‘Room 33 covers China, South Asia and South East Asia,’ I was told by a smiley girl with long blonde hair on the information desk. ‘It’ll be quieter than some of the more popular galleries,’ on what appeared to me as a busy Saturday, ‘Some of the pieces in there are fab,’ added the girl.
How could I resist?
Almost every time we visit London we pop into the British Museum, with an enormous collection of artefacts, treasures and relics from around the world, there is always something new to discover. Even if you only have 30 minutes to spare.
When I walked into the room, there was a man in his fifties standing at a glass case with a young woman, looking at a metre-high, bronze depiction of Shiva, one of the Hindu gods. In a strong Cockney accent, he was explaining the human representation of Shiva, who is portrayed here dancing and holding a serpent above his head.
‘Snakes are like guard dogs really, you can train them to protect,’ he said.
‘How do you know that?’ the woman asked.
‘When you’re living there, you just get to understand it,’ he said.
Of all the rooms that could have been recommended to me, I was directed to this one, the room associated with Nepal and the Himalaya. Maybe it’s Shiva’s way of welcoming me early; I fly to Kathmandu on Thursday.
(This is a reworked exercise from a travel writing workshop I attended, run by Peter Carty, www.travelwritingworkshop.co.uk. A great course and I would thoroughly recommend it!)