Monday, October 31, 2016
On Halloween Morning:
Halloween dawned appropriately fog-ridden. Britain has only recently got into the act as the holiday frenzy has crossed the pond. I wondered if I should stock some candy for eager-beaver trick or treaters...but at the end of the day, literally, no one came ringing my door bell!
Still, I awoke at 5.30 am and began tackling my To-Do List for the day while still in bed--which is my wont. Between drafting two blog posts (for the past two days), revising and finalizing my October newsletter and reviewing my travel arrangements for the next couple of days (when I will be in Leeds), time galloped. Next thing I knew, it was about 10.00 am and I had not yet had my breakfast!
So brekkie followed swiftly--a croissant and a bagel with spreads that I am fast trying to finish. I made myself a sandwich (cheese and pickle) for lunch and thought I would carry it to NYU and eat it there. But after a shower and a chat with my Dad in Bombay, it was already about 11.00 am and I thought I would simply stay on at home and continue my itinerary prep for my upcoming travels in Italy and then in the Holy Land and France later in November. It was about 12. 30 when I stopped, decided to have my lunch right here at home (I toasted my sandwich and had it with a cup of soup) and it was only at 1. 30 that I left the house for my office.
At Work at NYU:
I had two major items to be accomplished today before I boarded the coach for Leeds early tomorrow morning: I had to send off my entire manuscript of my book to Eric at Lexington Books--my deadline was today, October 31. And I had to contact the travel agency that handles my ticketing for return to the US as I need to extend my stay in the UK for one more week as I have been invited to give a lecture at Oxford at the end of January. (I can hear my friend Ian chuckling--anything, he will say, to extend your time in the UK. Anything!)
I sent the manuscript off and received an acknowledgement very quickly. What a relief it was to see about ten years of work go off to be printed! When next I see my words, I hope they will be in print.
As for the ticket, it was easy to get a representative on the phone but she needed to do some research and promised to get back to me within the hour.
I took care of other pending email responses, then since I was waiting for Heidi from Egencia to get back to me with an email which would then involve my next call to the US, I decided to spend the time fruitfully by nipping off next-door to the British Museum. An hour would be all I'd need to see the Elgin Marbles again.
At the British Museum:
I reached the Museum at 4.l5 pm--which left me about an hour until closing time at 5. 30 pm. This time I headed straight to the Greek galleries and thought I would go straight to the Parthenon Marbles....but, as always, I got sidetracked! I spent a while at the Rosetta Stone (I did peruse it carefully and read all the curatorial notes...what an amazing find that was, really!)
Then, I thought I would see some of the more arresting pieces--like the colossal head of Ramesses and a couple of the sarcophagi. I darted in and out of rooms and saw many bits of the Museums I had never seen before: friezes from other tombs, for instance. The Payava Tomb that has a whole gallery to itself, the huge figures of Mosollus and Artemisia surrounded by fragments of friezes from their tombs, a really stunning sculpted dog that is larger than life-size, so many small busts of poets like Sophocles and Socrates, the famous Nereid Altar and one of my favorite pieces in the museum--the Caryatid from the Erectheion on the Acropolis--the only original in the UK (the rest are now in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens where I had seen them) with copies now adorning the actual site. There is something wonderfully regal about her--but also something sad (I have a feeling always that she is lonely and misses her friends).
Finally, I did get to the Elgin Marbles and I did have the time to read all the information available in the adjoining room before I went in there. This time, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that these pieces are best retained by the British Museum in London--there is so much controversy about their return to Greece, but I realized that there are a great many in Athens today and that the ones in the British Museum are only a small fraction of the great treasure that once adorned the Acropolis. I also always forget how 'dirty' they are--how soiled in a way. Somehow I always expect to find almost translucent marble sculpture staring at me--but they have dulled with time and the effects of the explosion in 1687 that shook the structure and destroyed much of it.
On my way out, I stopped at the adjoining gallery to see the Near Eastern treasures of the Persians indicated by the massive bull-man sculptures. The Assyrians bas-reliefs of the Lion Hunt were vivid (but oh so cruel)--so detailed, so carefully wrought, so impressive.
I left the British Museum at 5.25 just a few minutes before closing time. I got a shock when I stepped outside as night had fallen and it was so dark! Five minutes later, I was in my office. My email from Egencia had arrived and they asked me to confirm my new booking. I sat there and provided my credit card information and left my office at about 6.30 pm--amazed that it took so long to do one last task.
Home for Dinner:
Back home at about 7. 30 pm on a really mild evening--perfect for lucky trick or treaters--I discovered that my credit card information could not be accepted online. I had to call Egencia to finalize the sale--Arrgghh! One call to the US later, it was all done. Big weight off my mind!
It was time for dinner--I was starving. I heated samosas and had them with soup with Black Forest Cake for dessert while watching New Tricks on TV. I was really lethargic, for some odd reason, lacking my normal fund of energy--in fact, I had fallen asleep on the train home! I finished my packing for Leeds, downloaded about 1,700 photographs from my camera so that I could start the month of November afresh with an empty digital card on my camera, put together the travel print outs I had made at work--there is no way I can juggle in my mind and in reality the many trips I have coming up unless I stay organized--and setting my alarm for 6. 15 am, I fell into bed exhausted.
I am not carrying my laptop to Leeds--so there will be no blog posts for the next three days. I will try to catch up when I get back as I am sure I will have a lot to record about my lecturing experience at the University there, about the city itself (that I am visiting for the very first time) and about Chatsworth, the extravagant mansion of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire that I shall be visiting on Thursday--I cannot wait!
Until then, cheerio...