Having wrongly read a news report of an electronica music show at the Max Muller Bhavan by Mouse on Mars a descendant of Kraftwerk and having also wrongly informed a friend M about the show, at about 22:00 hrs last night I felt it was only right that I make up for having brought her all the way from Koramangala to CMH Road. After downing a hot chocolate, a cappuccino and a rosemary chicken quiche at Gloria Jean's cafe and knowing she had traveled the distance to capture the electronic colours and hues on her Nikon I suggested that we go down the road to the Lakshmipuram Hindu Cemetery. A cemetery in the night time being one of the bullet points on her "To Capture" list.
A silence intermittently broken by the barks of dogs and ever excited, ubiquitous crickets welcomed us as we crossed the open gates. The quintessential cemetery, stood in the stark yellow light of street lamps throwing an occasional shadow which required a furtive second glance to make sure no mysterious characters were lurking in them. Having set up the tripod M got shutter happy and I just looked around, n stick glowering.
Knowing the area from childhood I was aware we were being observed by a couple of inquisitive characters. Ignoring them for a while didnt quite please them as one of them walked in and started questioning us in Hindi first followed by Kannada. On explaining that M was just taking a couple of snaps and not disturbing the environment or creating a ruckus the ruffled inquisitor inquired if we had permission from the gatekeeper who I assumed to be tucked in bed. The time being past 23:30hrs I contested his suggestion believing the gatekeeper didnt want to be disturbed and the fact that I rather didnt want to disturb him right now. On that repartee the inquisitor took the onus of knocking the door of the gatekeeper's ramshackle hut and after repeated knockings and pleas the lady of the house stepped. Much like Helga, wife of Hagar the Horrible in appearance, the rumpled lady was not in much too a friendly mood to have a chat on what we were doing there and our exact purposes. We explained that we were here just to take some photos of the cemetery in the night time and we would not create any issues natural or supernatural. The inquisitor tried convincing that we were upto no good and had to be evicted from the property immediately. "Helga", rubbing sleepy eyes thought otherwise, warned us not to venture into the crepier looking areas and promptly went back to bed. Inquisitor in question slightly ashamed, slunk away after threatening that we should not disturb the peace of the people in their final rest..supernatural blah...supernatural blah...
We moved ahead. M capturing gravestones, trees, the crescent, inquisitive(apparently our man was not the only one) dogs, smoke from my n stick (quite unsuccessfully though), boards advertising coffin and undertaking services. By about 00:30hrs we decided to head back home. On the way back there was another stop to capture the traffic below, on and beyond the flyover connecting the Inner Ring Road and 100 Feet Road. Some beautiful snaps later I saw M off at her home and called it a rather early Saturday morning.
10:30 hrs or so there was some commotion heard from my neighbour's house. On investigating I found that the purohit who had performed the annual death observance ceremonies had uttered the final ritual incantations and had himself collapsed. Further investigation led me to conclude from a body already quite cold as well as any visible lack of breathing that the man was dead. However to reassure the neighbour that such was not the case and that there could be hope I quickly put the man into the car and drove him to the nearest nursing home. The doctor on duty presumably shared my sentiments explaining that she could not feel a pulse and advised us to rush to Chinmaya Mission Hospital. After weaving in and out of traffic for about 15 minutes we reached the hospital only to be confirmed that the purohit had indeed died. Tight lipped the neighbour and I waited for the purohit's son and daughter in law to arrive, complete the necessary formalities and then returned home.
It was only at home when it struck me that I had a near reverse chronological experience of visiting the cemetery first and then the death, all in less than a span of half a day.
Its a funny thing how after a life of division; from birth through caste, creed, sex, wealth, knowledge, position, health; a life of being ahead or being beaten by someone; a life of compromises, competition, celebration, confusion; everyone meets the same end-Death. Death is the ultimate leveler.