Monet at the National Gallery

I am standing by the door of the underground train which is just about to close when a guy jumps in and the train starts to move. He falls onto me. He says sorry as he gets his balance back and moves on. I am on my way to see the ‘Monet and Architecture’ exhibition at the National Gallery.

I should have left home a bit earlier. I do not think I will have enough time to enjoy the show as I am meeting up with Nirmala for lunch. When I reach the gallery, I only have an hour to spare. I have just enough time to listen to the audio guide and walk around. I will need to come back another day to enjoy the paintings. I have seen Claude Monet’s paintings of his garden in Giverny and the Westminster paintings, but not many of the earlier works or his other landscapes.

The exhibition starts off with some early works and then work their way through the different ages in Monet’s life. Although famous for his landscapes, he has also done paintings where buildings are the main basis of his pictures. The display mainly focuses on this aspect of Monet’s work. I can understand why these pictures go for the sums they do. You feel as if you are transported to Normandy, Paris, the Mediterranean, Venice, Netherlands and even to the bygone days in London when pollution covered everything in a foggy haze. You can feel the wind blowing on your hair, the sun shining in your eyes, the peace and tranquility of the countryside, see yourself gazing up a cliff top, listen to the frenzy of the rough seas, imagine sitting by the river side watching the evening sun’s rays cast shadows on the rippling water surface and even being part of the jubilations of a national celebration. Some oil paintings are quite mesmerising and I want to spent more time, taking in the beauty of the scenes. As the pastel shades speak poetry to your senses and you wonder how the sun, horizon, river and monuments all merge into one another and yet are quite distinctive, I stay transfixed.

The other day when a lucky person from the UK scooped one of the largest euromillion lottery wins, I wondered what I would do with such a win, not that I buy lottery tickets, but still. I know now what I would do and it would be worth every single penny of it.

Time is ticking on and I leave the gallery at noon. I was meant to meet up with Nirmala at midday outside Russell Square station. I make a dash for the station and get to Russell Square in 15 minutes. There are two options at this station to reach the exit. Either to take the 175 steps or take the lift. Nirmala is always late and so I take the steps. It doesn’t take long but I am worn out by the time I reach the top. Nirmala is running late and I wait for her.

After a leisurely lunch we walk to our Royal College for an obstetric anaesthetic meeting. At the college, I bump into one of my old colleagues who I haven’t seen for almost 26 years. Kim was one of my first senior registrars. A cheerful young lady who was an inspiration to me in those days. She is retiring in two days time. It is such a pleasure meeting her after all this time.

Lakshmi is coming this evening to stay the weekend and I make my way home after the meeting. Nirmala walks me to the tube station and we say our goodbyes till the next time. On the tube I am nowhere near the entrance. As the train moves I feel somebody fall onto me. This time she stays there. It’s an old lady. Somebody gets up and gives her their seat. She sits down. There is no apologies. I am glad I do not have do this commute everyday.

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