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.
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.
Obviously why would anyone be interested in a black obsidian stone with engraving when the colorful world of dead kings awaited ahead. But I could not take my eyes of this simple stone. Coz I could see the pivotal point in the history where scholars realized that they were looking at the KEY to understanding the cryptic symbolic language of the land. I couldn't help but wonder if i could just reach in and touch the stone. and if I did, would I feel the vibrations in the stone? The reminiscence of the stone worker's tool moving through the stone? Or may be I could feel the emotions that the first discoverers had felt at the discovery? Or if I wish to mix my fiction and reality, would I be able to feel the ancient Osiris being trapped under those mysterious words?
The rest of the exhibit was like a meager lollipop after a scrumptious Ice-Cream Sunday. It was beautiful, but nothing could reach my heart as the stone had. I saw the metal statues of the deities, I had come to know from the Kane Chronicles, saw the sarcophagus of a minor crafts-person even a mummy wrapped in linen. The exhibit was smaller and really unimpressive, if you know how vast the original Egyptian exhibit in British Museum is. There was no Sphinx or even smaller version of them anywhere. and the statues that were present were very diminutive. There was even a hall where you could dress up in ancient Egyptian fashion and get your photos taken for a fee, get your name written or temporarily tattooed in hieroglyphs, books and other merchandise bearing the symbol of the "House of Life"...but it was all superficial. In the end, for me, the real hero of the exhibit was the Stone.
If you have not been to British Museum, or have never seen a mummy, or if you've never visited Prince of Wales.... you should take some time out and visit. The entry fee is diminutive, only Rs.50 per head. The other exhibits there are equally or in some cases more fascinating than the mummies you might find there. So, my suggestion....if you have not yet visited the Museum or the Mummies, do make an occasion out of it. Pack your kids along and visit the Mysterious Land of Mummies.