Monday, January 05, 2009
Whenever there has been total chaos I have been drawn there. As if led on a string that’s been pulled in. The last time was right after 9/11, I remember. Something leading one to the worn stone, the serenity, the “removed from this world” pace at the Prince of Wales (POWales) Museum.
I take the local train, second class. The girl sitting by has a letter from the Economic Offences Wing, someone has taken away their power of attorney and taken a loan on their flat. The girl sitting opposite commutes for an hour and half all 365 days, or something close to it- she’s a cook at four homes. Nothing like a train trip to shake me out of my ivory tower existence in a hurry.
Yes, you can take photos at the POWales but that’s 200 bucks. Steep. No, you can’t step on the lawn or take a closer look at the handsome man chiseled in black granite, Prince George V- not after the 1993 bombings.
Security’s been tightened, there are CCTVs, but later I see that the “backside” as we so comfortably call it, is open.
I loiter. I am drawn, as I knew I’d be, to the Indian sculpture gallery, the displays from Taxila and Mirpur-khas in particular, mostly 2-5 C AD. I spend an hour there, easily. I find what I’m looking for.
The rest of the time there passes in a blur, I do look at some fine art, paintings on India through the centuries, durbars and common man alike, work that’s been loaned from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; as also a display of maps on India starting from the 1490’s. I’m amused to see I look for the home town in all the maps, see that tiny dot on that map from 1740? Yes, we’re there, thank you.
And I gape at the coin collection, chunky in gold and silver with perfectly proportioned motifs, apparently Emperor Akbar had appointed his chief calligrapher the head of his mint…
After all this, the mad melee at Westend where I dutifully stop by to pick up a purse, that passes like a breeze. No streetside bargaining this once.