Work-wise, mid-March to mid-May is a little crazy for me—my department works on all days without a break during this period. Though my colleagues and I (and our families) are used to the punishing work schedule, it does get a little stressful at times. And that’s the cue to take a break, even if it is for a short while. We have our different ways of de-stressing. I do it by taking a little walk, talking to a friend on the phone, reading something funny, going through my digital photograph collection …
Earlier today, when work and deadlines loomed and threatened to overwhelm me, I decided to take a break by taking a walk. A virtual walk. A virtual walk in Regent’s Park, London—one of my favourite places in the world. Regent’s Park is one of the Royal Parks in London and has over 100 acres for outdoor sports activities. Located in Central London, the Regent’s Park is over 400 acres in size and includes the world-famous Queen Mary’s Gardens. The official website claims that the Gardens have 400 varieties of roses, as well as a collection of delphiniums and begonias.
During my year in London (2008-2009), it was a place that I walked in, relaxed in, picnicked in … It was a place that gave me refuge when studies or homesickness overwhelmed me. It was, in many ways, my own personal space in spite of being a public park, something that wasn’t too difficult considering I lived opposite the Park ! I have such a connection with the Park, that even thousands of miles away in Mumbai, it is not too difficult to do a virtual walk whenever I feel like, especially when I have photographs of Regent’s Park. One of my favourite sets of photos is of of the roses at the Queen Mary’s Gardens 🙂
The flight that got me to London for a year-long stay there in September 2008 from Mumbai was a historic flight. It was one of the first 10 flights to land in the (then) new Terminal 5 of London’s Heathrow International Airport. Once we had cleared immigration, we found a welcoming committee who were there to well, welcome the passengers, and answer any questions that we may have. So when one of the committee members beamed at me and asked if he could help me with any questions that I may have, I asked him very earnestly:
Do you think it will snow in London this season?
I don’t think the poor guy expected to be asked this question. He gaped at me and stammered out something about the fickle English weather, climate change and global warming in one confusing reply and sent me on my way.
I wasn’t about to give up so easily and in the first few weeks after my arrival, I badgered everyone with this question—from the cab driver who drove me to my hostel from the airport to the cleaning crew in my hostel to the canteen staff to the scholarships advisor to my teachers to the supermarket employees to my classmates to my flatmates to… You get the picture, na?
The reason I was so keen on getting an answer to my question was because I had never experienced snow before and my stay in London offered the best possible opportunity to experience it or so I thought. Since was I impatient to get a definite answer to fulfilling my experience, I didn’t spare anybody. What I didn’t know or understand then was the vagaries of the famous English weather, and that it was quite impossible to give an answer to my “simple” question.
One morning, on an exceptionally clear October day of 2008, I was walking in Regent’s Park in London. It was along a path that I had not taken before and I was busy taking in all the new sights. Suddenly, an intriguing glint of gold in the distance caught my eye, and I walked in that direction to further explore the source.
The glint had come the dome of the Regent’s Mosque, a dome that was not actually golden, but had coppery and bronze hues. The way the mosque dome sparkled in the morning sun was unbelievable, and with autumnal colours all around, it was a sight that I can never forget.
As I stood there clicking photographs, a family passed me by wishing me “Eid Mubarak”, and then another family and then some more. It was then that I realised that it was Eid-ul-Fitr or Ramadan Id that day.
Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated in the Indian sub-continent on August 31 (the rest of the world will celebrate it a day early), and I take this occasion to wish all my readers Eid Mubarak 🙂
One morning in early November, about 2 years back, I decided to go for a walk. At that time, I was living in London. I didn’t have to go too far as Regent’s Park was next door to where I was staying.
I took my camera with me as I intended to photograph some of the beautiful trees in the park, particularly those trees, which had exposed a stunningly symmetrical structure after shedding all their leaves (see photo on the left).
After a leisurely stroll through the Park, I arrived at the place where I had noticed these trees. There was no one else nearby, save an elderly man who was well wrapped up against the cold. As I overtook him, I murmured a “Good Morning” to which I received a acknowledging nod.
I moved towards the trees and was soon clicking away. After a few minutes, I sensed someone close by watching me. I turned around to see that the elderly man, I had just greeted, had walked up to see what I was photographing.
He asked me gruffly, “Young lady, why are you photographing that tree? It’s bare !”