Jan 17, 2013

A date with Egypt


Its one word that have fascinated the world for decades. There have been mysteries spun and unraveled around them. Books have been written and documentaries made...even movies made on the mysteries of the Land of the Mummies. One of my favorite fiction read revolves around the land of Mummies... Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles.

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to rather, I still want to visit the great pyramid. Soak in the sun and the sand...walk on shores of the great Nile...visit the Cairo Museum and gaze at the long forgotten symbols of love, respect and immortality. See Mummies and Sarcophagi of the long gone Pharaohs  Bow my head in front of the gods that ruled the ancient civilization and look in wonder at tenacity with which the ancient Egyptians held on to the belief of life after death. It's a wish that compels me to read, watch and visit...written word, captured images and Museum Exhibits.

So, it was natural that when I heard that British Museum was loaning the Egyptian Mummy exhibit to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum (formerly Prince of Wales)...I was up and ready. I was ready to gaze a the preserved bodies of people who have been dead for hundreds of year. Anticipating to be dazzled by the art and craft that melded with the love for immortality and believed in life after death. I was ready to see the statues and metal images of the deities, I've always read and wondered about. The deities that are so similar to my own and yet exotic and different. The Pharaohs whose names are lost in the sands of time but whose frail preserved bodies are waiting for the passage to another life. Waiting in an unending patience that only dead can afford. Witness the grandeur of a land that boasts of being the cradle of civilization of the world....the land of Ramses, King Tut and the land of Cleopatra. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew what I'm getting into and what I was going to see, feel and experience. Boy, was I wrong.

After a lot of delays and mis-communications and traffic situations, When we reached the Museum, it was late. And I hoped, it wasn't too late. Getting into the ticket queue, I wasn't sure they were going to issue me one. but they did. And I walked into the gates. On the left hand side, I could see a looooooooooonng Q. On asking, I was told that it was the 3D documentary on the Mummies. I contemplated, looking wearily at the line, and decided that my one year old would not be patient enough to suffer 20 mins there. On we moved. At the entrance of the main building, the proof of disinterest of the administration was clearly visible...in the lack of direction. I had anticipated a sign or guide to let people know which direction to move to...which was not there. Alas, when are the guys gonna learn? Without dwelling on that, we did manage to find one meager sign saying it was 1st floor east wing. After another few minutes trying to locate the east wing in a directionless structure, we did manage to reach the exhibit. Armed with curiosity I walked in.... and came face to face with the Rosetta Stone.

Nothing that I had read, seen or watched, had prepared me to come face to face with THE Rosetta Stone. The stone that changed how the world looked at the hieroglyphs. The stone that opened the world of Pharaohs and Mummies to the world. The stone that is believed to be the cornerstone of our current understanding of the more than magical world of Ancient Egypt. The stone that played a pivotal role in the starting chapter of Kane Chronicles. THE Stone. And nothing could have compared to the awe it inspired. A lot of the patrons did not understand or realize what they were looking at...not all of them showed much interest in an rather ordinarily looking black stone with some engravings.