Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chapel Of Bones : Portugal

Facade of the Chapel of Bones
Rama, Ananth and our daughter Puja
waiting outside the chapel.

 In many bone chapels, or catacombs, the bones are just strewn arounnd, hardly serving any purpose. However at the Capela dos Ossos, the purpose of the bones is carved into the entry way, "Nos ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos", meaning "Our bones that are here awaits yours!". Seems so scary yet so profound, the meaning : literally dripping from the bones. The 16th century monks who built the Chapel of Bones wanted visiters to contemplate the rather transient nature of life, and they used a rather macabre sense of humour in bringing the point home.
A soft featured Madonna statue provides some comfort in the stark surroundings of this Chapel
Even the beautiful paintings in the ceiling are paintings of skulls

 This Chapel is inside the Igreja de Sao Francisco in Evora Portugal. The walls and the central piers are lined with human skulls and bones bedded in cement. Inside the dimly lit chapel, it takes a moment to realise that the interior walls amd pillars supporting the arched ceiling are composed entirely of neatly stacked leg bones, arm bones and skulls. Once the shock of this realisation subsides, we begin to appriciate the almost comical sights of hundreds of skulls lined up jaw to cranium, to make borders  around the sections of vaulted ceiling.
 A statue of Jesus and an ornate gilded altar are overshadowed by the Chapel's most gruesome decoration: two desiccated  corpses  hanging bizarrely on a side wall. They are the bodies of a man and a small child which are several centuries old, but there are still skin and shreds of clothing clinging to their pathetic frames. The story goes, that the man was a wife abuser and his little son was just as disrespectful to his mother. The man finally beat his wife to death, but before she succumbed, she put a curse on her husband and her child. She declared that they would soon follow her in death, but, since they were so evil, even Hell would not accept them. As predicted, the evil pair died. When they were to be buried, the ground mysteriously turned hard as rock, and their graves could not be dug. So, the monks took their bodies and put them on permanent display in the Chapel, as warning to other wife abusers and bad children. The legends shows the Franciscan monks to have been feminists way ahead of their time. In recognition of this, local women engaged to be married cut off their hair and place the braids at the Chapel entrance, making a symbolic sacrifice of their girlhood in suppplication of a happy marriage. This custom continues today, with several fresh braids on display.
An art to be admired
 Now all this may just be rumours, for the truth is far less romantic; They were denizens of local cemetries facing eviction. Eveora went through a building boom in the late 1400s. Noblemen from Lisbon, less than 100 miles away, found that the area was good for hunting. They invited their friends to vaccation in their hunting lodges, and before long all the glitterati from the capital were buying up huge tracts of land, on which they built, large country estates. The local monks worried about the rampant construction encroaching on the area's burial grounds. They dug up the remains as a protective measure, and decided they would not only keep the bones safe within the church, but use them to glorify God as well. And so the chapel was built, as a place of meditation and prayer for the Franciscans. This Chapel is indeed a chilling display of imagination that no words can describe.

It is not as scary as it looks. The  corpse of the evil man and the evil boy
 Just opposite the evil man the evil child you would find a poem which reads:
   Where are you going in such a hurry traveller?
     So little do you reflect on death:
   If by chance you glance at this place,
    Stop..... for the sake of your journey,
 The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The greatest gift I ever had, Came from God; I call him Dad!

A  wedding in the family--- I am excited for I hear my dad is coming to attend it. He is staying with me for a whole week--- I can't believe it!
  The minute he enters the house he starts chatting with us non- stop..... for there are so many things to ask , so many things to share etc. etc. He is a real store - house of knowledge .... we have to just ask him something, and he would give a detailed explanation, amazing us with his intelligence, sharp memory, and great sense of humour. He would go back to his younger days and relate all the stories of how he met and married my mother.
 Those days marriage was not a matter of choice .... it involved marrying for various reasons. Marrying within the family was considered to be best option for everybody. For example if your father's sister had 5 or 6 daughters to be married it is the duty of the father to bring home atleast one of his sister's daughter as his daughter- in- law, this way he was helping in reducing the burden from his sister's shouders. Similarly an uncle could marry his own neice. This was the custom followed for ages all over south, though now it is not so much in vogue, but still some people follow it . As long as it is not direct blood relation everything is ok. One can't even think of such things these days.
Well my father married his mother's brother's daughter, ( which is my mother). According to him he was given the choice of marrying any 1 of the 2 daughters, who were suitable for his age. But he was in a dilemma, for both were good looking, and it was upto him to choose. So he changed the names of the girls in their horoscopes and also  changed his name in his horoscope, ( because everybody knew everybody, the astrologer would not even bother to match horoscopes when it is in the family), so my father cheated a little and made him match the horoscope saying it was for a friend. Of the two only one matched, which happened to be my mother's horoscope, and thus the choice was made. Another distant cousin married the elder daughter, infact both my father and his cousin married the respective girls on the same day to save money. That was the way things were done in those days , one had to keep everything in the mind.
 But, although my parents remained happily married for 49 years, they were the sort of couple who could never see eye to eye on any issue, and since my father had the dominating streak, what he said only prevailed. My mother although loved him deeply, she hated this attitude. He had jokingly revealed to her, how he made the choice of marrying her, and whenever my mother happened to meet that astrologer, she would tell him that she felt like tying him to pole and give him 100 whip lashes.
 My parents life was full of ups and downs. Whenever my parents did get along, my mother would ask my father, to tell her the truth ..... that he married her because he fell for her,  and he would always tell her it was not love. Now he is all alone, and he feels bad that he never told her how much he loved her.  He said he could have told her that atleast once, but he was too proud to admit that to her.
But I am sure she must have guessed it long time ago, but simply wanted to know right from the horse's mouth.  Now he feels her loss so much, that he would keep going back to the days when they were really happy, and he says they were made for each other despite their differences, that  the universe works in mysterious ways, though he thought at that time he could choose between the 2 sisters, and tried to hoodwink the astrologer, he must have known deep in his heart that it was my mother he always wanted to marry.
 This, coming from my father, now when my mother is no longer here to feel happy to hear it, was really moving.  However this is not the first time I am hearing him say this, for I have heard this story many times from him, but only after my mother passed away, which was 15 years ago.
I simply love my dad ( he is 89 years). He is very active and healthy even now.
 Well, this is just one interesting story about my father and mother, there are many, many more, but it would take volumes to write about each every interesting facets of their turbulent lives together.  I can only say that, I am proud to have had such a loving and patient mother, and I am equally proud to have a such a wonderful father, who, may have been very proud at one time,  but is definitely a man with very good heart and a great smile.

If you love someone, tell them don't be afraid or too proud to admit your love to them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I simply love the word  "Serendipity" it sounds so good. I can relate to this word and its meaning, with everything that has happened in my life, and is happening in my life.

Serendipity : Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you were looking for ~ ~ Lawerence Block.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cats " Memory"

Cats Memory is one of the best known songs of a stage musicals.
Memory, is in fact, the most popular songs of the Cats, a record setting  musical composed by Andrew Llyod Webber.
Interestingly. the lyrics written by Cats director Trevor Nunn were based on two poems by T.S. Elliot : Preludes and Rhapsody On A Windy Night. As you may already know, Cats was based on a collection of T.S. Elliot's  poems : Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats.
Memory is performed by Grizabella, a former "Glamour Cat". Through this beautiful song, Grizabella sadly recalls the good times of the past. At the same time she expresses her longing for a better future.
The melody is haunting, evocative and deeply nostalgic.
One can never get bored of listening to this song  again and again. One has to just listen to the lines : Touch me, it's so easy to leave  me .......
These lines can make one cry. This song, is without doubt, the highest point of this beloved musical.
Elaine page ( the original Grizabella) made this song wildly popular. Many other famous singers have also attempted to sing this song. But only Elaine Page and Barbara Streisand have done full justice to this song.
Listen to this song by Barbara Streisand ; just scroll down.

Barbara Streisand - HD STEREO - Memory - CC for lyrics

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meaning of Life

There may be trouble ahead,
But while there's moonlight, music and love and romance,
Lets face the music and dance. ~ ~ Irving Berlin

Check out the video : it is indeed a great song.

Fred & Ginger: Lets' face the music and dance