Sunday 26th August, 2007

 

Cycle of life

 
 
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We came upon Stonehenge, as if by accident, despite plotting a route, and overawed by its perfect circle, we drove right past it! We bought designer umbrellas from the gift shop, pressed the tape recorders to our ears, as we solemnly walked in the cold wet summer morning.

Together with about 200 other tourists we walked the circle. The British voice on the tape recorder made us stop in specific places, and spoke to us about the archaeological significance while postulating about the history of the people who came there.

These blocks of blue-green rocks, were majestic in stature, but they did not belong to the immediate terrain since the geological composition placed them a few hundred miles away.

The low mounds that surround Stonehenge, are in fact mass graves. And I stood in my wet shoes and I wondered how much manpower hours had gone into perfecting the symmetry and whether men had just died in carrying and placing these rocks.

It was as though Stonehenge was the ultimate symbol of the cycle of life, work and death. I wondered how many wives and children had lost their bread winners, in the name of the project.

Malaysia had built the Petronas Towers, Singapore had built the Merlions, consciously, in order to stimulate a flow of money into the economy. But the builders of Stonehenge, right stack in the middle of nowhere, whatever else they wanted, they succeeded in creating a massive spectacle of a piece of real estate.

Value of land

Legend has it that the devil purchased the stones from an Irish woman, and brought them to Salisbury and announced that one will ever know how the stones got there. A friar overhead and said: “That’s what you think,” at which the devil threw a stone at him and stuck him in the heel. Today, a special stone in the lot is called the heel stone.

In 1915, a man named Chubb bought Stonehenge for £6,000 as a present for his wife. She later donated it back to the people, together with some 30 acres of rolling English countryside.

The property is now owned by the National Trust and some farmers occupy the land as tenants. It is listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. This means that is price is now way above market, and that it is expensive property!

All land has value, but it depends on what use we put it to, whether for monuments, for farming or for housing.

As we left Salisbury, the rolling countryside gave way to English suburbia.

The apartments opened onto the pavements and were excessively high priced, and wonderfully small. Lace curtains, all in white, hung in many windows.

Next day, we would board a flight to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and get home just in time to go back to work. The cycle of life, of living and loving, saving and sharing, it goes on.

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