Perusing the City Subdued by European Tragedies [London]

Heading into the last few days of my time here in London is a little bittersweet, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty to do. Since my big trip to Germany, I have embraced my current home in the UK’s capital.

Cricket: The week I returned from Germany, I planned an excursion to a cricket game at The Kia Oval south of Central London. I had heard about cricket from many of my Indian friends at KU, but had never seen or understood the game. So, one day after work, Chelsie and I made our way to the Oval to watch Surrey and Kent battle it out. I spent the first half of the game trying to figure out all of the 50 numbers on the scoreboard and why people cheered when a “batter” hit the ball on the ground past the oval markers. Kent ended up beating Surrey 181-166, but I really had no idea what happened. The atmosphere was very sophisticated with many people in suits and dresses. England recently played India in a multi-day match.

    

Imperial War Museum: Many of you older folks who are reading this blog would be thrilled to visit the Imperial War Museum in London. The museum, as part of our weekly class trip, includes artifacts, videos, facts and information from many of the main European Wars, conflicts and worldwide relations. When first approaching the museum, large cannons surrounded by a garden set the scene for visitors. My first look before entering the museum was a section of the Berlin Wall that says “Change Your Life.” I didn’t spend much time in the museum reading about every war, but the Holocaust exhibit drew my attention. While walking through the dark rooms watching video after video of survivors, my mood shifted swiftly. Leftover items from the concentration camps absolutely show the distress and anguish the Jewish people experienced. Helga, who I visited in my Germany trip, honestly said, “It’s our fault,” [‘Our’ referring to the country of Germany.] I don’t know if she as an everyday citizen should take so much blame, for the rise of Hitler was through public officials.

    

The National Gallery (again): The first time I attended The National Gallery, our class assignment was to look at the portrait portion of the gallery. Don’t get me wrong, the portrait gallery has a great collection, but the “beasts” are found in the main entrances. This was not a required trip, but I had studied several items that are located there, so I wanted to see them first-hand. My courses in Italian Renaissance art provided me with the knowledge to properly understand the items. Works from the hands of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Monet, Titian, Rembrandt and van Gogh amazed me. Unfortunately the gallery has a strict policy for taking pictures, so you can check the items on its website if interested. My favorite painting at the gallery was “Venus and Mars” by Sandro Botticelli. Google Image the work if possible, and take a look at the ornery puti who are hypnotizing Venus and Mars. Below is van Gogh’s “A Wheat field with Cypresses” made with actual nature and a quick snap of Leonardo’s “Madonna of the Rocks.”

  

Portobello Market: I had been to the area once before briefly, but this time, I wanted to spend a bit more time looking through the quaint shops. On the way to the main market street, you can see George Orwell’s former home, a black door small home in Notting Hill. I didn’t get anything besides two things that I wanted to get in France and Germany. For each country I go to, I get a flag (ironically I need to get a USA flag when I get home!) Much to the displeasure of the local Brit clerk, I purchased a French and German flag at a British store. I’m surprised I made it out alive!

Last week’s pubs: One of Chelsie’s guy friends visited this week. Matt works in Canada at Archer Daniel’s Midland seed (competitor of Cargill’s). After work, we helped him become accustomed to London afterwork life at the pubs. We purchased Pimm’s, ciders, beers and food. Surprisingly, last week was the first time I had fish and chips. And many of you who know me, I do not like fish, although, the fried taste of the fish didn’t taste too bad! At least I can say I tried it, as I’m sure many locals will ask about it when I return home.

Victoria & Albert Museum: The past week’s slate included yet another art gallery, but I didn’t complain. The V&A Museum is a world-renowned gallery located near my London home. The class lecture before the trip was about the difference in sport, fashion, music and leisure between the U.S. and the UK. The lecturer criticized the U.S.’s inability to ‘export’ its sports. We took all of Britain’s sports and made them our own: Rugby > Football, Cricket > Baseball, Association Football > Soccer. It’s true, but it goes back to when we differentiated ourselves from Britain with anti-monarchy policies. Our sports were made our own, but they aren’t worldwide sports like soccer and rugby. In terms of music, a video in class highlighted the rebelliousness of British youth against a music swing in the U.S. And in fashion, it is said that Americans dress ‘down’ to show rebellion, but the British dress up to do so… The museum trip included many items like the British Museum. Again, I was most interested in works of the Renaissance period, including flattened reliefs by Donatello, Medician medallions, casts of Michelangelo and cartoons by Raphael. After a day in the museum, I spent a while in a central courtyard, where the sun actually felt warm for a change…

          

Spitalfields Market and Tower Bridge: Saturday I spent alone. Chelsie traveled to Italy for the weekend, so I spent time browsing my interests. I slept in after a long night out in Fulham Broadway. At Spitalfields Market, I browsed through neat stores and sat down to eat some Burmese food. It’s like Chinese and Indian foods combined. After that, I walked by Camden Town and then over to Tower Bridge. I had seen the bridge from distance, but wanted to get a few snapshots close-up. It’s a beautiful bridge with a lot of tourists. Adjacent to the bridge is the Tower of London, a Robin Hood-looking old stone fortress. I didn’t go inside, but it was neat to see the outside architecture.

    

I went home and heard the news…

Amy Winehouse dead at 27: I logged onto Twitter and saw the news that singer Amy Winehouse had died in her home at none other than Camden Town. A little bit eerie that I was in the area at the time she was found, but reports say that she had been dead for nearly six hours before being found. Tragedy in London. London had lost one of the most unique and famed female voices of all time. Her apartment in Camden Town later became the home of piles of flowers, pictures, alcohol and cigarettes. Unfortunately for Amy, drugs got the best of her. Her family was even aware that she could be dead in the next few years if she did not begin rehabilitation. She had started but later quit, leading to her recent demise. To celebrate her life, some of us went out in Camden Town that evening. “Here’s to Amy,” we said. RIP.

A day before in Olso: Tragedy hits to the North. I also caught this one when it was recently reported. Like most, I thought it could be another terrorist attack on innocent people. At first, I heard about the bombing in the city of Olso, Norway, but was surprised to hear more damage was done on an island with teenagers. The Prime Minister came out with a strong statement saying that Norway would not relinquish its democracy and government. I found it an unusual statement because no details had been given about the attacker. Recent reports of Anders Breivik in London shed light on his inability to admit guilt or remorse for his killings. One statement hurts the most: “It’s better to kill too many than not enough.” It was the headline of a daily newspaper in London. Think about this: The event is a complete dichotomy of the al-Qaeda attacks. This man is right wing, Christian Fundamentalist and anti-Islam. He warns the world of a Christian war in the future. I, like the rest of you, send my thoughts and prayer to the victims and families of the attacks. The weekend was a somber one with both the attacks and Amy’s passing.

Entering the last week abroad: Saturday marked a week before the return to America. Sunday, I organized some of my items and prepared for a smooth transition home. I wrote out an agenda for the final week to complete any last-minute events. To be honest, there isn’t much left on my wish list for London. I conquered this city, and I’m glad the last week won’t be rushed.

M2M work picking up: The past couple of weeks at the internship, I’ve been unusually busy with several projects occurring simultaneously. I’ve been doing a lot of Microsoft Excel work with trafficking and coremetric sheets for clients, social media monitoring, contacting clients and compiling creative files. I’ve been moving desks quite a bit, as people come and go from holiday. Friday, after my last day at the internship, the company is expanding to another floor and moving. Too bad I couldn’t be there to help, but instead, I’ll be packing my own bags. The job search is still in progress, as I’m just beginning conversation with potential employers. It’s hard to get too involved, as I won’t be readily available when I return because of my planned wisdom teeth extraction.

My five London tips/fun facts of the week:
1. To say five ‘bucks’, you say five ‘quid’.
2. Common words/phrases of English: “To be honest…”; “Basically”; “You alright?”; “Thanks, cheers, bye.”; “Wicked”
3. Almost all galleries and museums in London are free [and full of tourists!]
4. Public display of affection is very common in London. Couples will be quite intimate on transit, in stations, at restaurants, etc.
5. M&M World just opened in Leicester Square. Yellow M&M shopping bags are taking over London!

  

Hope all is well and that you are bearing the U.S. heat. You may think I’m crazy, but I’m looking forward to it. 1) because I want a summer tan and 2) because I want to wear shorts again!

MRF

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