Imagine having a beer at a library… weird isn’t it. Now, picture staying in a 200 year old building with all the modern amenities and which looks like a haunted tower from one of the Harry Potter Movies. Well, that’s how my fascination for Scotland Started. The aim was to build on the CV with an additional degree from one of the best universities of the world… but it ended up as a one year vacation in one of the most beautiful places on this planet.
As a true Indian, the moment you embark on a journey, you will be advised on how to stay away from strangers… All of these go for a toss once you land at Edinburgh, the capital for Scotland. To start off with, people were smiling at me, saying hello. Everyone seemed so happy and friendly. Why? I am an Indian, I have been brought up to suspect people who smile and greet you for no reason and then I end up in Scotland where a “Hello”, “Cheers” and “Sorry” is just a way of life. Such a happy, friendly and polite city that sometimes I wondered if I was too loud while breathing as well.
Remember this city is Unesco Heritage Site, which means its skyline which dates back to 1600AD cannot be altered in any way and that is precisely what gives this city its Hogwarts feel and inspired JK Rowling to start writing her books (The Elephant Café to be precise). No, you cannot write your girlfriends name on the walls as well.
I studied at the University of Edinburgh (Founded 1852), one of the oldest universities of the world boasts of a Library Bar (Drink while you read), The Medical school (that looks like a Harrods store), the Old College (that looks like Victoria Memorial in blackstone), the McEwan Hall (nothing less than Michelangelo’s own theatre), the Bedlam Theatre… Forget Studying, you feel like a royal member just coming and going out of these buildings. As if the architectures were not enough to mesmerize you, you have the Calton Hill(90% of Edinburgh’s pictures on Google are taken from this place) and the Arthurs Seat (which is actually hill that you climb to see far beyond the horizon of beauty that is Scotland).
The locals call it Loch, we call it mountains and lakes maybe… There’s just magic in this place. Close your eyes, imagine standing on top a cliff stretching your arms wide and breathing the purest form of air while facing the sea, the lush green lands behind you and the sun setting in the backdrop at a temperature of 21 degrees (that’s summer by the way). That’s Scottish highlands for you… every blink of your eye and every mile you travel around this place is meant to take your breath away. Loch Lomond and Loch Ness are the places you would want to build a house and settle down with a dog forever (or your wife maybe). Nature, Peace, Tranquility are the other names for what we call the Scottish Highlands.
For someone who comes from one of the hottest place of the world, Scotland can be like Antarctica for him. Temperatures can go to negative 25 degrees in winter but when the city gets completely covered with snow, it’s a vision in itself. It’s like someone painted the town white and its equally beautiful. A snowman at every turn might literally welcome you at times.
The culture is what Scotland stands out for from the entire world. Kilts, bagpipes, haggis(the traditional Scottish food), ceilidh (The traditional dance) they have a place of their own in attracting people from all over the world. For what we think of as a skirt maybe in another part of the world, is infact one of the smartest dress-up you can get into while the sound of the bagpipes in the background makes you feel one with the wind and nature that Scotland proudly holds.
There is a sense of wizardry in its architecture, a sense of mystic in its weather… there is a sense of joy in its culture and a sense of harmony in its people. Every step that you take in the cobbled and lantern lit streets of this country takes you away from the 20th century into a world of royalty, humility, peace and appreciation. You just cannot take your eyes off the hue in the sky and the purity in the wind. A country that has well preserved its nature and ensured that its history is untouched till today is a country that calls for a visit… You will need to see it to believe it when the Sun sets at 9PM in summers and rises at 9AM in winters. You will need to experience the energy in the dance form of Ceilidh, you will need to see the skyline filled with conical monuments and buildings from the 12th century to understand where we have gone wrong with urbanization.
For all who are on high spirits, Scotland is the liquor capital of the world… there is a reason why it is called “Scotch”. You can actually visit the distilleries for whiskey tasting and see how it is made before getting into your glasses (neat). People like their alcohol and the fireworks (they just need a reason to celebrate, oh yes they celebrated India’s world cup win with us as well).And if you still miss home, you can always pamper yourself to Indian food which you can find at every kilometer in every city of the country. I am sure soon we are going to take over the United Kingdom with the rate at which our population is growing.