The glory of famous places

This is just another thought that crossed my mind that I caught – when I was a kid and read about the great places of country, such as Kanyakumari, Mysore, Mumbai, Kashmir, Delhi, Kolkata and whatnot made me wish a visit to one of these places. And here I am, having visited some of those places, taken pictures and I don’t really feel anything. I can’t even gather all the photos I took at various places I visited. What then, was the glory of those places deemed famous by our textbooks? What was it that Authors and Poets praised about?

I reckon there should be two reasons:

1. The comparative size of man-made structures are extreme

Think about this: there was a king who ruled a big state. To make his authority known (or whatever were his reasons) he made a huge palace. Yet, when you go to see that palace you would probably think “okay, that looks nice”. And that’s it. They are no longer astounding, amazing or jaw-dropping. You can easily find corporate offices bigger than that palace.

One of the charming factors of these places were their size. Back when they were built, they were huge by standards of their time. Now, they are smaller. Authors of those times must have been mesmerised by the grandeur. I’m sure the air-conditioned monsters we build today have surpassed the glory of those palaces. They have lost the charm of exclusivity of size and luxury and are no more than a historical artefact now.

I was in Delhi for almost 3 years and yet, I never visited Qutub Minar or Red Fort. The names were too common, like just another landmark and when I crossed by Red Fort, I remembered the size of offices of Infosys and Wipro which were pretty accessible when I was in Bangalore (or Bengaluru). Except the red color of those walls, I did not expect anything too interesting behind the walls. To be blunt (and not disrespecting a historical monument), I think Infosys’s headquarters in Bangalore are better looking structures.

2. History is huge and truth unbound

So some dude made a building because he loved his wife so much. Just too much,

  • Except she was only one of the many wives he had.
  • Except he was so full of love, he amputated the architect’s hands.
  • Except that he taxed poor people to make a building.
  • Except that he nearly emptied his entire nation’s treasury doing that.

If you know what I am talking about then the unbound truth is already out and you know about the history of the building. Once you get to know the truth, a lot of places lose their charm; most have some sort of violence attached to it.

And history for an individual is at most the maximum compressed amount of facts he/she can remember outside of the required memory for everyday work. With time, history becomes huge and then there is no space in your active memory to remember useless facts. Think about it – how important is it for an average French native living in Paris to know about the history of Leaning Tower of Pisa? Not much. He does not see it every day, he does not need to remember it to function and enjoy daily. He might not even know a lot about Eiffel Tower and very well live his entire life in that ignorance.

As we grow old, these buildings disappear from the books we read, the General Knowlege quizzes we participate in and disappear in our memories and when we visit them after years, they come back only as a mild satisfaction of having seen something which was once so important in life.

Isn’t that true?

A little?


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