Rameshi's House of the Experience

A mysterious shop ...
A poster promising curious things...
An experience never dreamt of...

Finding the shop changed Tom's life but was it an addiction too far ?


3. The First Time


can remember vividly the first time I visited Rameshi's House of Experience. It was a hazy sultry summer afternoon, the sort that makes you not want to expend much energy. It was a day for taking it easy, not rushing everywhere. The smell of coffee and freshly baked bread wafted over from the bakery across the road. A few people sat at a table in the shade of a tree. Butterflies flew gracefully in sky hugging the shaded parts of the street.  


Medieval houses and shop fronts lined the narrow street. The buildings improbably almost leaning forward so it looked like it was possible to stride from one upstairs bedroom to another. The whole experience was one of stepping back into the past and I guess that was the draw of the place. The early medieval Minster rose imposingly at the far end of the street dominating the skyline of this sleepy town as it was intended, bowing its citizens to the power of the church.      


As I passed a florists, the heady scent of flowers permeated the air. Whilst it may smell delightful for some, my hay fever meant that it started me sneezing. The old lady passing me looked sympathetically at my plight but kept a safe distance away from any ejecta. I was eying up whether to stop for a cool drink or even a pot of earl grey when I noticed this old shop out of the corner of my eye.  


All the times I'd wandered down this street over the years I'd never noticed this oddity. Whilst most of the shops in the street had bright well cared for frontages, this one looked almost abandoned. Paint flaked like dandruff from the window frames and the windows looked like they could do with a good clean.  It had an unkempt appearance. Above the door a wooden lintel proclaimed 'House of the Experience' in daubed white paint. It held a strange fascination to me. I loved these out of the way places, full of interesting objects. 


The door was ajar, the inside darker than the brightness of the street. Stepping over the threshold into the darkness, I could smell the potent aroma of incense, almost overpowering and cloying. The inside of the shop was dingily lit and I had to squint at first to make out the contents of the room.  


As my eyes got used to the half light, objects started to reveal themselves. One wall was covered in oil paintings housed in dark frames that were once golden in colour had a layer of dirt and age to them. The pictures contained within the frames were of oriental origin. All reds and yellows, they looked old. A table on the side wall held lots of interesting objects from the past, they wouldn't have been out of place in a museum. Tactile metal objects that seemed like scientific instruments of yesteryear making me want to feel the curves and dials on them. They were made of brass and had obviously been lovingly cared for over the years. In places you could see and feel where people had touched them. Touching them sent images through my brain of the people who'd held these before. I dropped it suddenly and then when the images disappeared I felt silly as if I had imagined the experience. 


On a door at the back of the shop next to a counter was a poster. It looked old, the paper fraying at the edges. I could just about discern symbols and lines underneath the achromatic printing. At the top was was a logo. 'Rameshi House of the Experience' it proclaimed and underneath 'An Exhibition of Curious Photography'. My eyes got bigger as I ran my fingers over the paper, what was curious photography? The strapline proclaimed 'Be prepared to be amazed and astounded' This sounded good. There was a warning underneath in very small writing which in the light was very difficult to see.  


What a shame I thought, I'd like to have seen that, must have been a past event as the paper was so old. 


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