Saturday, April 5, 2008

The borough of Eden

Readers are warned that this is my own spin on the etymology of Edinburgh and for the original etymology, one must refer to Edinburgh . Anyway here goes:

Edin: Eden; from the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were created. Eden is hebrew for delight.
burgh: borough; area, fortress, walled area

And hence the title of the blog. Understated and a city very much at peace with itself, it's complex too, like blended whisky, a place where the distant sound of those haunting bag pipes can so easily fade into the screeching sound of police sirens. Most people talk about Edinburgh during Hogamanay, the last day of the Year and the Scottish tradition of celebrating this day - a time of the year when Edinburgh becomes a wild party place. Obviously, the city has more to offer than that and it is with this conviction that I decided to write about the charms of this city.

Defining Moment # 1: The McCondom

"Scotland ... No English ... Ireland .. No English ... England ... English"
I overheard this at Jenny Ha's Tavern, on the Royal mile, at the table next to mine. I was drinking a glass of single malt (think it was Ardbeg) and couldn't help but smile when this young, cute au pair from Turin was trying to give the man who was trying to chat her up her take on who in the United Kingdom spoke the real English.
Jenny Ha's was also the place where I came across the McCondom. Condoms in vending machines of toilets is commonplace across Europe, but the McCondom was special. It was the first whisky flavoured condom that I came across and as I tried to understand the enigma of those blessed Scots, I couldn't help but raise my arms in exasperation at their cheek.

Defining Moment #2: Holyrood Park

Holyrood is not a badly spelt scottish version of wannabe mainstream cinema but an anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic words Haly Ruid (Holy Cross). The Holyrood Park is bang in the centre of town and gives you the best views of the city.

The Hyde Park in the centre of London may be bigger and the English Gardens in Munich may be more aesthetic but to find such an amazing piece of highland landscape, unspoilt, right in the middle of the city makes me wonder at the amazing odds. The highest peak in Holyrood Park is Arthur's Seat, named after the legend of King Arthur, though, I think it is one of those urban legends that the Scots invented to keep this place untouched. As I climbed and watched the sun set on the city I couldn't help but wonder if there was a better seat to be perched on while watching the day dissolve into night.

Defining Moment #3: Graffiti and Shortbread

When you have 3 defining moments to choose in such a wonderful city, you end up cheating by clubbing moments. Edinburgh by far has the most charming Pubs and the graffiti in the pubs are equally charming. Picture this at the Blind Poet which quotes Churchill's I've taken more from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me or the Irish Love Ballad The greatest love above all other loves is the tender, passionate love of one drunken slob to another. As I hopped from one pub to another I couldn't help but writing more and more of such one liners and wondered how I had never seen one repeated even across pubs. Fascinating indeed !!!

I always thought Amma made the best home made biscuits in the world. Every summer holidays as she baked biscuits I'd come running into the kitchen waiting for her to get them out of the oven so that I could lay my hands on them. I wouldn't stop and Amma never tried to stop me. I would end up having far more than I could eat and would invariably end up skipping dinner. That day when I ate Scottish shortbreads for the first time, I was very much convinced that Amma came from an old Scottish clan that had settled in coastal Andhra Pradesh. The shortbreads came very close to Amma's biscuits ...

1 comment:

shilpa said...

I have recently tried one brand of shortbread in US. I wonder if it can be a tasty thing :).