Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Date With The Hermitage


Being an incorrigible geek and a History freak (say... that rhymed!!), nothing can please me more when the city I currently reside in also houses one of the largest museums in the world, namely the Hermitage. Founded in 1764, by Catherine the Great, it also encompasses the residence of the former Tsars of Russia called the 'Winter Palace'.
Today like any other day we had a boring(not to mention stinky) autopsy class, after which my friends suddenly decided to visit the Hermitage. Initially hesitant, I finally agreed. For what can I say? The weather was perfect, and its not like I was going to indulge myself in academic pursuits at home anyway. A sunny 16 degrees, and an almost cloudless sky beckoned us to tour the great halls of the famed museum.
All the photos have been clicked by yours truly with my W760i walkman man phone!

We breakfasted on some cheesecake in a local cafe and made our way to my favourite site of pilgrimage (have priorly visited the museum countless times).
The thing about the Hermitage is that its not your everyday kind of boring museum. Technically you do not need to be a geek to appreciate the splendid architecture both inside and outside. Not to mention the fabulous collections of works of art right from ancient Greece to medieval China. For me its akin to heaven since I have been wallowing in ancient history since I was a kid. To be actually be face to face with the Sarcophagus of Egyptian kings of old or the marble busts of Jupiter (the Roman King of the Gods), makes ancient History come back alive.
I know a great deal of people find history boring. And feel like there is nothing in common with the lives men lead then to the lives which we lead now.
But I disagree.
I doubt that there is an iota of change between the lives of people now and then.
What has changed?
Both ancient Rome and the current world had democracies. If the modern world had Hitler, the ancient world had its Nero. If the ancient world had a proud and dominating Rome which the other nations submitted meekly to, the current world has the United States.
Just like the modern world nations have scientists developing new and unheard of technology in the field of warfare, so did the ancient world have Archimedes who is known to have who set fire to an entire Roman fleet by focussing the sun's rays into a powerful heat ray, using giant parabolic mirrors.
Corrupt leaders like the Roman Emperor Caligula who built self glorified statues of themselves existed then, much akin to certain self glorified leaders who exist today in a certain south Asian country which we are all familiar with.
Nothing changes with time. Human nature can never be subject to change. What changes is the way of life, the technology, that's it.
The same avarice, the same greed, insecurity, corruption and the polarization between the rich and the poor, persist through centuries, irrespective of how "civilized" we claim ourselves to be. There is no such thing as civilization. There is only the perpetual want to constantly satisfy ones desires. And the perpetual want to survive at all costs.
The ancient races were no different from the current age of man we see today.
Hence I believe that history indeed repeats itself. In more ways than one.

The idea behind history, is to make sure one doesn't repeat the same mistakes over and over. But I suppose no one really paid attention during their history lessons. Including our so called leaders. Rather than moving forward, we seem to be stuck in an eternal circle doing the same things our ancestors did centuries ago over and over again.
Museums preserve not mere material relics, but also the souls of the Kings of old, who look down upon the visitors and try in vain to get them to avoid making the same mistake time and again.

A museum is the reflection of man's former self, through the deeds he left behind.
And though we might assume the reflection in the mirror to have changed over the years. It ironically remains the same.
Its up to humanity to break the perpetual circle through the lessons it has learned from the ages of old.
So that future generations can look up to us as those who didn't just mutely observe the proceedings around us, but actually sought to change the course history for good.

28 comments:

Shadowthorne said...

.... I envy you yet again. I am also in love with ancient history yet we do not have great museums like the one you always go to. (Always found my country own history a bit boring, especially pre and after independence). I like my history filled with oceans of blood and the suffering of millions :).

Yes, history do repeats itself. For thousands of years (example), reading is the key to knowledge and power. Yet nowadays students are too arrogant to read books and ignorant of the consequences. It's the Dark Ages all over again.

Send my love to Caesar and Nero (two of my fav hero) and give the old sarcophagus a pat from me. :)

Aquarius said...

I love reading your blog as everytime I read it I get to know something new. The pictures are fabulous. How I would love to actually come and see the museum. And history is wonderful. Its a key to our present and future. People who think History is boring are really shortsighted.

rads said...

I was a fan of history too but it was mostly Indian; nice to know about Russian for a change...lovely captures.

Vyazz said...

@Shadowthrone: Truth be told, even I am lapping up every moment I get here, coz within a couple of months I'm gonna graduate and be back in India. Nevertheless I am truly grateful for the opportunity I got to study here. Its actually just amazing, the way they maintain and preserve the relics in such a splendid manner. Will be posting more pics of the city in due time!!!
Nice to meet a fellow history fan!!

Vyazz said...

@Aquarius: Thnx...since you live in the UK you might get some time off to visit Petersburg, somewhere in the future. I believe its more convenient. Its a truly picturesque city. Definitely worth visiting.

Vyazz said...

@Rads: Thnx.....I dwell of all sorts of histories Indian, Roman, Egyptian, Gaulish...you name it!!...Mebbe I ought to have been an archaeologist instead!!

Choco said...

Ahhh...To go back in time through travel, books and now blogs!!!
Thanks! And you managed such beautiful snaps.
One of my favorite pastimes is to Google particular incidences in the past and read up on it. But I find recent history more interesting. You know world wars 1&2, Japan, Russia, Germany.. in those turbulent times....

todays writer said...

You handled writing about Hermitage very well. nice thinking. Love the way you connected the present with the past.
One thing I would like to point out. You are right about history repeating itself and humans making same mistakes but I would like to rephrase "Human nature can never be subject to change."
Humanity can never be subject to change, human nature on the other hand changes.
-Very much similar to the concept of the weather and the climate.

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SSQuo said...

1. yes, that rhymed. Kinda. :)

2. I want to visit this place. Its ridiculously gorgeous and has soo much character. Thanks for sharing the pics.

3. Speaking of autopsies, have you read the book 'Stiff' by Mary Roach? Or is the actual stuff enough? Its a good read if you havent, it brings a good amount of humor to an otherwise dark world (esp. for us lay people).

Kaddu said...

Vyazz! Ur blog is definitely worth following. I am adding it to my google Reader.

I was only able to scroll thru the layout right now... a cursory glance to the content... making dinner right now actually! :-p LOL! So I'll need to do full justice to ur posts later, when I have more time!

Btw, you shud nominate ur blog for the photography section too. Just a personal feeling...

http://mysterious-kaddu.blogspot.com/

vaniquest said...

I do love history. This post is informative.

PS- The pictures are awesome...

Vyazz said...

@businessvarhta: Thnx 4 visiting...glad u liked my blog...have voted 4 u likewise in the bloggers choice awards!!

Vyazz said...

@SSQuo: Thnx.....yeah u should visit this place some time.....will add more photos of the city subsequently. Glad u liked them. Haven't read the book Stiff....but will look to it once I'm back in India.

Vyazz said...

@Kaddu: Glad u liked my blog...appreciate it!!! As far as nominating my blog for the photography section is concerned, only a couple of my posts have my own photos in them.....so I dunno whether it'll be all right. Newayz will look into it!!

Vyazz said...

@Vani: Thnx....always a pleasure!!

sm said...

very nice pics, like them
good post

Viyoma R said...

Bunking classes at Frnd's behest...great adventure..
Wonderful photography...

And must say..17 comments and 21 followers says it all...Keep it up and happy blogging!

Vyazz said...

@todays writer: Thnx....appreciate it!!..as far as the concept of humanity or human nature being the subject of change...I guess its upto the individual perspective!

Vyazz said...

@Sm: Thnx...glad u liked the pics. Much obliged!!

Vyazz said...

@Viyoma: Hey...its been like ages....thnx 4 dropping by....an thnx 4 the encouragement!!!

et said...

This is my first time on ya blog..ain't it?

Through the first part i was actually seeing the place as another big ol' museum. But from the snap of the Egyptian stuff, i totally adored the place.. roman sculpture are so amazing to look at!

And liked your way of writing! :)

Vyazz said...

@et...yup...its ur first time...thnx 4 visiting!!....glad u liked the pics!!!!... :)

Sandhya Ramachandran said...

Those clouds in your pictures- so wispy-dreamy-carefree!!!
And a very well written post. I absolutely agree- history is what makes us who we are and helps us decide what we want/don't want to be.
And Museums are the most fascinating places. But u should visit the Chennai Egmore museum. Especially the Contemporary Arts building. The ground floor has the most random assembly of things. I was livid!
But the first floor has a wonderful collection of art and statues from contemporary artists that makes you go WOW! :)

Vyazz said...

@Choco: nice to meet a fellow history fan!!...even I google a great deal about WWI @WWII.

@Sandhya: Hmmm...as a matter of fact even I thought the clouds looked kinda wispy. I havent been to the egmore museum...but the next time I'm in chennai, I'll make it a point to visit!!

Sandhya Ramachandran said...

You should you should! It's BEAAAAAAAAUUUUUTIFUL that section! The paintings are so WOW! :)

And the Egmore Museum Theater is so lovely and a blast from the past, really! :)

I know I sound like a tourist guide! :P

Vyazz said...

@Sandhya: hahaha..u do..more like a really eager tourist guide. Bet you're better than the boring ones you get at the museum. :)

Sandhya Ramachandran said...

LOL! :D Thanks! I shall take that as a compliment! :P