The Story of the Thames (London Diary 4)

I love ponds/lakes, I love rivers, and I love oceans. In short, I love water. In the short time that I spent in London this summer (2013), most of my visits were along the Thames River. The South Bank of the river is an exciting place with a lot of museums, galleries, eateries, and pubs.

In the fashion of a flaneur, I am less interested in sightseeing and covering particular landmarks in a city. Rather, I love to walk in a new city, immerse myself in the crowd, window-shop, and soak in the ordinariness of life.

In London, I walked in the city as much as possible. Also, I walked along the Thames, where many of the landmarks are located. I visited the North and South banks of the river on three different occasions – twice during the day time and once at night.

This series of photographs were taken while walking along the Thames River in July, 2013. The series was shot with a Nexus 4 mobile phone.

Day 1: I arrive early for a high-tea with friends at the Bea’s of Bloomsbury. The tea gets postponed to the next week. Since the place was very close to the North Bank, I decide to a walk along the Thames. I walk past the St. Paul’s Cathedral and take the Millennium Walking Bridge. As I walk across the Bridge to the South side, I find the famous Globe Theatre on my left and the Tate Modern Art Gallery on my right. I cross over to the Southwark Bridge and take a picture of the Thames from there.

As I sit on a bench on the South bank of the Thames, I notice how remarkably similar the spatial structure of London is to that of Kolkata, a city the British had built out of three existing villages on the banks of the Hooghly river. However, in the case of Kolkata, while one part is very well developed, Howrah, lying across the magnificent Howrah Bridge, is a dying place and doesn’t even resemble a satellite town of the metropolis.

Day 2: After high-tea at the Bea’s of Bloomsbury, I take off on my second walk along the Thames. This time I walk toward the London Bridge, which I had already sighted from the Southwark Bridge on my previous visit. I take the underpass built under Southwark Bridge, walk past the Anchor, a historic London pub, and walk on narrow lanes, which are dotted on both sides with ancient structures and museums.

The moment I reach the London Bridge, I hear a huge round of applause. Andy Murray, the Briton, had just won the Wimbledon, after more than three decades.

As luck would have it, as I climb the steps leading up to the London Bridge, a ship approaches the bridge. It was an amazing experience to see the bridge part in the middle to make way for the ship. I could manage to capture just two shots, when my mobile phone died.

I walk across the London Bridge and past the Tower of London, on my way to the St. Paul’s underground station. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures of the tower as my cell ran out of power.

Day 3: One of my acquaintances suggested that I visit the London Eye, the Big Ben, and the Parliament House at night. As it happened, this was a full moon night. It was indeed an extraordinary sight to see these landmarks at night when the whole place was brightly lit in neon colors. The London Eye, lit with bright blue, created a dream-like ambiance.

I walk across the Westminster Bridge and take a few more pictures of the Big Ben and the Parliament House from the South Bank.

On the Bridge, I encounter, who else but, Charlie Chaplin! An Italian guy impersonating the British legend. I have no loose pounds on me and give him a few dollars, probably a reminder of the universality of art, which cannot be confined to the borders of a particular nation and can be appreciated in any currency (language).

This is my photographic story of the Thames and the remarkable civilization it has helped shape over the centuries.

*****

In the six weeks that I stayed in London, I loved the city, its history, and its heritage. Every stone and brick in the city appeared to contain a story of the past. It’s a city which is any photographer’s delight. I wish I had an SLR/DSLR camera with me.

However, finally it’s not so much about the camera that one uses but about the story one wants to tell. With my Nexus 4, I managed to capture my story of London, which is very much the story of the Thames.

Here is the flckr link to the series of photographs. Enjoy!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/101160433@N04/sets/72157635417938736/

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This entry was posted in London Diary, Photography, Travel Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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