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Posts Tagged ‘Museum’

The Art Gallery at Trondheim has a large collection of Norwegian art from around 1850 up to the present. It also has an impressive collection of Danish art and a significant representation of other renowned international artists.

Savour some of these at leisure:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see artworks of a different culture is quite instructive. The kind of natural forces the people deal with. The kind of life they led. Such mundane happenings as calling a physician, visiting the town square, listening to a street musician or even depicting the means of livelihood of people – all these get captured in exquisite detail. Portraits of some persons – famous or otherwise – invariably form an integral part of the art collection. Even abstract art conveys the inner state of the artist at the time the work was getting done, possibly with a benevolent muse by his side!

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/a-walk-around-the-city-of-trondheim-in-norway-part-1-of-2)

 

 

 

 

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P G Wodehouse and the little town of Pondicherry in India could both boast of a French connection.

The former began his stint in France in 1934 at Le Touquet, but was detained and interned by the advancing German army in 1940. When he was released in 1941, he went on to live in Paris from where he left for USA in 1947.

As to Pondicherry, it was in 1674 that the French East India Company set up a trading centre there. This outpost eventually became the chief French settlement in India. With some intermittent breaks, Pondicherry remained one of France’s colonies in India till 1954.

 

Policemen surely play an important role in many of Plum’s narratives. A majority of them happen to be in the service of the Queen. Some are also of French origin. Thus, to a lesser mortal like yours truly who happens to be a fan of his and is normally found polluting the Pondicherry landscape, a museum showcasing the history of our gallant policemen there does hold some attraction. Add to this the allure of looking up policemen’s helmets of various kinds at closer quarters, and the gig becomes a must-do.

The challenges

The police force in Pondicherry comprises not only the higher rungs of officers in Central or State government services but also the humble constabulary which ensures that the laws in force are rigorously implemented without a flaw on their personal reputation and character.

 

While tracking down criminals, they spare no effort. It is their upright and proper conduct which upholds the might of the Law. Their career pursuits may not be of much interest to either the Scotland Yard or the DGSE, but they happen to be meticulous in their approach. The force believes in gender parity and has exclusive outposts (wo)manned by the delicately nurtured.

Much like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, often they face the challenge of walking the thin line between performing the duties assigned to them and kowtowing to the wishes of their political masters, much like a cop in Plum’s narratives who has no recourse but to yield to the wishes of his Justice of Peace.

Yet another serious challenge the constabulary in Pondicherry has always faced is that of keeping a strict eye on its multi-ethnic society. In order to be able to understand the psychology of the denizens under their watch, its members need to be fluent in several languages. In a write-up dating back to 1943, Monsieur Le Chef d’escadron Petignot, the then Commandant les Forces Publiques de I’Inde Francaise, speaks of the Indigenous police constabulary being entrusted with ensuring administrative police and judicial police in most parts of the territory where all the castes and almost all races exist, having to make enquiries in as many as eight different languages – French, English, Tamil, Hindustani, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali and Oriya – indicating the extraordinary situation which this police force was required to function in.

Of French policemen and weapons

Fans of P G Wodehouse fondly recall the pursuits of Pierre Alexandre Boissonade, Commissaire of Police, in French Leave, as also those of Monsieur Punez, one of his underlings. They would be disappointed to learn that the former never made it to the coveted post of a Directeur de la Police at Pondicherry. Had he done so, he would have found himself on familiar ground, what with the place being akin to the fictitious French resort of Roville, duly infested with troubled lovers, impoverished aristocrats, millionaires and servants. To his surprise, he would have also found expatriates of all hues, sizes and shapes, spiritual aspirants, retired French army personnel, the annual July shoppers which descended on the town with sackfuls of the green stuff, the weekend youth who popped up merely to soak in the spirited ambience of the place, heritage enthusiasts, environmental activists, busy physicians, egoistic academicians, robbers, swindlers and argumentative fishermen.

The deftness with which Psmith handles a situation which involves the use of a revolver in Leave it to Psmith does make one wonder as to the kind of weapons which the police force in Pondicherry used to rely upon to keep the ambitions of its criminals under check.

The enticing proposal of a pinching technique

A saunter down the Police Museum at Pondicherry does clarify some such doubts, as the photographs accompanying this write-up amply demonstrate.

Of particular interest to yours truly was the display of various kinds of ‘kepis’ in use by the police force in Pondicherry. One could not pinch any, of course. But a soft glow of inner satisfaction was surely experienced at being allowed to fondle one for a few minutes.

A close examination revealed what could perhaps be a better technique of pinching one of this kind, if ever one’s Guardian Angels offered an opportunity to do so – the backward shove, followed by a vertical anti-gravity push, while using one’s non-twiddling thumbs to hold the desired object from the front side.

Bertie Wooster would surely approve.

 

(Note: For a history of the Pondicherry police force, please refer to http://police.puducherry.gov.in)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/of-a-mom-bassett-and-the-allure-of-policemens-helmets)

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May 22 happens to be the birth anniversary of one of the greatest wordsmiths of our times – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This year, the family decided to celebrate it by paying a visit to a museum dedicated to him in Switzerland.

Included in the itinerary was a visit to the famous Reichenbach falls. That is where Sherlock Holmes was supposed to have met his end while fighting the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty. “The Final Problem”, a short story set in 1891, suggested the death of the greatest detective whose methods have influenced crime investigations all over the world!

The Museum

The small museum dedicated to Sherlock Holmes is located in a quaint little church in the small town of Meiringen. The entrance has a fine sculpture of the detective in deep thought.May 2014 376

A short pathway of gravel leads one to an old building which was originally used as a church. The pathway has stone panels on its sides. These contain beautiful illustrations depicting in brief not only the story of “The Final Problem” but also retirement plans of the detective!

May 2014 374

The basement has several displays which would interest anyone familiar with the life and times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his legendary characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The highlight is a faithful recreation of the room at 221-b, Baker Street, just after the two inhabitants have left it hurriedly, supposedly on a top-secret mission of theirs.May 2014 345

In a corner of the room one can spot a cupboard which is full of the kind of books and records the destruction of which would regale many a criminal hounded by the legendary duo in their times.May 2014 364

For the architecturally inclined, there is a map showing the location of 221-b, Baker Street, as also an elevation of the building which houses it.

The display has, amongst others, sculptures of Holmes, the certificate of honorary citizenship of Meiringen issued to him, a set of binoculars, the famous pipe and the hat. The small note left behind by Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls can also be seen.May 2014 356

Uniform of a Scotland Yard rozzer of 1890s is on display, along with some investigative tools used way back then. Articles touching upon the rugby interests and army career of Dr. Watson also enthrall the visitor.

Reichenbach FallsMay 2014 414

“The Final Problem” tells us that in May 1891, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson had stayed at the Englischer Hof at Meiringen. A walk had led them to the Falls, from where Dr. Watson had been tricked into returning to the inn, leaving Holmes all by himself.

Finally, Dr. Watson returns to Reichenbach Falls, only to find two sets of footprints going out onto the muddy dead-end path with none returning. There is also the note from Holmes, explaining that he is about to fight Moriarty, who has graciously given him enough time to pen this last letter.

Watson sees that towards the end of the path there are signs that a violent struggle has taken place and there are no returning footprints. It is all too clear Holmes and Moriarty have both fallen to their deaths down the gorge while locked in mortal combat. Heartbroken, Dr. Watson returns to England.

In the present, a funicular railway takes the visitor up to a platform from where the falls are clearly visible. The place from where Holmes and his adversary had fallen off is marked with a star. One can trek up to the star and also beyond and enjoy the magnificent scenery around.

A Tribute

While climbing the mountain, one contemplates on the ingenuity of the human mind. When used against humanity, it has the potential to give rise to a Napoleon of criminals like Dr. Moriarty. When deployed to protect the denizens against fraud, crime and cheating, it produces characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.May 2014 424

In a way, Dr. Moriarty still lives on even today. He manifests himself in various forms. Criminal deeds, injustice, disparity in opportunities and incomes and corruption, just to name a few. However, one can derive satisfaction from the fact that characters like Holmes and Watson also continue to live on amongst us, represented by forces opposed to the likes of Dr. Moriarty.

The myth of Sherlock Holmes lives on. One marvels at the mental capabilities of a person like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who created a detective who is more real to most of us than any real person we might have ever met.Conan_doyle

Such visits are more like pilgrimages. These are but a form of tribute to legendary authors who live on in our collective psyche and imagination through their works.

(Curious?  Check out http://www.sherlockholmes.ch)

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