Friday, December 26, 2008

LDN 2: Globalization

Today I visited the Westminster Abbey. In the words of Friends's Joey, "It is hands down the best abbey, EVER." And, I absolutely concur. It is baffling to me why I had never been to the abbey before.

The abbey was built in the Gothic style, which is one of my favourite architectural styles. It is a burial ground of several British sovereigns, warriors, political leaders and literary notables. Structurally the most impressive part of the abbey is its ceiling, and columns.

The carnation chair of the British royalty is also on display here.

But, I was more moved to see the burial memorials in the Poet's Corner. Several of the British literary patrons are buried in this part of the abbey. Including, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, Chaucer, Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters. Robert Browning is also buried here, however his beloved wife and the source of his love poems is buried in Florence. There is a memorial dedicated to William Shakespeare, who is buried in Stanford. There were talks of transferring his remains from his hometown to the abbey, but they decided to keep the remains in the original graveside.

The abbey has witnessed the carnations, and funerals of several Kings and Queens but it is still here, and till this day functions as a place of worship. There are monks who live in this historical building.

Charles Darwin, whose theory of natural selection and evolution are considered blasphemous, is also also buried here. I was bemused by the irony. Take that Creationists. The only other scientist who is honoured here is Sir Isaac Newton.

There was also a prayer request for a Muslim who is being tortured. I found that very touching. Here in a Christian house of worship they are requesting for a safe return of a Muslim soldier. I think people need these little reminders to help them realize that religion is not the source of all evils, but it is just used as a device to increase barriers between people.

All in all, I enjoyed my vist to the abbey. Moreover, it seemed like they were having a North America Appreciation Day today. The place was full of North Americans. The reason I am stressing on North America, so much, because I have already been mistaken for an American THREE times. This has left me feeling very insecure about my "aboot's" and "eh's".

After the abbey, my sister and I went to the newly opened Westfield Mall to check out the British retail stores. Needles to say, because of the Boxing Day, the mall was extremely crowded. I guess, that is a good thing, hopefully our global economy would improve with more people spending their money. However, I was shocked by the globalization. They have AMERICAN Apparel here. I was so shocked to see this store that I even took a picture of it. Their H&M, The Body Shop, La Senza, Zara, and ALDO are exactly like the ones in Toronto. I have to admit the British GAP is a lot more colourful than the ones I have seen in Canada and the States. I really liked the bags they had at Accessorize, but even with the sales everything was extremely over-priced for me.

The biggest culture shock was the food court at the mall. The food court had a sushi bar, and many other proper restaurant-like food kiosks. No wonder we are the ones fighting obesity. When the British people are eating healthy proper meals during the shopping breaks, we are busy stuffing our faces with New York Fries, McDonalds, KFC, et al. Here was another shocker. They serve food in proper stoneware plates, and silverware; as opposed to where I am from, where all we get is styrofoam plates, and plastic spoons and forks. I guess their way is better for the environment, but recyclable plates would have been more time efficient.

After the mall, my sister and I walked around the posh Kensington area. This is where we saw the brightly lit Harrods. Then we hopped on random double-deckers and got a tour of the city, in its Christmas glory.

By the way, it is extremely cold here. It seems like the cold wind follows me, wherever I go. The sun rises really late, and goes down really early.

Okay, I shall get some sleep. I have an early day tomorrow, and my eyes are closing on me.


changetheworld360 said...

Happy belated Christmas! :)
London has always sounded so unique to me; I can't wait to go there someday. Yeah, in general Europeans are infinitely healthier than us North Americans (no offense). Part of it is b/c their lifestyles allow it, I suppose.

Maria Sondule said...

Sounds really cool!! Charles Darwin was religious so it makes sense that he would want to be buried there, although it is kind of funny that they would actually let that happen... Have fun with your vacation! I'm leaving too, even though I'm still sick.

Zany said...

I agree with you. As I walk by the London streets I can almost imagine the people from the Victorian era walking about heir puffy dresses with an umbrella and men going about their days in the long tailed-coats. And, this trip has taught me to appreciate the city even more.
I also agree with you about North American weight.

You brought up an interesting point. Darwin was a theologian.
Where are you going for the holidays? I hope you get better soon. Enjoy your holidays.