UK visit

I’m back in Delhi from my UK trip, and here are some photos and thoughts on the places I visited!

Oxford

Click on images to go to photos on flickr

Oxford was a nice place to visit, but after a few hours of photography I got a bit bored. It was like there was nothing surprising about the sights I was seeing – like I’d already seen all this before. Maybe it’s because apart from the old buildings, the “university town” has a feel that is very similar to Berkeley. Or maybe it was just the dreary December weather – I needed a tripod in the middle of the day, and I did’nt have one!

:)

Extremely picturesque though!

Canals around Oxford

London

I liked London better than I thought I would, again not as a tourist, but rather as a place to stay longer-term. And it was more picturesque than I thought it would be!

Indian tourists looking for where to go :) … click on images to go to photos on flickr


Champagne bar at St. Pancras station


Homeland, Security

Her Royal Highness’s public toilets

Reva in London!

Reva is an electric car made in India.

Signs

Big Mac, Big Ben … New Imperialism, Old Imperialism

I need to get out my Roland Barthes to figure this one out

King’s Cross now and then (then being in the future, when apparently only female models will be allowed into the redeveloped space)

London Docklands: I have seen the future, and it is soul-crushing

Canary Wharf tube station and surroundings

Okay, maybe it was the fact that I went there on a weekend, or that it was another dreary December day, but this place – the Docklands redevelopment in London – was fascinatingly depressing. It’s what CBDs will look like if neoliberal globalization has it’s way, as it did here. This is the MBA-fication of space – the ultimate architectural reward for a successful placement in a global corporate office. It is completely sanitized, lifeless, cold, controlled and mechanical. It’s like being in a newly built airport, except you’re in it for the whole day every day.

It’s not just the buildings that are privately owned here – the entire business district seems to be in private hands – including roads, bus stops, light rail system, tube stations etc etc. A cop actually came up to me on a “street” to ask me “what the purpose of your photography” was. The entrance points by road are as heavily guarded as military facilities, and I’ve begun to suspect that the vastness of the tube and light rail stations might have a security function as well.

To top it all, the residential part of the docklands is New Urbanism heaven!

A light rail station and surroundings

Welcome to the neoliberal jungle!

Kind of reminded me of the elaborate modernist set in the Jacques Tati movie Play Time. I wonder when Docklands is going to be used as a set for a bad trouble-in-utopia si-fi movie. It’ll be perfect for a zombie-trouble-in-utopia si-fi movie. Milla Jovovich could star.

“Tativille” in Play Time

Royal Observatory at Greenwich

So I was reading up the Lonely Planet guide for what to do in London, and came upon the royal observatory in Greenwich, which is where 0 (zero) longitude and GMT are measured. So I thought I’d go there and write about it as the “center” or “point of origin” of space and time, with all its accompanying colonial and imperialistic implications, but they already have a signboard up there that proudly and explicitly states this point as the center of space and time! Should have taken a photo of that before the light gave out!

And it’s a major stop on the tourist circuit, especially the young-South/East Asian-tourist circuit. I might have to begin a list of sites on the young South/East Asian “international student” tourist circuit.

This is a scanned postcard from the observatory gift shop. They had a telescope right on the 0 longitude line! Sorry, that was for astronomy geeks

The observatory on its hill

Note the “onion” telescope dome! A symbol of the dominance of 19th century western technology over the orient, or the prevalent architectural style of the time, or are the two intertwined? Whatever the case, it is interesting that the observatory, as a symbol of global dominance, has such a dome. There definitely is a linking of power, dominance and knowledge with the “orient”. And the facade to the right looks like early-Renaissance revival!

And as symbols of global dominance go, this is such a non-assuming, innocent and literally petite space, but it represents the entire mapping of the globe and the center of power in London.

The 0 longitude line as tourist attraction

Bonus sunset pictures from the observatory hill

A shot of the lit-up Millennium Dome from the observatory

Avebury

And to end this long post, a couple of photos from Avebury, a wide stone henge with a village stuck in it!

Click on images to go to flickr photos

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