A Day at the Museum

11 June 2009
12.45 pm

I have never been to a museum alone. I should do it more often.

Ah! The things I am learning about myself with each idle day that passes…

I write this as I rest my tired feet and aching legs in a spartan cafeteria with modern art mumbo jumbo scrawled across its walls. Cheese flavored corn puffs and modern art mix and mingle in the caverns of a house dedicated to an ancient culture. A charming paradox.

Museums, churches, bookshops, flea markets, bathrooms, stationery shops… they fascinate me no end.

Artefacts to admire, silences that rush to sooth your mind, words that spill from generous bookshelves, trinkets that hold the soul of a place in them, the nothingness you find in a warm shower or soak, instruments that marvellously make life more efficient… bliss can be found in the most unexpected of places.

So I set out eagerly this morning to pay my respects at the Bahrain National Museum.

Situated on spacious grounds, the entrance is littered with obscurely twisted modern sculptures. A ticket that functions as a postcard granted me entrance to this lovely naturally illuminated building.

After gaping at some beautiful canvases on temporary exhibitions, I chanced upon a black heron lazily enjoying the shade with the coastline of urban Bahrain for a backdrop. A captivating sight, one of those that would look utterly stunning come dusk and night.

I was unable to record the Dilmun wing properly thanks to a tetchy camera. Ancient Bahrain is referred to as Dilmun in records. This wing ended my mid-morning tryst with history – a tad technical (heavy on archeology) but supremely enviable (coins, seals – oh the fascinating variety!).

No trip to a museum is complete without paying a visit to the souvenir shop and my tired but very willing legs towed me in that direction.

In my bag went a camel fridge magnets (I madly collect them), a chine plate (exquisite but very touristy) and a bookmark (colorful), all displaying the tag Bahrain rather prominently (this is a requisite, most tourists would agree). A word of advice though: You would have a better pick of souvenirs at the Duty Free section in Bahrain airport. The prices are pretty much the same and the choice is staggering.

A camellia plucked from the sparse but green landscape completed my quest for understanding the local culture. I returned happy, satiated and more aware of the sweet-smelling, beige and ochre country with an achingly sweet-tooth called Bahrain.

1.20 am

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Phyre takes Flight

June 2, 2009.
3:40pm IST.

As I pen this down, I am hurtling through a blue sky in a absolutely magical ride at around 940kms/hour. All I can see around me is a white haze. All I can see below me are fluffy white clouds. Clouds one could very well imagine to be goose down, whipped cream, cotton candy or a hundred different things that feel equally comforting and feel just as lovely.

Airplanes are, without a doubt, one of the coolest things invented by mankind. As the plane I was strapped in taxied before takeoff on the runway, I saw an airplane take flight. It was the first time I had seen a sight like that with my own two eyes.

Graceful, powerful and in an odd way, divine. It was magnificent.

From then on, until the time I finally gathered my wits to pen this down, my mouth had been frozen into a muoue of awe and wonder.

Yes, it is my first flight. And yes, it stole my breath away. Literally.

As the plane slowly lifted off the runway, I felt nothing but for a wild sense of exhileration and gratitude. My first trip to someplace unkown in a transport I had never before experienced was happening alone.

I had the window seat. Heck, I had the entire row of seats. It was my own private strip in a flight almost filled with people.

So in my solitude, I grinned and exclaimed all I could. Mad and freely. My muoue slowly transformed into a gape as the aircraft slowly gained momentum and geared up for the fastest zoom-off I have known. A L O N E.

The runway soon became a strip under me and then a dull slash. The buildings became little dots and then spots. The murky brown seas gave way to turquoise waters and soon Bombay- the land I was born in and roamed around in for more than twenty years was little more than an inconsequential speck. Gone.

I am now further from home than I have been at any other point of my life. The three old biddies travelling with me make up my entire connection with my hometown. My cellphone has been switched off. There is no internet to while away time with either.

All I have is a borrowed pen, an old diary, some luggage, too many mangoes, my altitude-soaked thoughts and faint strains of “Katherine Kiss Me” drifting through my mind.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting things to have ever happened to me in a long, long time. Far from being disgruntled (as I initially was) about making my first flight alone, I am happy and humming. Not a bad twist in my plight if I might say so.

What is even crazier in fact,  is that my first trip in an aircraft made for an unusual and unexpected anniversary present. The anniversary of four years of the start of my wild and passionate affair with a unique man.

Happy Anniversary Melroy. And for the man that you are, Thank You.

June 2, 2009.
4:10pm IST.