'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Cemetery throbs with Life

From the Wiki entry on the 17th century Dutch Master Jacob van Ruidsael :

Ruisdael's landscapes are a polychronic lament for a stable past coupled with an unease for a profoundly unstable future. His 'Jewish Cemetery' pits a rogue natural world against the built environment, which has been overrun by the trees and shrubs surrounding the cemetery.... a lament for past mistakes made that have produced a present-day derelict landscape.

Here is a glimpse of Ruisdael's cemetery (search online for better images):

Another landscape, a banal photo taken a just few hours back by Yours Truly - it shows a wildly overgrown plot of about an acre in the very heart of Ernakulam, just behind St. Teresa's Convent and School. A wall surrounds the plot and to take the picture, one had to scale it with some effort.

What made me take the trouble was the chance discovery of a board there (I had walked past this plot hundreds of times over the last few years but saw the board only today):

From my precarious perch on the wall, I tried hard to push the encroaching creepers off the board but they proved too tenacious. However, one could still read the Hindi text in its entirety: "Jewish Cemetery, Kadavumbhag and Thekkumbhag (actually, 'Kadavumbhagam' and 'Thekkumbhagam' respectively; such mindless Hindification of place names would require Ernakulam to become 'Ernakul'). Under the protection of the Archeology Dept". Of course, no tomb, no inscribed stone slab, nothing was visible; everything rested beneath the vegetation.

Searching online, I gathered that Thekkumbhagam and Kadavumbhagam were the names of two Jewish settlements in Ernakulam and synagogues that catered to them; neither synagogue functions now. 'The Hindu' once published an article that says: "The State Department of Archaeology has ... protected the Jewish Cemetery near (the St. Teresas) Convent Junction".

Protected?! I would say yes, the plot certainly has been saved from the attentions of 'developers' (the likes of those who ate up the Jewish cemetery in Mala, for example). And whether one sees here the merciless assault of 'Rogue Nature' on Man's works or a manifestation of 'Mother' Nature's limitless fecundity and regenerative power is entirely up to the individual viewer. I, for one, saw in this cemetery as much Life as I had seen at the Manikarnika Ghat in Kashi - and left with the distinct feeling that those who sleep here must be quite okay with the present state of their resting place.


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