Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Whirlwind Through the Streets of Paris, France

Of course a trip to Europe must include
a trip to Paris, after all, or else
all those I might describe my journey to
would throttle me for staying just at home.
I thought that Josh would go with me, but then
his teacher dropped a lot of work on him!
And so I planned to go to France alone.
From London, take the Eurostar - that's all.
But first I stopped at Upminster to see
acquaintances I had not seen in years -
my mom and dad knew them, but I was young -
too young to know at all what they were like.
I stayed with them a while, then I set out.

 House in Upminster

St. Pancras was my next exotic stop.
And that is when disaster struck me down
For I had wrongly read the leaving-time
And haply come an hour, far too late!
My heart sank low, but I had little choice
and bought another ticket for the train.
What's done is done... and so I carried on
The Eurostar took me beneath the sea
And into Gare du Nord - I had arrived!
And post some hardship getting Euro coins
so I could buy a Metro ticket south,
I set alight at Gare du Montparnasse,
was greeted there, and taken to the flat -
a hostel looking out upon the view
from fourteen mighty stories in the sky!
I could not join some folks that left the place,
'Twas just as well, for I had just one day
to see all Paris had to offer me,
and I must get up early for that day!

 View from my 14th floor Parisian flat

The morning broke; I rose and armed myself,
and headed for the Louvre across the Seine.
A place so large that one could lose oneself
in trips through time, within its glassy halls.
I spent two hours there, and saw some splendid things,
then left it all behind to see the rest.

Great halls at the Louvre
The exterior

The Jardin was nearby; I walked through there

The Jardin des Tuileries

And then up next, the Place de la Concorde;
I saw The Thinker, set upon his throne;

The Thinker

And walked nearby the Hotel Invalides.
Through St Germain des Pres, I walked in awe,
and ate my one meal for the day near there;

St. Germain des Pres

I saw the Pantheon, and Notre Dame,
and even went inside that famous church.

 The Pantheon
Notre Dame

I went inside Jardin des Plantes; alas,
I could not stay for long, for they closed up.
I walked straight through the Champs-Elysees,
surrounded by the glitzy glamor greats,
and watched the famous Arc de Triomphe light up.

 Arc de Triomphe

And last, of course, the symbol of the state:
The Eiffel Tower - larger than I thought...
I watched the lights light up, and madly dance,
and marveled yet again at where I stood -
I walked where many more had walked before,
and yet the day was special just for me.

 At night
At day

The morning saw a hasty trip back there
to nab a daylight picture of the place,
then rush to Gare du Nord just one last time
to take me back to London, where I lived.
Though Paris had been fun, I gladly left -
I'd heard quite little English since I'd come,
so France, for all its charm, felt strange to me.
It was a foreign land, the first I'd been
where natively a language not my own
was spoken freely all around my head.
One day I hope to spend more hours there,
for just a day in Paris left me short
of many other things I could have done.

- originally written November 27

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The London Trip: A Grand and Ancient Place

It's London! It is here that countless years
have passed and made this city very rich -
not just in pounds, but culturally too.

When I got off the coach, a river flowed
and I looked in the map to find its name.
And lo! Behold the mighty Thames ahead!
Across the river stood a Ferris Wheel -
the London Eye, or else, the London Wheel.
I tagged with Shihai and his other friends
and Big Ben loomed before our very eyes.
Onwards we went, and here I stopped a bit
and took a photograph or two. Once done,
I turned and found that I had lost my group.
So once again, I found myself alone
inside a sprawling city I knew not.

London Eye

Big Ben

 Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster

But luckily, I had a map - so then
I pulled it out to plan where I would go.
First stop - I headed to Trafalgar Square
where I saw Nelson's Column and a ship
enclosed within a bottle, and the steps
that led to Britain's Portrait Gallery.
From there, I took the tube from Charing Cross
and found myself afoot at Baker Street -
where Holmes, the master sleuth, had lived.
Of course I walked the wronger way
and though I saw a hotel with his name
I did not see his "house", or where he lived.
It's later that I found my poor mistake.

HMS Victory in a bottle

 Baker Street station. The Sherlock Holmes is made of thousands of small ones

I then rode out a path to see King's Cross -
to see where Harry Potter left for school.
They'd set a little enclave with a sign
that proudly showed the platform number there
in all its glory, fraction though it be.
A trolley set inside the wall was there
to make it seem as if it's disappeared
so you could try and push the rest of it
and see if you got through. I did not try.

Platform 9 3/4

From here I took the subway south and west
to Russell Square; a tourist place was near
whose name is featured right below this line.

The British Museum

Inside, I saw so many artifacts.
The things they have quite make me shake and weep
A thousand years or more of history
all sat within this one tremendous place!
I saw some sculptures Egypt made long back,
and many more that Greece and Rome had made.
I saw a hall that was entirely
a place to learn about Enlightenment.
I saw all Europe's treasures at a stretch
and many that were found far east of there -
from India and Eastern Asia, too.
Below's a tiny sample of it all.



Something Greco-Roman



 Shakespeare, Charles I, and Cromwell

An antique clock

And then it closed. It's just as well, because
I'd have to find the Globe Theatre soon.
And I was hungry - chicken pad see ew
became my dinner, with a glass of tea.

Chicken Pad See Ew and Thai Iced Tea

And then I had to hurry to the Globe.
Well-versed I was by now to ride the Tube,
and I crossed Southwark Bridge quite in a rush,
although I truly marveled that I just
had walked across the Thames in all my rush!
So all's well that end's well, it is true.
And that in fact was what we watched
inside the Globe! But my poor knees
did ache from standing fully through the play,
for we were standing yard, just like old days!

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The stage

The final bow of the cast of All's Well That Ends Well

And that was really all I did that day
I knew I must come back; for how could I
consent to dream of seeing all this land
in all its stately splendor, in a day?
But that will be for yet another day
for I am far too tired for that now.

- originally written August 1

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Paper, Finals Week, and Party BOP

So ends July, and half my summer's spent.
My paper for ecology took time,
although I left it late and wrote it all
the day before I was to hand it in,
which also was the class's final day -
the day on which we took our last exam.
I feel my essay was in decent shape,
but my exam did rather tick me off.
So time will tell if I will sadly fail
or if I'll pass on through without a scratch.
What's done is done. Now August lies ahead
That's when I'll try to live it through and through.
I've still got much to do before I leave
and in this month I plan to do it all.

Tonight's a party, post exams, for fun
The theme is "Britain" - dress as one of them!
I had no costume, so I wore a tie,
and wore my trenchcoat and my pork-pie hat.
Josh wore his suit. And so when we arrived
The PA's said we were the first they'd seen
of men who really tried to dress like Brits.
A dancing party's really not my thing,
so I went near the bar and talked to friends.
The ones who danced enjoyed themselves a lot,
and I had fun just lounging, sitting back.

Cool Britannia BOP!


Me, Josh, and Shihai

The other costume party at the Hidden Rooms

Tomorrow's London, with the PKP.
I know not what it has in store for me.
But I must take some pictures of the place
for I must still submit my entries to
the photo contest asked by PKP.

- originally written August 1

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some Studying, and Lighter Things Between

The days are rolling by; these weeks have been
two somber weeks of merely studying.
I swear that I will truly live it up
once finals end and August rolls around.
Due Monday* was the paper 'bout some ducks
on which I got a perfect 12 on 12!
In shock, I nearly walked into a wall
and left my camera inside the room,
for in the early days they stressed quite well
how perfect papers need to be to get a 12.
I went to Sainsbury's, as I was far from full
- and ate a pizza, 'twas 10 inches wide.

I watched Sir Richard Dearlove do his thing -
he talked about security all night
of which I grasped quite little, sad to say.
Free wine was served post-talk; and then I left
and followed two PA's into a pub.**

Sir Richard Dearlove

River Cam from Magdalene Bridge 

I watched a Shakespeare play, and it was grand!
It was regarding fairies and true love
(so you can guess which funny play it was).
Set in the garden of the College of St. John,
I laughed and marveled, thrilled, at all I saw
and left more entertained than long I've been
at any film. The joys of acting live!

St. John's from the back

The final bow of the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream

And last, I must take happy note
that Math class is of dreamlike fun to take.
We lounge and work out logic puzzle math
and learn a lot while having lots of fun.
I'm sad that it's now over - far too short
I'd gladly take another week of math!

- originally written August 1
*July 18, but I got the paper back July 29
**July 13 - I thought a different pub night (actually July 20 or so) was this night

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Events Up Till the Harry Potter Film

Where else could anybody choose to be
when Deathly Hallows' second part came out
than in the country where the films were filmed?
Too late, I chose to buy my midnight show,
and found the closest theatre was booked.
It's not apocalypse, I told myself
if I don't see it right when it premieres.
But then Diana told me of the Vue
where I could walk and find a ticket still!
I did just that; it was a little far,
but still I'd watch at midnight with the world!

Before the show, we played a Potter quiz
in teams of six. When I first heard,
I asked all those I knew could win the game,
but all of them refused. So I was hurt,
and steeled myself to play a one-man game.
But then I walked by Art, and I was struck
with sudden hope that I might find a team;
indeed I did. My spirits raised, I vowed
to win like I had never won before,
for even North's Mind Madness failed my dreams.
So we began; the questions were not hard
and we got most of them. Thus at the half
we found that we were very near the top.
Surprise! The quiz's second half displayed
a set of Muggle questions, test our wit,
so we did rather well on these, for I recalled
the good old days in school while playing these.
In flourish, we stampeded to the top
by virtue of our mighty range of facts
both magical and Muggle in their scope!
And so we won the prize - assorted sweets
from Honeydukes itself! And we rejoiced.

 Quizengamot - Keith, Alexa, Tessa, Sally, Katie, Emily

 Expembriarmus - the winners!

 The assorted Honeydukes sweets

The Prize. But glory was enough.

They played Part 1 of Harry's seventh film
but I left prematurely, for I felt
a need to drop back home and to unload
so I could walk unhindered to the Vue.
And at the show I met my fellow fans,
and we all grinned in glad anticipation.
And that was how I watched the final film,
the film that marked our childhood era's end.
For we - the young adults - alone can claim
to call ourselves by this so honored name:
We are the Harry Potter Generation.
And not again will I feel such a loss.

- originally written August 1

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The City and the Endless Journey South

Day 3: A trip into the city in the sun!
I woke at 10, so I missed breakfast-time.
I showered, dressed, and headed for the town
so I could get some lunch and make it back
to climb to Arthur's Seat with PKP.
But I met Brian and some other folks
who also wanted lunch. I followed them.
I had a dosa, crisp and warm and good,
and rasam. Joy, to eat a meal again!


 The Royal Mile

 A street performer on the Royal Mile

 I don't know what this is, but it looks great

A bagpiper

Then four of us set out to see the town
and we walked up to Edinburgh Castle.
We saw the Crown, the Sceptre, and the Sword
that Scotland holds so dear as sacred jewels.
We saw the tribute to the soldiers in the War
to End All Wars, who fell while serving there.
We saw much more, too much to really tell.
I had to try some whisky from this land
For Scotch is famous all around the world.
But as I tried to buy, alarms went off
and I was left without this little drink.

 Edinburgh Castle

 War Memorial

 Crowned King

 Decorative Arms

 The castle from the back

The castle's view of Edinburgh

Just two of us left now, and it rained hard
and we were hungry. So we went inside
the Elephant House Cafe - the very same
where Rowling wrote the start of Harry's life.
I had some rather tasty nachos there.
And we cabbed back, where I ran into Shawn
so we set out again to find a book
for him to read while riding back next day.
He also ate a pizza, and we talked
and when we traveled back, we then met Josh
so we went off to find some Chinese food
and I had soup. It was quite hot, but hot
to touch and sip. For spicy it was not.
And that is how my Scotland venture went.

 Birthplace of Harry Potter

Another bagpiper

Next day, Day 4, we rode back in our coach.
We stopped in Richmond, famous by itself
but we were hungry. I had fish and chips
which were quite good, if rather overpriced.
I also had an ice cream. It was good.
And that was it. We slept the travel home.

- originally written July 20