Before going to UK i thought that i will use this oppurtunity to see as many places and countries as possible. But as the project was cut short my excursions were limited to the great britain. On one of the very few long weekends that people get in UK , we were planning for paris but could not get the visas, so we decided upon Scotland as the next favoured destination. Though the whole thing started on a wrong note i would say:
1) no visas for paris
2) we were late in booking the tickets by around 5 minutes and had to buy 67£ tickets instead of the usual 31£ ones. ( I was living on borrowed money those days)
3) the hotel we booked didnt picked up the phone till the last time and we didnt know whether our room will be reserved.
4) Due to one of the rare disruptions in the rail service the train got delayed by around 1 hour and reached Glasgow , the biggest scottish city at 12.00 midnight.
but unlike many english cities glasgow was surprisingly overflowing with people even at that time.
It was friday night and people were out on the streets to enjoy the underground discs and pubs. (most of the nightclubs and pubs in glasgow are underground ( i didnt see any).
taking a detour, let me introduce the star cast of our scotland trip.
1) dhaval katira: katira is a cool gujju boy and he gets along well with almost anyone ( i am different ). Hes a man of taste. Goes to Rosy for £15 haircut for his naturally trimmed and thinned hair. Otherwise hes a smart boy.
2) sajon jacob: the first true non-vegetarian person i have met. He claims that apart from the rare and extinct species of life forms he has eaten almost everything. He now has his eyes on a group of swans around lake windermere ( lake district).
3)suneeth rao: suneeth rao is a humour bomb. He has a laughing gas effect on people around him and we were lucky to his distinguished company for the tour. His secret aim in life is to settle down in Bradford with his flat partner Vivek ;-). Dont get it wrong , Vivek is happily married.
4) Me: Hum to bacchhe hain, Man ke sacchhe hain, Dil ke kacchhe hain.
After all the uncertainity we found the hostel where we were supposed to sleep for three nights. we were lucky to have reached just in time as had we been late by another five minutes then we would have no option but to share the dorm with a group of drunk ( i guess on friday nights most of the firangs are) cute girls >-)
We soon found that there were only a couple of WCs in the hostel. There was a shower cubicle as well but it was hidden beautifully from the public eye ( We found it after one day , till then we managed without a bath) . After preparing the plans to get up early in the morning to use the bathrooms before anyone else, we slept like crocodiles. We were up a bit too early in the morning, nature has its own ways( samay se pehle aur kismat se jyada kuch nahi milta) and after a couple of hours we were searching for 20p coins to use the public facilities (You have to pay for everything).
We had booked a guided tour of the highlands of scotland which took the whole day. We started from glasgow and soon we were in the coutryside which was everybit as beautiful as it is said to be. Lush green meadows painted purple with heather ( a wild flower which grows easily ).
The brits are really good at marketing. From the start everything was marketed well and talked about highly. But our guide, a really nice scottish lady had indepth knowledge about the people, places and history of scotland, which kept us awake throughout the 400 miles journey. Scotland is the land of the lochs ( lakes ) and we drove past many to reach loch Ness which is famous for the lochness monster Nessie. Ness is a huge lake and at some places the lake is 180 metres deep , perfect place to hide a monster. With changing sunlight , the hills surrounding the lake changed colors as well. A large part of the highlands is covered with Heather and togather with the green landscape its a treat to the eyes. Next stop was a place called Glen Coe which has a very violant histoy. England and scotland share a violant and brutal past. Though each is a part of the UK now both England and scotland take pride in their victories over the other. Some parts of the glen were of indescribable beauty. High mountains, Purple flowers, green meadows and an intriguing network of small streams and creeks with cloud formation just feets aboube the water bodies. After Inverness we reached pitcrockly which is a one street tourist village. Though we covered around 400 miles in a single day , the bus was really comfortable and we werent tired so we decided to see the night life of glasgow. Now as i told in the introductions , katira and rao make a deadly combination. Since now both are in England , both speak english. The problem arises when they pass comments on firangs in English. We found ourselves in pretty vulnerable situations when rao and katira talked about peadophiles and 'item bombs' right in front of the firangs.
i got up early in the morning to find the shower cubicle and was successfull. It can rain anytime in this part of the world , but it never pours, just light showers and drizzle. Umbrellas and water proofs are part of peoples attire. We had planned the day for the capital city of scotland, Edinburgh ( pronounced edinbra). The scotts have a heavier accent but i found them more friendly and social than the english. The hostel where we were staying was also a congregation of people from different nationalities, but mostly from Europe.
I think that the edinburgh trip was my best day away from india so far.
From the day i arrived in Bradford from India , i wanted to go back. Bradford is a small town with lots of people from pakistan and POK. The city is unsafe and unhygenic. Its now famous for the riots which took place here a couple of years ago. Some refer to it as Bradistan and some as 'streets of rage'. If i had been assigned a project in Edinburgh, i could have stayed for some time.Ediburgh is a city of castles and old gothic style buildings. Some places like the prince street are famous for its upmarket fashion stores which house some of the best designers clothes and accessories. We were immediately overwhelmed by the lively streets, welcoming people and a beautiful cityscape of castles and historic monuments. We were lucky to have arrived in edinburgh on the last day of the fringe festival. It started in the 40s when artists gatecrashed the festival. Artists who can not make it to one of the many theatres perform on the streets. There are jugglers, comedians, dancers and natives dressed in traditional scottish attire. The bagpipe is the background music during the festival. edinburgh is divided into two parts. The old and the new. The old part contains the castles and the underground closes(underground pathways and tunnel networks). One of the famous closes is the king's close. Its said that in when plague struck ( 16 or 18th century, i am not sure), the diseased were dumped into the closes and left to die. Some of the closes are said to be haunted. Edinburgh takes a new look at night time. With all the castles and other historic monuments beautifully illuminated, the cityscape is any photographers delight. We roamed around in the city, and settled down at a viewpoint from where the edinburgh castle was visible in all its golden glory.
Well then it was time to go back to glasgow and we boarded the night bus back.
We decided to spend our day at loch lomond. But all of us got up late from bed and took a bus with a cheap ticket but reaaaaly long route . It took as a good 1 hour and around 15 minutes. I think it was a door to door service which dropped everybody home. After spending some time at the lock , it was time to head back to the railway station for the return journey.
' take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footmarks, change no one but yourself '