Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I began my travels with the highlands of Scotland – to its capital city, Edinburgh (or Edinburraaahh as the Scottish would say – almost sounds Tam to my untrained ear). Armed with a collection of books including Re-Union by Fred Ulhman - a gift from my dear Italian friend, the Lonely Planet guide to Western Europe - a gift from a precious someone, Mohammed Yunus’ autobiography and of course, a Neruda thrown in for the pure re-reading pleasure, I ventured into the land of Single Malt Whisky and Shortbread.

The train journey to the highlands is a heady mix of beautiful landscapes - cattle, sheep, horses of various colors, ages, sizes, all grazing peacefully in a velvety green sheath, the multi-hued sky, the vast blue sea running alongside immersing one so completely in its menacing, yet calming waves - such peace and tranquility far away from the streaming buzz of London. Waverly station however is quite a contrast - no different from any of the London terminuses, full of activity with the ubiquitous fast food chains all around. Strange how the presence of a McDonalds can give one comfort in a foreign land – comfort of the familiarity of experience in unfamiliar territory.

Edinburgh is a small city, best explored by walking on its streets, discovering little alleys along the way. The architecture stands out amongst all, period buildings with unqiue styling, all in the various hues of brown. Several European cities (especially the historic ones such as Rome, Paris) appear to adopt a common class of color in their architecture making the various structures come together as a homogenous block. One of the most satisfying experience is the climb up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano swept away and held together by a glacier. The rocks are magnificent, beautifully textured and as one climbs up the hill, a breathtaking view of the city emerges – the blue sea along one side and the hills and forts on another with the city lying in between. Read a couple of Neruda lying on a grassy patch at the hill top and found a different meaning in them…interesting how experiences define one's interpretations of art/ poetry.

Managed to sneak into a Van Gogh exhibition on Day 2 and as usual, bought some cheap prints of all the paintings I had a sense of engagement with. Aim is to have massive collection of cheap prints of masterpieces, since can't afford even a rip-off in paint at the moment. Was AWESOME. Some of his works had been loaned to the Scottish National Gallery for a couple of weeks and I was lucky to visit Edinburgh during the weekend of the exhibition. The London National Gallery owns some of the most famous, widely publicized Van Gogh paintings, especially “the sunflowers", the most important of his work. Found out interesting tit bits of Van Gogh’s life including the fact that during the later stages of his life, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, put in an asylum where he eventually cut his own ear and shot himself to death – continuously painting during this time, creating several spectacular masterpeices . You can see the insanity in his paintings during that phase - olive trees swirling in round motions, one can almost see him with the brush and oils, painting furiously, adding color and texture in round circling motions to the flat surfaces. At happier times, he shows orchards, apricot and peach trees in full bloom - in thick white and warm pinkish tones.

A trip to the famous Edinburgh castle (which surprisingly did not sustain too much interest), Holyrood Palace, the Royal Botanical Gardens and a walk along the River Leith followed, most of which was pretty flat - nothing could recapture the magic of the silence and the panoramic view of Arthur’s Seat. Finished Re-Union and re-read parts of Banker to the Poor on the way back – a post on Yunus will follow in sometime.

Next trip- York or mebbe Wales.....plan to do Paris and Spain over September


Deeplydeep said...

I loved edinburgh too....the cobbled streets, the kilts, the yummy short- breads, the ubiqutuous bag piper-player.

It was this lively touristic environment without being too commercial ....Edinburgh gives you space to whatever your interests be.

S said...

I would have loved the walk up the volcano to Arthur's seat...I am so sure of it...dont remember where u had mentioend, but in one of ur posts u said, some love water, some love mountains, snow, etc...and I love mountains...can spend hours sitting in valleys dng nothing and just observing nature...dont have an answer y i love that...just calms me a lot!

Faces among faces

Acrylic (with knives only) on canvas