Of Monarchies, and Christmas in San Francisco

I totally faded there for almost a fortnight. Work, more work and other chores means that even if I'm glued to the computer half the day, I hardly have time to organize my thoughts into something which could be even remotely readable. Thankfully, the holidays are here and ought to put an end to that! Yayyyy. And I've been bursting at the seams to write *something* - do you know the feeling?!

On the political front, Nepal abolished its monarchy today - hot news as of a few hours ago. I for one welcome that change, given the bloodbaths that have been going on over the last 75 years, the most recent one being etched in all our memories. Hopefully, it leads to a lull in the maoist insurgencies too, if they have a half decent government that isn't hampered by centuries old tradition. That said, its also a sad day in some respects - I've always found monarchs rather romantic, and on every occasion, have read up all that I could find on the two most famous current ones - King Bhumibol of Thailand, and of course, Queen Elizabeth II. Its abolishment in Nepal just means another proud line will come to and end, and at best, be the gatekeepers of palaces and treasures that will revert to a government who may not know how best to care for it.

Which got me thinking about how many such governments are left today. Apart from the UK, its colonies (which don't really count) and Thaliand, the other remaining states are Japan, Cambodia, Jordan, Bahrain, UAE, Brunei, Bhutan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Malaysia in fact has an *elected* monarch, perhaps the only such system in the world today (or ever?)! The current Yang di-Pertuan Agong ("Supreme Ruler" or "Paramount Ruler") is styled His Majesty, and cuts a pretty impressive figure on his official portrait. Much more so than jowly King Gynaendra of Nepal anyway.

On another monarchial front, QE II recently endorsed YouTube, by launching the Royal Channel. Its got some pretty nifty videos on it, including her first televised Christmas address from 1957 and even the 1923 wedding of HER parents. It was fascinating watching them - televised impressions of London from the early 20th century, and an opportunity to look at people I've only ever seen in portraits as aged royals. Its funny how one never hears of the activities of monarchs from all but a couple of famous countries. The recent death of the Tongan prince and his wife on a Californian highway was heavily telecast in the US itself, but got practically no coverage on the international media. And would we even be able to point the Jordanian King or the Malysian one for that matter, on a photo gallery?

Oh and Merry Christmas to all of you! I’m not even sure how people spend their christmases if they’re not at home eating a family style dinner. Tired as I was of this question, I ended up in San Francisco with a friend for an awesome dinner (Wild Boar with truffle sauce, yummy), finally rode the famous SF cable cars (isn’t it interesting how people who live in a city never actually do all the touristy bits?), watched Beowulf in 3D (Angelina Jolie is hotter than ever), and ended up at a catholic church for a ten minute look at midnight mass.

Ironically, the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in San Francisco is located at “666 Filbert Street”. 666? Really? :) But the church itself is beautiful. Neo gothic (See pic below), and beautifully appointed with colorful frescos, it was very nice hearing a choir sing *live* after such a long time.

St. Peter and Paul's, San Francisco

From the inside

Union Square, San Francisco

Oh, and I finally baked a chocolate cake in honor of the holidays. Turned out prettty darned good too.. :D


whitelight said...


i guess there are just two cities worth living in US: SF and NY.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

:) Totally agree!

The Darkling Thrush said...

oooh. chocolate cake!

Red said...

You missed Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and Monaco. The last three probably shouldn't count but they do sell several volumes of the Hello! magazine. Also the deposed Tsar of Bulgaria was recently elected Prime Minister

I love attending Catholic mass, the others can't just do it right. I still have to check on an Orthodox Mass though, they are big on the incense.