Back in the day when London was reaching out to the world, I wonder if they’d imagined a time when the whole world could be contained by the city. London is exotic and foreign, and feels like home, all at once. It moves ahead and stands still and twirls between histories.
I’m glad to be a part of it, even if it’s just for a minute.
London, July 2011
I’ve taken to writing (myself) postcards when travelling. I’ve this image in my head, of me, thirty-forty years down the line, going through stacks of yellowing postcards, and thinking about the good old days, a cup of hot chai in hand.
An army of Roman Generals size me up from across the terrace. Their stern expressions and concrete uniforms blur slightly in the soft green waters of the streaming pool below.
Through the twirling ribbons of mist, I trace out the jade green and stone of the Great Pool. Black lanterns holding wild orange flames hang above the water. Below, there is a quiet swoosh and the odd gurgle.
A sign asks visitors not to touch the water – a little Vietnamese girl, with mischief in her eyes, dips her fingers into the pool. Her parents giggle and take photos. In a few years the rules will change; she’ll smart from the sharp smack on her fingers and the stern words to behave.
A young man dressed in a cream coloured toga, red cape and brown sandals walks past me. I remember chunks from my history texts – the politics of the time, the wars waged, the conquests, the brutal games, the betrayals, all masked behind good intentions and works of beauty.
He smiles. I smile back, unsure about which of us is stuck in the wrong time.