Grief, Pride & Hope In My Submerged City

Its been eerily silent this past week. I normally revel in the quiet of my neighbourhood, but this is the silence of devastation. Of a city knocked to its knees.  I miss the sounds I whined about. Of engines backfiring in the distance. Of the howling of strays or the keening of koels that shake me from my sleep at…

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Zanzibar – The Last Slave Market

The allure of Zanzibar, its multicultural, decaying opulence harking back to an affluent past, is derived from its history of thriving commerce in the Indian ocean. It is sobering to consider however, that the affluence was fueled as much by trade in ivory and slaves as in benign commodities like spices and silk. And the fact that it was the last place on…

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Il Ghetto – An Unromantic Legacy

The Doge’s council of Venice, by its singular act of confining seven hundred Venetian Jews within an abandoned foundry on March 29, 1516, gave to the world a word that is now synonymous with segregated ethnic populations. Jewish presence in Venice dates back to the 10th century. Jews were not allowed to live on the main islands even then, but…

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The Extraordinary Renewal Of Rwanda

The shaft of light from a somber stained glass window at the heart of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is said to symbolise hope.  Designed by Ardyn Halter, the son of Auschwitz survivor Roman Halter, it depicts the descent to genocide and is set atop a series of steps indicating the points where warnings could have been heeded, where turning back was still an option. But…

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“Rest In Peace, For The Error Shall Not Be Repeated”

Memorial Monument For Hiroshima City Of Peace. The saddle shaped structure straddles a cenotaph that lists the names of all victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The epitaph on the cenotaph reads “Rest in peace, for the error shall not be repeated”. In the background, frozen in time, is the…

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A Graveyard Of Colonial Memories

Bitter memories of conquest and subjugation are most commonly expunged, post independence, by appropriating the edifices and symbols of a conquering power and imbuing them with national identity. Successive governments then milk political mileage by eradicating vestiges of colonial association from cities, streets. and maps.  Even in stubbornly resistant cities like Calcutta. But how does…

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Paris – Allée des Justes

A 60 metre stretch of road bordering the Shoah Memorial, in the Marais, once known as the Rue Grenier sur l’Eau, renamed ‘Allée des Justes‘ in June 2006, in tribute to those that did not forget the meaning of community. A pity our supreme court did. PS: I was amazed when my post on the…

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A Passion For Egypt

Plundered art and antiques, should rightfully be returned to their countries of origin and displayed in situ. So I believed, very passionately, until I learned of the burning of the Institute d’Egypte, near Tahrir square in Cairo in December 2011. And of the destruction of almost all the precious manuscripts it contained. Among them, it…

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