase – seems like the total number of passengers had been on the decrease until I set my foot there, and the statistics started getting better; forgive that package of nonsense, even as the facts seem to notice that lesser number of passengers, and the reason should be something I shall never know. I had to face strange question on my arrival about the possibility of me not going back to India, but I would let a crocodile eat my bundle of surprise which evaded me, for may be I looked like a man who shall never leave the land of English literature. Manchester Airport is still the largest outside the London region, a thing which I didn’t know at that time, and that was something which could have made me happier when I set my little finger on the ground. The airport can claim more than double the passenger compared to its next non-London counterpart, and the busiest outside South East England, another fact which evaded me at that time. Well, I was surely not prepared for facts at that time, on my first visit outside Asia, which was triggered more by sudden cancelling of a trip to Jerusalem, just like that visit to Singapore and Malaysia due to a failed trip to the United States.

The trip was supposed to start and end at Ringway, but it had to take a turn and end at London, Heathrow to be exact. But what came between didn’t change at all. From the beginning, it was a dark day as I said before, still not a day of the vampires even if I was not in any way less interested in them as I am now – it was a cloudy day and quite cold with rain waiting for that particular signal from the non-existent Thor or Zeus. By the time, the thirteenth step was taken outside the airport, the rain had started its procedure of welcoming someone who was new to that landmass – island to be exact. Well, isn’t the rain the same everywhere? I wouldn’t agree more, but with the background and the environment of awesome glory which surrounded my world of a thousand fairy tales, that was quite a varied thing. With an incredibly cooler atmosphere compared to what I had experienced before in a natural environment, the arrival of rain was something special at that time. It made that impact which nothing else could have done – for that was an initiation into a new world, as if all the figures of literature had made a decision to come together and affect the climate in such a way as to give a new experience of taking me in. There would be questions if I could do complete justice to them as an English literature student, and that is a question which would have no single, perfect, righteous answer that is undisputed.

Consider the photo posted with this blog; it is a photo which I thought I would never be able to click again – something which is proved right so far, but it is not a sight which I wouldn’t be completely deprived of. Well, the double-decker bus did come to Cochin and so did the dark clouds at the right moment with divinity creeping out from the inside – but never was such a photo clicked again, as the right moment never arrived here. But on the way to Leeds from Ringway, that moment did arrive. What is to be noticed is that the whole journey was full of such wonderful moments, some of them clearly taken into both heart and the brain as well as into the camera with both hands, and some of them missed and thought about for a long time keeping that imagery in the mind as if they were part of the soul. The photo is the symbol of whatever was gained and all that was missed during that wonderful journey through the land of literature and history; no surely not of the land of modernity, as I had clearly avoided those modern elements which made zero impact on my world. I would still make a long list of the things I missed and grieve over them, as I could have achieved near-perfection during that journey, but I didn’t. But, never in the history of my journeys was that journey a failure, for it had done a lot for my soul, just like that trip to Ceylon, for you learn when you travel, and by travelling to the Jerusalem or Rome of English Literature, what can a student of the same do, but be enlightened?

The route of the journey was from Ringway, to Leeds, then to Wakefield, York, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Bradford, Castleford, Walsingham, Carlisle, Lake District etc followed by Caterbury, Rochester, Dover and London. The Northern journey included Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc. The journey was clearly unplanned and without a clear tour map in mind or hand for the whole month. There were smaller trips being made, from here to there and from somewhere to the middle of nowhere, but all that could be made with the help of google maps and GPS was done. The best achievement of the trip was surely the visit to the Mecca of English Literature (just what I consider to be so) The Cantebury Cathedral – for that work of Geoffrey Chaucer, our own literary hero. But what interested me more was the Yorkminster Cathedral, as my favourite structure of that journey. The third in the list is the Liverpool Cathedral, these three making the triology of wonder complete. If one has to talk beyond the man-made structures, the Lake District created such a world of magnificience beyond doubt, and so did every journey through those areas outside the city – for the villages were truly what those poets talked about, for they followed the Lakes. Never did I think that I would agree to what William Wordsworth and Robert Frost had written; there were times when I thought they lied; but after the journey, I am sure that there can be no men who are more honest.

In Scotland, the Scott Monument caught my attention quicker than anything else. But I am not impressed by anything more than how much I was influenced by the Glasgow Necropolis; a place where one can’t stop oneself from desiring to be buried right there. The Glasgow Cathedral is smaller, but still glorious, and the same can be said about the Edinburgh Cathedral. The latter is surrounded by such beautiful structures of which I find myself out of words to speak, may be due to a failed memory which can’t cash into that moment of glory. Back to the South, the city of Carlisle was a moment of its own. The cities of London, Canterbury and York kept me in the world of awesomeness throughout. Leeds was special, and talking about each city fills me with a desire to go back there and finish what I had started at that time. I am more prepared and the idea which was introduced into my mind during that visit has grown up and has become a huge tree right now, and there is a plan which has come put of nowhere. There shall be a clear picture of what I am to visit the next time, all of those destinations clearly related to both literature and history. When I am back, I shall be stronger in intellect, and with a perfect idea with which to navigate through a world which I have already explored with books of history, fiction and cultural studies, and my path to take can be never more clear in both reason and faith.

Diving out —>


59. Two Sides of Beauty

@Anglo-Scottish border, Cumbria, England.

The first question which is a question and is worthy enough to be called a question, about the Anglo-Scottish border would be the choice of being at this side or the other. It is not that much of a controversial question which makes one think so many times until being engulfed by nightmares as if it is Indo-Pak or Isreal-Palestine border. But here, it would be just as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe becoming a Scott in the Pierce Brosnan starrer from being a man from York. This would be just that much of different. Even the Indo-Pak thingy would be historically more of a lesser question considering the roots and not the present. The borders are never that much of a reality; it is just that creation of humanity for their security against their brethren about whom they have bad doubts due to their regionalism which they exaggerate using the term “nationalism” and that fake patriotism which would lead them to support sports team. Coming back to this particular border, it is the same United Kingdom on both sides, and it is that beautiful whichever side you are on. It is like the two sides of inspiration; on one side, it is the skylark and on the other side, it is the nightingale; here you see the beauty of Britian and on the other side also you see the same.

Therefore, casting that view through that area on this Southern side which inspired those poets of nature and committed that act of inception into Wordsworth, Coleridge and the rest of the team with a Lake Poet subconscious thingy and the unconscious of beauty, consisting of that Lake District and that Carlisle which was that border town which always deserved its title to be a gateway. There I was at this side of the border, the English side, moments before I was at that other side. At this time when months have passed after that Lake District, Kirkpatrick-Fleming and Carlisle write-up, the shades are alive and they live through every point of that road not taken, those which diverged in the woods for Robert Frost, and that road which diverged from Jerusalem, Amman and Cairo for me, from the religious and spiritual capital to the literature capital; to that aesthetic head which had no mere architectural beauty, but also that beauty of nature which created that effect of that edible thing they named sandwich, as on that special area I used to be, neither here nor there but still everywhere by intellect’s wraith like ability, for that was the time when Jerusalem took the backseat; even Rome would have backed away for Canterbury and York.

Thos mountains, or hills which were visible from that side; they would have been the holders of the Celtic secrets of the past; those motorways twisting all around them as if a serpent or a lost hair of that great Gorgon sister Medusa herself; the roads getting split into many as if to show that sign of a road not taken, as each road taken had lead to so many being not taken. When one is going at that high a speed, it wouldn’t be easy to see all of those until they are lost in that micro second; just like those trees, mostly green and a few of them yellow and of similar shades which claimed the attention of a semi-photographer with not that awesome a camera. There were the big trucks, but none of them reminded of the movie Joy Ride; not because of the New England setting of the movie, but also due to the absence of anything Gothic or horror related in that world of heavy Romanticism. Most of the cars were still faster; one has to wonder if they were guided by the love for nature creating that need to be there in the woods to answer the call of nature or just because there’s miles to go before they sleep and that barbaric world of no aesthetic sense had just infected their minds.

There was no scarcity of innocent creatures though; the sheep were many, but there were no lambs. Those witnessed were on this side of the border and so I would not think about them having anything of the Scottish side; a few of them raised their heads and looked up and the a few others walked away; there were the other proud ones who could not stop themselves from continuing that process of feeding themselves. The need for food brings that courage even to the most innocent creatures of Earth. Some of them didn’t even mind crossing the road of death for that. Blake would have been proud of the creatures of innocence which could stand on their feet, but what about Pan? The fauns and satyrs would be of less importance too. Their courage and wisdom would have to take a backseat. That Pan of Arcadia would need something extra from Athena or may be store a little more of what he get in those horns. May be he could get into a few of those intelligent sheep and learn that lesson which the animals learn the hard way rather than going to those universities. He could be fit and he could survive, considering the possible presence of powerful divine wine.

Lake District and then Carlisle on one side and Kirkpatrick-Fleming on the other side were the quickest ones to enter the camera and leaving only very less amount of time between them as if each of them wanted to be in the electronic device faster than the other. It was inspiration on the other side up north, even before reaching that monument made for Sir Walter Scott, and that was King Robert The Bruce’s Cave which was that spider inspiration for me. It was where that Bruce, the man who wasn’t depicted that greatly in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart took refuge during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Edward I might have been that much of a fiery figure for him, but he really choose such a cave or what resembled it, that would have been so difficult to reach even for Christopher Nolan’s much improved Dark Knight. But he still managed to see that spider which was weaving the web with so much difficulty and trying again and again without accepting defeat, and got that inspired and won the Battle of Bannockburn and the rest was history. For my journey, the other side of the journey can be attributed to this historic person, and not to anything which might seem more important for any materialistic soul who awaited a raven to say “nevermore”.

The Lake District which was beyond the border to the south would be without the need for any description, as that fame which the Lake Poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey might have brought to the area can be considered that immense. What inspired so many good men of great talent cannot be described that easily, but as a whole it has to be more known than any other place. If it is to be summarized in a shorter way, it can be considered a synonym for beauty, or whatever lies as the opposite of all those bad and evil things. As Carlisle lies near enough to the Lakes and that close to the border and hosts the Carlisle Lake District Airport, I had to consider them together; with the great Carlisle Cathedral and Castle which were spectators to some of the big events in history, being at the border of two kingdoms. With the Roman origins tracing to the beginning of Hadrian’s Wall, there is no scarcity of history and there is no absence of beauty at any moment. Each and every time one thinks about border, there is no stopping the mind to be at this border, on both sides in a small interval of time. When Keats said “”A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” in his Endymion and “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” in his Ode on a Grecian Urn, there is no doubt which part of the world made him say it.

Diving out —>