Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Holy Land Experience

I am in the land of Sherlock Holmes – This was my first thought when I landed in the Heathrow airport, closely followed by a pang of guilt, since I was also going to meet a school friend of mine that I had not seen in 7 years (Btw, did I mention that I was in the UK for work :D ?). But I was suitably excited when I finally met her and her husband and on our first day together we happily headed to the most famous address in the world – Baker Street 221B.

Like the museum pamphlet claims, you can belong to one of three categories: one, you have heard of Holmes; two, you have read some of his works; three, you have read all of his works multiple times and can give an extempore speech on any one of them. It was gratifying to see that they never considered a category where you had not heard of Holmes….that’s blasphemous, you know (or they believed that if you left everything else London had to offer and came all the way to Baker Street you should have an inkling of who Holmes was)!

I first saw the baker street tube station (London underground transport) :), then I saw the Sherlock Holmes silhouette in the station :D, then I saw more silhouettes pasted everywhere in the station :D :D, I came out of the station and noticed an old man advertising the 'Sherlock Holmes walking tour' and handing out Sherlock Holmes visiting cards :D :D :D....I was in the land of Sherlock Holmes !

Needless to say, my hands were ever busy with the camera and my eyes worked overtime, trying to observe every minute detail (wonder who does that :D!) and take in every possible item and associate it with one or other of his stories. What I loved was some of the scenes from his short stories that were set up in the top floor of the house. It gave me a chance to test my ‘Sherlockian’ knowledge and now I know that when I read those stories I can attach faces to the names even better than before.

Here are a few: Try your hand at guessing the stories they represent ;)

Clue: She is holding tresses of her own hair.

Clue: This is one of the cases, where Holmes supports the ''criminal'' but the only one where he never comes in contact with the ''criminal'' itself

Who is shown in this pic?

If you said Holmes, you are not very far off. It is actually Professor Moriarty. I always thought of him as Holmes’ alter ego since he was almost as brilliant as Holmes and his description inevitably reminds me of Holmes and it was startling to see that in reality.

Well, if you insist on being a spoilsport and talk about Holmes being a fictional character, then you would find the letters, sent to Baker Street every year from people who believe in Holmes, hilarious. I found them amusing too but to me it reinforces the impression a character can create on you (and I secretly believe the Conan Doyle is a real life Sherlock Holmes….how else can you write so much about the art of deduction?!). Here is a sample.

What I missed was Mrs.Hudson. The website claims that you will find her there but the lady I found at the gift shop (who was dressed like Mrs.Hudson, apparently) did not even remotely fit my mental image of her. And there was also a disinterested guy reading a book in one of the rooms, obviously the guard. Oh..well, at least they had the good sense to set up a museum and have it open, when I was in London….

PS: There is another reason that I call it a holy land experience. I will write about that in my next post.
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