Tag Archives: Sikhism

Riverhill Coffee Bar

When we got the call to say that a tiny flower made of plaster (don’t ask), ordered well before Christmas, had arrived at the Wm Boyle shop in Glasgow we decided to pick it up rather than risk it in the post. We got the train to Pollockshields East and, lo and behold, right beside the station is this place …. the Glasgow Gurdwara … impressive or what?External view of the Gurdwara Sikh temple in Pollockshields Religious we are not but we are curious about things we don’t understand and just the building alone looked worthy of investigation. We knew that Sikhs wore turbans but that was about that in terms of our knowledge of Sikhism … enlightenment beckoned.

The alter at the Gurdwara Sikh temple in Pollockshields
The alter with the covered book of scriptures (Guru Granth Sahib) on top

We were welcomed with open arms and once we had given up our shoes, washed our hands and donned some headgear we were ushered in and given a complete tour of the entire building … even though there was only the two of us! It was fascinating. We are not going to attempt to explain Sikhism here but suffice to say we now have a much better understanding. Our lasting impression though was of the warmth shown to us by everyone we met, we even received a wonderful lunch … chapatis but no scones! Internal view of Riverhill Coffee Shop, GlasgowHaving collected the little flower and bade a fond farewell to our new Sikh friends we found ourselves back at Glasgow Central station and, just around the corner, is this place, the Riverhill Coffee House. We thought that it too might be worthy of investigation. At first we thought we were continuing our eastern theme because their signature dish is shawarma wraps, which we thought sounded rather Indian but turns out to be Arabic … our ignorance really knows no bounds! We quickly reverted to type though and opted to put the only scone they had left out of its miserable loneliness. Riverhill classes itself as “exotically Scottish” … an oxymoron if ever there was one but after our recent experience at Kilmahog, this place restored our sagging faith … lots of helpful smiling youngsters, eager to help and all Scottish, hurragh! A scone at Riverhill Coffee Shop, GlasgowIt used to be a jewellery shop until the owners decided to forsake diamonds for coffee, cakes and scones – a bold but totally understandable decision. They make everything fresh daily so our scone was good and although they didn’t have cream there was certainly plenty of butter and jam. Not quite a topscone but good effort and great to see a place like this seriously taking on the multinationals at their own game. With Donald Trump cancelling his visit to London to open the new American embassy for fear of ugly protests we think he should come and visit the Glasgow Gurdwara instead. Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to a) keep God in heart and mind at all times b) live honestly and work hard c) treat everyone equally d) be generous to the less fortunate e) serve others … turban for Mr Trump! On the way home on the train we had a fascinating conversation with ‘Colin’ who hailed from the Isle of Kerrera and was on his way to Germany to visit family. The little plaster flower eventually arrived back home, safe and sound, after an interesting day.

G1 3PU     tel: 0141 204 4762      Riverhill Coffee Bar

St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art

This place is very familiar as we both used to work in the adjacent Glasgow Royal Infirmary which you can see in the background on the left.

cafe area
cafe area

We would sometimes come here for lunch if we wanted a change of scene and to look at Salvador Dali’s, Christ of St John of the Cross, bought by Glasgow in the 50s and now estimated to be worth in excess of £60m. Apparently Dali wanted £12,000 but Glasgow made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – £8,200 .. we dread to think. Did not see it this time though as it has been moved to the city’s Kelvingrove Gallery. The museum itself is interesting: built in 1989  and designed to reflect the architecture of the Bishops’ Castle which stood on this site in the 17th century, it aims to bring together differing faith systems and promote greater understanding.

the clooty tree - each strip of cloth represents a hope or a prayer
the clooty tree – each strip of cloth represents a hope or a prayer

It has Britain’s first zen garden and a Clooty Tree, which we always thought was a solely Tibetan tradition, but apparently it is also Scottish, dating back to pre-Christian times. We don’t know of anywhere else where you can see so many works of art and other artefacts brought together from the six big religions: Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Sikhism, sitting side by side, dislaying the huge diversity of belief systems and the extraordinary lengths believers go to in creating these amazing artefacts .. all designed to appeal to hearts and minds.  Nicola Sturgeon, a well known sconey, was after hearts and minds yesterday as she delivered her keynote speech to the SNP conference .. a speech that the leaders of other parties must have wished they could have delivered .. one of strength and unity. MofR 01Since this place is all about understanding we wonder at the lack of understanding from Westminster for Scotland’s desire to simply stand on it’s own two feet .. it’s not such a big ask, surely? Okay, okay, what about the scones? Well the café area is pleasant enough and in keeping with the architecture of the rest of the building but their scones (bought in) are best described as ‘ordinary’ .. but don’t let that put you off visiting the museum.

part of the zen garden
part of the zen garden

G4 0RH       tel: 0141 276 1625      Museum of Religious Life & Art