I always held a strong opinion about love at first sight. I argued that such a phenomenon does not exist outside movies. Then I saw her, and my strong opinion was proved wrong in an instant.
She was standing in front of a mirror, wearing a flowing dress, her face turned to one side and she was looking down. A transparent veil was drawn over her face and body, but her beautiful face was plainly visible through that veil. When I saw her first, I was out of words. How could one be so beautiful? As the day progressed, I returned again and again to that same room with the mirror, to stand and gaze at her face. She did not move away, because she was rooted to that spot, literally!
Yes, I’m talking about the Veiled Rebecca, an amazing marble statue by Italian sculptor Benzoni, the most beautiful sculpture that I have seen in my life. Not that I have seen many, but I have at least seen some detailed photographs of world famous sculptures. I can say that this statue is as good as, if not better than them. It may not have the anatomical perfection of David and Venus, or the elaborate details of Moses and Pieta, but Rebecca’s simple veil beats them all… a transparent veil made of opaque stone. And as you are looking at it, you suddenly realize that you have forgotten that the veil is made of marble. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any good pictures of this statue on the Internet, so you have to see it yourself to understand what I mean.
But this post is not about Rebecca only. There’s much more to write about. Only I didn’t know where to start.
On my first Saturday in
For most people, and especially children, the biggest attraction of the museum is a large clock that is kept in the courtyard. Every second is marked by a small figure of a blacksmith hammering away. Every hour a door opens and another figure comes out. He strikes the hour on a gong with his hammer and goes back in. There are beautiful paintings, sculptures, exquisitely carved furniture, delicate ornamental crockery, arms, garments, books, clocks and watches, mirrors, embroidery, carpets, cutlery, dolls, stuffed birds, jewels… the list is endless. And these things are from all over the world. There are entire rooms dedicated to single countries like
The Salar Jung is a huge building as can be seen in this picture from Google Earth. By the end of the day my legs were refusing to carry me, and I was sitting down frequently on the seats that they have very wisely put all over the place. At this time I realized that it was really difficult to take in so much art at one go, because I found my attention drifting. While looking at one exhibit I was thinking about the previous one. And this was happening in spite of the fact that one section was closed for renovation. I returned several times to stand and stare at Rebecca, of course, and I watched that clock strike every hour from ten to four.
Finally, it was time to leave. It had been a memorable day. I plan to go there again, because one and a half days are too less to see Salar Jung. If I have not gone there again in the last seven months, it is only because I did not find a like-minded person to go with. What is the use of looking at something beautiful if I can’t call my companions and point it out to them? But I’ll definitely go there soon, even if I have to go alone again.
Because I find I have spent quite a lot of time in this city without seeing her. I can’t endure it much longer.
[Author's note added later: After reading this post my friend Abhijit posted this on his blog.]