Sunday, 29 April 2007

(Ruin)ed Weekend

My romance with history is ongoing, and luckily the husband 'ain't' feeling left out. This weekend it was the ruins at the Nunhead cemetery and some prized possessions at the British library.
However, it was food first. We met a few friends in a little chinese joint, where I got to eat the best crispy fried pork, after threatening to gulp down a cup of chinese whiskey (thinking it was authentic chinese wine). While the shocked waiter made frantic attempts to dissuade me, I heared Ro mumble about how he couldn't carry me back. So harmless chinese tea it was! And after a relaxed meal, we were off to the British Library.

Our reasons for going there were different (as always). Ro was interested in an exhibition of sacred texts, while I wanted to peek into Samuel Taylor Coleridge's notebook. However, both exhibitions proved to be interesting. First we were led into a dimly lit room with some ethereal music in the background. Amidst yawns and droopy eyelids (thanks to our heavy meal), we covered most of what was displayed.

The focus of the exhibition was on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the religions that shaped much of European history. So we found texts relevant to each of the three religions. The Lisbon Bible that testifies to the rich cultural life of the Portuguese jews, a greek copy of the New Testament, a royal Quran that is huge and magificent with its beautiful calligraphy, the Dead Sea scroll on papyrus or animal skin, a piece of the Psalms that dates back to 50AD, an early codex of the Torah which is atleast 1000 years old, the earliest complete New Testament which is one of three surviving copies, a fourth century manuscript from an egyptian monastry, the early Bible in syriac, a Bible in Slavonic, one of the earliest Qurans, teeny Qurans used as amulets, Sultan Baybar's Quran, the four Gospels in Armenian and Arabic, and the Ethiopian Gospels were just some of the numerous texts that were displayed. The exhibition also displayed models of the three houses of prayer, and three bridal outfits. Interestingly, the muslim bridal outfit displayed was worn by Jemina Khan during her wedding to Imran Khan.

From there we moved to the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, where they'd displayed recently acquired Coleridge-related documents. I felt let down. Except for a notebook with his scribbled thoughts, the other notebooks and letters belonged to his nephew. Since he mentions his more popular uncle, I pressume they warrant space in the library. However, this Gallery proved to have to most fascinating collection. It houses some sacred texts, maps, early printing, literary, historical, scientific, and musical works. I also got a peek at the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bibe, Mozart's musical notes, Beethovan's tuning fork, music scores and manuscripts belonging to the Beatles. There were also some interesting letters, such as one by Queen Elizabeth 1 agreeing to the possibility of marriage and another written to Henry the VIII. We also got to turn the pages to a Da Vinci notebook (the man sure was ahead of his time), and another by William Blake (bad handwriting)! I particularly enjoyed Shakespeare's first folio of works, a handwritten copy of the history of the world by Jane Austen, and the first, written version of Alice's Adventures Underground. Lewis Caroll who wrote the story for a little girl (named Alice) he befriended, sure did have a neat handwriting. Seeing the written works of some people i've read and studied only made them more real. I was exhausted, but thrilled.

After a peek at some ancient texts and notebooks, today we explored an ancient cemetery.

Supposedly one of the seven greatest Victorian cemeteries, the Nunhead cemetery now lies in ruins. It contains monuments erected in the memory of prominent citizens of the time. Sadly what remains now, are the remnants of an era long forgotten. We didn't get a tour, so we merely explored, while reading the inscriptions on the various graves. As I walked, I wondered about entire families that had been buried under one tombstone. Some graves belonged to children who lived in the 1800s. While a majority lay hidden under plants, some graves had accompanying angels that seemed to be missing parts. Peaceful and calm, though mysterious, the place is reminiscent of a Victorian era gone by. A lot of war heroes have also been buried here, and interestingly, several muslim burials have taken place in this cemetery as well. Talk about communal harmony eh!

Friday, 27 April 2007

A Nation of Hypocrites?

We got to London days before Shilpa Shetty's controversial Big Brother win. From being a fairly unknown Bollywood actress, she had graduated into an Indian icon, and we were amused. I wasn't particularly sympahetic, despite being an Indian with zero tolerance for bullying of any sort. However, India's reaction to how she was treated during the show had us amused. Were we as tolerant as we wanted the Brits to be?

I went to college in Pune, and the setting couldn't have been more cosmopolitan. We were a class of 100 odd, with students from all over, on either side of a huge fence. On one side were us madrasis (irrespective of which southern state we belonged to, unless ofcourse you were Bangalorean) and on the other side were the northies (usually the Delhi-ites). The maharashtrians and bengalis fell on either of the two sides depending on who their friends were. But the madrasi and the northie rarely became friends.
We were labeled conservative (luckily the accents weren't "teasable") and tame. Our parties were mild and if we missed class, it was because we'd overslept after reading a book late into the night. The northie thought he was cooler, because he walked in late nursing a hangover, wearing clothes from the previous night. We (who were conscientious students as far as attendance was concerned) merely sniggered and whispered, "Gosh, what a loser." We both were guilty of nursing prejudices that weren't necessarily true. The madrasi (assumed to be smarter) wasn't always dedicated and goody goody, and the northie wasn't always a well-dressed duh! Well yeah, we were giving eachother labels, so why were we offended when Shilpa Shetty was called "The Indian" or "Shilpa Pappadam?"

These prejudices aren't merely regional or an embarassment of the past. Even today I know of brahmins who refuse even water in a christian's house. A neighbour who walked in cautiously a while ago, exclaimed, "For a Christian, you have a clean house." I'm always amused at what she thought she'd find in our house. Walls painted with goat's blood, and a cow's head for a show piece perhaps?!

To Shilpa's advantage, the controversy worked to her advantage. She won herself a lot of money, huge opportunities, and truck loads of fans. While she was being called graceful and an epitomy of Indian culture, Jade Goody was being terrorized. Magazines sold like hot cakes, carrying stories of how she was scared to leave behind some unfinished chicken tikka masala, for fear of being labeled anti-Indian. They also carried stories from Shilpa's two-timing ex. Akshay Kumar sure didn't see this coming.

For a while, Shilpa continued to inhabit the papers before giving way to more popular Brit gossip (Prince William-Kate Middleton split blah blah). Then she reappeared again after Richard Gere reportedly kissed her in public. The arrest warrant in her name had me in splits. It seemed like we were a nation of prudes who were living in denial. Sure we weren't used to public displays of affection, but did not seeing something openly mean that it didn't exist atall? Why were those adorning the cloaks of morality focusing on a harmless kiss, while being tolerant towards panchayats in villages where a daughter-in-law is forced to divorce her husband after being raped by her father-in-law? Tales of rape, extra-marital affairs, and crimes of passion find small corners in the newspaper, and soon they are forgotten. However, when Shilpa Shetty gets kissed in public, the nation is outraged.

Amidst all these chaos, Shilpa Shetty seems to be shifting base to London. The Metro proudly announced her decision to buy a house and start a chain of restaurants in England. That is probably good news for the desis. Let's just hope the food is good and the prices affordable. I do however hope that she finds a better name than "The Shilpa Shetty Dinning Hall."
Ro suggests "Badi Behen."
What do you think?

Monday, 23 April 2007

Star Sightings

Ro and I are movie crazy, but not star crazy. We discuss directorial technique, scripts, and acting, but rarely engage in movie star gossip. We have our favorites ofcourse, but we'd never be caught stalking or even gushing (publicly) at them. We fall in the category of people who stand at the distance laughing at those who do throw themselves at actors. We are different!
Like many Londoners, we got to Central London today, so we could take part in the St George's Day celebrations at Trafalger Square. The patron Saint of England, St George was a brave Roman who protested against all forms of torture that the Christians had endured. His emblem, a red cross on white, was adopted by Richard, the Lion Heart, who brought it to England.

Preparations for this day (April 23rd) began weeks ago when brands began marketing the day via contests. Even I took part in one, where I had to write about someone I considered my hero. Since the person being written about had to be in London, Ro became the privileged subject. I didn't win the grand prize, but the postman brought me a small recipe book with meat recipes. A consolation prize perhaps!

We got to Trafalger Square in time for the comedies that were being screened on a huge monitor. We saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which had us in splits and many on their toes every time the funny songs came on. However, before we got to Trafalgar Square, we wandered into a gathering of excitable people. We snaked our way in, and voila...We found Tobey Mcguire

Kirsten Dunst! They were at the London Premiere of Spider Man 3. I was ecstatic, and I shamelessly gushed about how cute Tobey Mcguire (who was making futile attempts at looking older with his stubble) looked. Nevertheless, we tore ourselves away from the crowd to go watch Monty Python. After the movie we strolled back casually with some flavored yogurt (I can't believe it isn't icecream) and did the unimaginable.

We waited with a few crazy fans, outside the theatre, for another glimpse of the actors. I slowly inched forward and soon i was right in front. (Ro says I remind him of Monica...erm..from Friends). We waited amidst singing (Spider man Spider man by Ro), some chanting (Spidey Spidey by a crazy fan) and carefully positioned cameras. I stooped lower when I rummaged through the contents of my handbag to find paper on which Tobey Mcguire could sign. After tirelessly waiting in the cold, we found out that the actors had left long ago after gulping down a few drinks.
*sheepish grin*
So much for my strategies on how to get to the front row, just so I could shakes hands with Tobey Mcguire.

The rantings of a house wife

The frustrating ordeal of finding a job continues (Patience aint one of my traits). Each day begins with me applying for more and more jobs I know I deserve. I had the experience, and the distant memory of topping one inconsequential Instructional Design test. I assumed my rather impressive resume (modesty aint one of my traits either) and wah wahs from managers in the past, all of whom seemed heartbroken when I resigned, would do the rest. Sadly, the mobile tucked away in my apron while I experimented in the kitchen didn't come alive. The few times it did, I switched off the gas, ran into a quieter room (to get away from the loud music that blares from the television) and answered with an "oh-so-professional" tone.
Call 1: Wrong Number
Call 2: A friend asking about a recipe
Call 3: The husband asking if a specific bill has come.
Call 4: Parents wondering why I'm not online.

On the bright side my culinary experiments have been successful, and i've begun to enjoy what once sounded like a trecherous ordeal (blame it on wives who spent a lifetime in the kitchen). I make something new each day, and tell myself that maybe one day I'll be as good a chef as I was an ID. I've also been catching up on a lot of reading, thanks to all the time I have. I hop across to the library and carry back heavy books that i hope to finish in a month. For those looking for new reads, i recommend:


If you like stories that span generations, you might enjoy them. While Wild Swans is a true life account of three generations of women in communist China, The House of the Spirits is another one of Allende's fictional tales that she spins so cleverly.
On a totally unrelated note, why was Abhishek Bacchan dressed like a Mughal emperor for his wedding?!

Thursday, 12 April 2007

The Namesake

Our reasons for watching Mira Nair's The Namesake were different. Tabu was R's incentive for sitting through a three-hour long movie. I was merely curious about the film, because I'd loved the book. As always i was sceptical, because I prefer books to their movie versions anyday.

When I first read the book, I understood it, because it was so Bengali. The familiar terms and phrases got me reminiscing about my Calcutta days. That is probably what I loved about the movie as well; listening to a language i could still comprehend.
Then it was the characters. As much as I loved Ashok, Ashima, and the relationship they shared, this time I could relate to Ashima a wee bit more. Ashima's move to the US reminded me of mine to the UK. From hot, humid Chennai, I was transported to cold, snowy London. In this new place, I (like Ashima) learned to travel on the tube, use the gas, drink from the tap directly (unheard off in Chennai), and deal with the extreme cold.
Luckily R and I knew eachother, unlike Ashok and Ashima. Yet that didn't make their relationship any less endearing. They bonded over a period of time, and started life together in a place far away from home and family.
The film (the book) is about relationships, though much of it focuses on a cultural gap that exists between the couple and their children. Gogol, their older son, named after Ashok's favorite author, is the quintessential American, who lives life on his own terms. He loves his parents, but he doesn't necessarily always understand his mother's need to see him more often than she does.
Ashok and Ashima however, are rather progressive, given their background in India. Gogol's relationship with an American isn't frowned upon as much as Gogol's reluctance to come home. Like most parents, they merely want their children to be happy, and in touch with them. Otherwise they harbor no expectations.
A definite must-see, if you haven't read the book. I'll still urge you to read the book, rather than see the movie. Tabu and Irfan Khan (remember Maqbool) are predictably great as Ashima and Ashok. Kal Penn as Gogol is pretty decent, though I'd have preferred..erm..Abhishek Bachchan maybe? The supporting cast of Zuleika Robinson, Jacinda Barrett, and Sahira Nair among others (Jhumpa Lahiri in a small role as well) complete the story.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A fine balance between hope and despair

It's been over five years since i first chanced upon this book in Pune, at the British library. I brought it back, and in no time it was my favorite book. Since then i've bought Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance" as a present for several friends, and recomended it to many more. So I insisted R get the tickets when I found an ad in the Metro for discounted tickets.
I was sceptical. How could someone transform a book about people and relationships into a two and a half hour long play? Was that enough time for an audience to love Om and empathize with Dina? Would the audience understand Shankar, fear the monkey man's insanity, and understand what the emergency did to many?
The stage was simple, except for the foreboding poster of Indira Gandhi on the wall. The stage consisted of a raised platform, space beneath it, and in front of it, where the characters spoke their lines. The only other props were two sewing machines, some material, two chairs, and a stool on which Om, Ishwar, and Dina sat. The cast of 7, (most of whom played several parts) were brilliant.
The stage was divided and lit up according to the scenes. The play begins in the tailor colony where Dina picks her tailors. The front portion of the stage is then used as Dina's room, where she houses the tailors, Om and Ishwar. In the next scene, it is transformed into a slum, where slum dwellers such as the monkey man, hair collector, and Shankar the begger live.
Relationships were built and understood during the course of several conversations between the characters. You understood Dina's desperate need for independance from her overbearing brother. You see her fear of losing her tailors to the more successful Mrs Mehta, for whom she is delivering tailored goods. In this desperation, you eventually see her warming up to the tailors, Om and Ishwar. While Om is still bitter about the life he has left behind, and the better future he doesn't yet have, Ishwar goes through life with one aim; getting Om married.
The characters are lovable and real. They open your eyes to a world that is alien yet very real. You sense humanity in the beggar master, the tragedy in the monkey man, and the lunacy in the hair collector. These characters are real! Yet, the biggest reality proves to be the Emergency, that changes all these lives.
Well acted, well scripted and well directed, the play brought the book back to life. It had its fun times and tragedies, but finally it proved that life is a fine balance between hope and despair!
Read the book if you haven't already!

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Stratford-Upon Avon - Shakespeare Country (Part II)

After Oxford, there was a short halt for lunch, where I tucked in some yummy Shepherd's Pie in a local English pub. An hour later, we were on our way to Stratford-Upon Avon, where literary genius William Shakespeare was born. However, our first halt was at a house that belonged to Anne Hathaway, the playwright and poet's wife.

According to legend has it, Anne was 26 and Shakespeare 19, when they were married. In keeping with the times, William used to visit Anne at her house. In those days, men dated women in their homes. This arrangement satisfied overly protective parents, who feared the prospect of sending out their daughters with young men. In the house, the couple was ensured privacy from the scrutiny of protective parents, and it was also considered safe. However, to ensure that nothing much happened on these dates (apart from conversation), the men were given wood to carve spoons out of. It's from this custom that the term "spooning" was born. The garden at the cottage was blooming!
After a few pictures, we were on our way again.In Stratford, our first stop here, was Shakespeare's family home, where he was born. Fairly comfortable, inside we got a peek into the life of a middle class family living in the town. The tapestries, the furniture, his father's work room (where he made gloves), the childrens room, the kitchen, and finally the birthing room made up the house. In the house, we got to see artifacts from the time, such as a chair in his room, toys that the children time played with, old keys, broken crockery, a crude key, and the most interesting part; a window pane.
The window pane was particularly interesting because many famous legends had inscribed their names on it. While Thomas Carlyle's signature was clear and legible, we couldn't quite decipher Sir Walter Scott's scribble. The house had also been visited by a host of other literary geniuses such as Keats and Dickens.
Guess who else I found in the house?
A bust of Rabindranath Tagore who translated some Shakespearean sonnets.
You will find a street performer dressed as Shakespeare outside the house. There are other more dramatic performers, who spew words of love to unsuspecting tourists.

Adjoining the house is a store, where we managed to buy ourselves a mug with Shakespearean insults and a tee shirt. As we still had an hour to kill, we decided to find the church where the legend was buried.
Getting around wasn't very difficult, as Stradford Upon Avon consists of just one main road that houses numerous shops and restaurants. As you walk further you approach the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, that is currently showing King Lear. If we had more time, I'd have loved to catch a show.
We avoided the crowds by the Isis where many were boating, and hoped we had more time for the shows at Shakespearience. We walked past the theatres, restaurants filled with wine sipping tourists, and old buildings from before Shakespeare's time. At the end we heard the church bells chime.
According to tradition, in this church, the famous were buried inside, at the alter. However, only for a hundred years. After this set period, their bones were transfered to Westminster, so other well-known people could be buried here. Expecting to be removed, and not wanting to leave the confines of Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare wrote a curse for his grave. In it he curses anyone who dares to touch his bones. He wasn't moved! Since his death, he now continues to inhabit Stratford beside his wife, daughter, and son-in-law.

Oxford - The University Town (Part 1)

After dragging myself out of bed at 5.30, I hoped I'd enjoy the trip to Oxford and Stratford upon Avon. We changed two trains, before getting to the tour operator's office with a coffee and sandwich. The guide, a short and stocky, pot-bellied individual with heavy set features then guided us into the bus. Aware and articulate, he came armed with a sense of humor, thereby making the journey towards Oxford entertaining.
Along the way, we got numerous anecdotes from the past, and background information on the sights we passed. An hour and a half later, our bus was snaking its way into Oxford, home to students and academicians from allover. J (the guide) explained that Oxford university wasn't one institute, but a collection of colleges in the area. What started as pubs, where students got together to drink, eat, and learn, slowly became centers of learning, and eventually the Oxford University. Our destination here was Christ Church, a college that boasts of huge magnificent buildings with intricate architectural designs!
Here we learned that though Henry VIII hadn't founded this college, he had closed it down and opened it up again (as he did with many buildings in London), so it would be known as a college founded by him. Quite the pompous king!

In addition to finding out that Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) taught mathematics here, I also discovered that the Harry Potter films were shot at Christ Church. Remember this dining hall? (Currently it's being renovated).
From Christ Church, we wandered into the streets, where we saw more exquisite architecture. First came the university church which was once a legal court.

This is a scientific library started by Radcliff.
This is a small bridge that connects two colleges.
Then it was to the main road, where we found numerous shops and eateries. The oldest book store...
and an Oxford store for memorabilia (that is unbelievably expensive). Some of the tees here cost 22 pounds.
Our trip to Oxford ended at the center where criminals were once burnt to death, after being condemned in court...

Friday, 6 April 2007

Good Friday Haunts

It was my first Good Friday service ever! I went grudingly, as I wasn't sure I wanted to endure a three-hour-long service. However, I hoped the service at St Paul's and the choir would make it worth the while. Unfortunately, the choir was absent, and the minister merely read out previously written sermons. These sermons came every half hour, succeeding a hymn and preceeding a long silence. After repeated nudging and whispered "Let's Go"s, R agreed! We got out in two hours, sore (mood and butt)! However, with the peppered chicken panini, i was more cheery.
From there we got to the Tower of London, home to the Crown jewels, the ravens, and Anne Boleyn's headless apparition. The place was swarming with tourists, so i decided i'd return again later, for a tour of the Tower.
Here's an imitation of the crown that Colonel Blood stole in 1671. The Tower was also used to store important documents. Here's the armour of a soldier guarding the Tower. After watching a film on the tower, we went out to explore further. We crossed the tower bridge, to explore the south bank of the Thames.
The bright sun was a welcome change. Everyone seemed to be outside, and restaurants by the Thames placed chairs in the sun. Like sunbathing cats, people sat outside, taking pictures, drinking beer, talking, and reading. We walked on, past the Golden Hinde.The Golden Hinde is a replica of Sir Francis Drake's 16th century galleon. A little further, as we went looking for the tube station, we found the Clinks Prison museum.
Despite the 5 pound (each) entry fee, I was lured in by its "gore" factor. The skeleton at the entrance, the ancient chants, and the dark dungeon put all other doubts to rest. So we went in! Inside we got a peek into different torture techniques used in the past.
First came the weapons.........

...then came the Scolds Bridle that was used on women who were in trouble. Then came the horror stories! The torture chair, the locks used to imprison prisoners, the thief catcher that locks your jaw after a bang on the head, the chastity belt,
other torture machinery for minor crimes,


the execution center! (Pssst..that's not a real axe i'm threatening R with!)

In addition to all this, we also got to read horror stories of how prisoners were kept and treated. Women who were accused often had to prove their innocence by walking on fire, or by carrying hot coal on their head. If unscathed, they were declared "not guilty". Sometimes they were punished further by having their arms and legs pulled by horses on different directions.
The worst was the story of the rat man, who fattened a rat in prison, so he could eat it to satiate his hunger. Exhausted we finally climbed out to find a place to relax in. A drink later, we were looking for the tube station as intended earlier. Now we're back lounging on our sofa, promising ourselves to sleep early, so we're on time for our Oxford/Stratford/Cotswold trip tomorrow.
More updates then.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

The Return to Innocence

After weeks of promising and planning, I finally met up with Deepthy and Rahael. After carefully reading up on popular haunts for children, I picked the Museum of Childhood. Though we wanted to see something new, I knew I couldn't depend on a child to do much walking. So the museum it was, and one with three floors of toys, dolls, doll houses, and books!

It was a while before Rahael began having fun. She was mildly interested in the optical illusion, the trains, and the puppets, but the food in the cafe was what she wanted. After a small snack, and a lesson on the P language, she amused me with an imitation of Mr Bean and a few jokes from her prized joke book. Then we were all set to go.

The oldest pram, all kinds of toys from all ages, a neatly handwritten story from the 1700s, a teddy bear who gets presents on his birthday every year, old pictures, a series of doll houses, costumes, prams, and easy-to-make games, had all the adults hooked. Meanwhile, the children had fun in the activity areas. You could press the button for a color and light up the area in that color, or just settle down on a huge sand box and pretend you were at the beach. You could play games on the touch screen monitors, or just read a book. Then you could pick a costume from a box, wear it, pick your favorite song at the jukebox, and dance to its tunes in front of a mirror. When the dancing tired you out, you could settle down to draw! Rahael did my portrait, after politely asking if she could give me another hairdo. If this wasn't enough, you could even build your own doll house, and cook in a child-sized kitchen. I watched a young boy in the adjoining dining room say, "Where is my supper?" Meanwhile his little sisters hovered around by the toy stove, and brought him empty plates filled with imaginary food. Rahael managed to bake an imaginary cake, as the oven had gone unnoticed by the other kids.
She didn't find the bear she was looking for; one that she'd read about. So she left a note for the curator, asking where Clarence the bear was. After that note, it was time for another snack, and a quick trip to the museum store. She'd brought along 38 pence from her piggybank, and she wanted to get something with it. Sadly, even the cheapest item was 50 pence! She made futile attempts to borrow money from Deepthy and then gave up!

As with the other museums, this trip turned out to be an all day event! I had my fill of toys, dolls, and kids. Luckily Rahael had as much fun, and went back playing self made tunes on her latest acquisition; a harmonica.
"Maybe I'll make money playing tunes", she enquired, still a little sad at the fancy pen she'd been eying at the museum store.
I took another train back home, while making a mental note of presents i'd get the kids I knew back home. I wish I could transport some of them to London, for a trip to this museum.

A definite must-see for all children; even the child within you.

Nature's Call

The plan was to get out in the morning, take the tube to South Kensington, and visit three museums (the Victoria and Albert museum, the Science museum, and the Natural History museum). Instead I did only the Natural History museum; despite being far from scientifically inclined!

When I got in, I didn't think i'd spend more than an hour or two. The oldest footprints (3.8 million years old) caught my fancy, but the minerals, stones, rocks, and precious stones..not so much! However, since everyone else was gasping and taking pictures with then, i decided to feign some interest. Then I wandered into the bird room with every kind of bird, claws, feathers, eggs, and information on nests and feeding habits. Having read about them in the distant past, didn't quite prepare me for how tall the Ostrich was, or what the extinct Dodo looked like. Fascinated, I moved on to the next zone!

I found myself in the midst of excited young boys pointing at various skeletal remains of dinosaurs. We climbed a couple of stairs, and walked into a room with dinosaurs on either side. "Where is T-rex" they screamed.

Though I was clueless, the excitement was infectious. I followed, eagerly anticipating the star of the exhibition. The poster at the end prepared us for what was to come "T-Rex"! We took the dark corridor lit by dim lights above posters with T-Rex facts. I was getting more and more curious about this bone crushing, meat eating dinosaur. Suddenly the corridor opened into an open ground, where T-Rex moved and snarled at us. The kids were ecstatic.

The exhibition was impressive. There were a series of bones and screens depicting dino movement. Just when you were sure you had any child's fascination, you were already approaching the toy store with stuffed dinos. Not many parents were succeeding at steering away their kids from these stores.

I then went on to the section on creepy crawlies (of every kind). Many exhibits were interactive and fun. In addition to sparking a child's curiosity, these exhibits were also triggering off small fights. Everyone wanted to a piece of this action.

"Pick up the phone if you want to hear a particular insect."

"Pull up the crab and find out if its heavier in air or water."

"Press the buzzer for the right answer to a question regarding ants."

After the ants, mosquitoes, and scorpions, it was time for the mammals (all kinds)! I got a glimpse of every kind of animal from then on. Cats, horses, rhinos, monkeys, whales.....and kids posing beside them for pictures. From there I explored the section on humans and plants. Except for a lunch and tea break, I'd been wandering the Natural History museum all day. Before I knew it, it was 4 PM! How I wish I'd been here when I was in school. Seeing it all made it so much more interesting.

Now perhaps I could flaunt some of my newly gained knowledge?

This is the Robber Crab, that climbs coconut trees and lives on Coconuts? Interesting piece of trivia eh?

Visit the Natural History Museum if you ever get to London! Doesn't matter if you're childless. You'd just be another entity in a sea of excited, curious faces.