Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

British Library, originally uploaded by supafly.

Last Friday I made reservations to see the Sacred text exhibit at the British Library. Before going there, I stopped at House, a local cafe, for lunch. It was a great place and doubles as an art gallery. They had couches to lounge in and plenty of magazines to read. Then I walked down towards Camberwell Green and stopped in at the Camberwell library to read Time Out and also check out the display of books that were made from last week's art day. As I boarded the bus, I noticed a dog down below wearing sunglasses - everyone on the bus peered down and laughed.

From the outside, the British Library isn't much to look at, but it has terrific exhibits! Before heading in to see the sacred texts, I stopped in their permanent exhibits and found a manuscript of Jane Eyre, a couple of Jane Austen's notebooks, and a copy of Alice in Wonderland (handwritten with the original illustrations) among other things. They had scanned several of the books so you could actually electronically "flip" through the pages. It was amazing!

The Sacred exhibit had some of the oldest copies of the Koran, Torah, and Bible on display. There was even a fragment of the dead sea scrolls. They also had ceremonial music from all three religions as well as information on religious customs and interviews with people about specific events like Bat Mitzvah and Eid.

In addition to exhibits, it is of course a library, but you need to apply for a reading pass to actually access the books. There were also several desks where many people were using their laptops, meeting, and doing work.

Next, I headed to the Southbank Centre for a dance concert. It started out strangely, as a dance with just two people accompanied by a depressing poem. However, the space was soon filled with dozens of dancers from different companies accompanied by a live band. It was a lot of fund and afterwards they had swing dancing and one of the East End Elvises made an appearance.

I sat outside on the South Bank for awhile and read the free newspapers they pass out here every night (London Paper and London Lite) and watched high school students walk by in formal wear on their way to a party on a boat docked nearby. It started to get colder, so I took the tube and met Marshall for dinner. We were trying to find Abeno Too, an okonomiyaki place, but instead ended up at Tokyo Diner, which was a nice place with large portions. The katsu don wasn't as tasty as Sunshine Cafe's though. (I really miss that place!) Afterwards, we found Abeno Too, which looked like a lot of fun - they cook the okonomiyaki right in front of you.

On the way home, we ran into the Canada Day festival at Trafalger Square. We were just in time for the last band's performance. It was surreal to be in London with all of these people dressed in red, waving Canadian flags, and drinking Canadian beer. The night ended with the singing of their national anthem and then we headed home.

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