An Idle Vacation in Scotland – Part 2

23 12 2006

22-31 December 2006

Part1 | Part2 | Part3 | Part4 | Part5 | Part6 | Part7 | Part8 | Part9 | Part10

Oban

I slept well last night but only till 3 am. I woke up to the groans, moans and whispers of a couple in an adjacent bed. I have stayed in dorm rooms on many occasions at many places but I have never experienced such brash indecency. Surely, the couple must have known that others in the room will be awoken and such copulation needs greater privacy. If you are a party to sexual intercourse, the difference between love-making and a hard fuck could be thin. If you are an accidental and unwilling observer, much less a voyeur, it can be perceived only as the latter. By this, all that is human is only animal. I left the place early this morning with disgust and repulsion of sex. Such impressions wither quickly for one who is not a saint.

I decided to catch up on my sleep on the bus to Oban. Once more I had little sleep but for a completely different reason. Without doubt, today’s bus ride to Oban has been the best in Britain. The scenes en route are so stunning that to miss them would be almost a crime. There are placid lakes. There are massive cliffs and their quiet reflections in the lakes. There are peaks disappearing into floating clouds. There are bare rocky slopes touched with patches of snow. All these elements do not stand in isolation. One leads the eye to the other. If one creates a perspective, another heightens it. If a lake sketches a broad landscape, the mountains frame it and enhance the overall picture. If a lake hides secrets with its smooth skin, the mountains display their wrinkles boldly. If the mountains in their uncurtailed pride, reach for the skies, the lakes bring them back to the ground with their humble disposition.

About a year ago, I had visited the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh. There I had seen some paintings of similar scenes. Then, I did not have the conviction that such scenes could be real. Today I have seen with my own eyes the bare mountains and their sombre aspect. The mountains of Scotland are stunning but without the refined beauty of Borrowdale or Buttermere. There are no green hills dotted with sheep. There are no dry-stone walls. Here nature stands alone. Her creations are wild and splendid. We may call them beautiful, but it is beauty in a raw form. It is the beauty of a diamond, yet uncut and unpolished. The curves are bold. The contours are wavy. The slopes are steep. The cliffs are bare. Nature has sculpted them blindfolded in response to a deep unknown mountain spirit. This has been my personal response this morning. Geologists and natural historians will tell you, in a more prosaic way, that the effects of the last Ice Age is more clearly visible up here than in Southern England.

Oban at sunset

Oban at sunset

At Oban, I walked by the coast and some small hills. Oban has nothing remarkable when compared to what I had seen earlier by the shores of Loch Lomond, Loch Awe and Loch Fyne. My accommodation at Oban is superb at Corran House. It is a late Victorian building of four floors. The Victorians surely knew how to build spacious living spaces. It is something of a luxury these days. I am on the top floor in a room with views towards the islands, including the Isle of Mull. From here I can see the sea, the pier, the esplanade, the boats and the sea-gulls. The kitchen on the ground floor is well-equipped and large. The lounge is warm and comfortable. The place is empty. The landlady has chosen not to have large groups for the winter. She has had a long summer. When I enquired about the business of Oban, the first thing she said was tourism. Oban is also an important connecting point for the transportation of goods. There are no major industries here but people are involved in fishing, farming and forestry.

Staircase at Corran House

Staircase at Corran House

Part1 | Part2 | Part3 | Part4 | Part5 | Part6 | Part7 | Part8 | Part9 | Part10

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