Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm delighted to announce that a story, Maestro, is published in the Jan issue of the CWC West Valley newsletter.

All thanks to Kathy Highcove, a colleague in the IWW.


Bassein Fort.

A citadel by the sea. Built in the 16th C.
A seat of Portuguese power for centuries.
And then won over by the Marathas in the 1700’s, in a bloodless coup.
What a tremendous, busy, IMPORTANT place it must hav
e been.

The carriages rolling past, the ladies in rustling silks.

The click of the cavalcade, boots marching in formation.
Church bells ringing out. Hymns from the many convents and chapels.

Bazaars and conference rooms, offices of dignitaries. Stately grandeur.
And now.

Just the quiet. And the cry of the bulbul. The rushed wings of egrets soaring tree high.
Walls in ruins. Just arches and outlines. Solitary bell towers and facades.

Sunlight and shadows on worn stone.
Some repair work- forget restoration, they’re using cement. And factory made concrete blocks in place of stone.

One church has been reclaimed. Rebuilt, using modern materials. A service is in progress.The teak doors are gone, the walls are cement-plastered. Who allowed this? Is this better than the walls

falling apart? I have no answers.

In rare spots, you can still see some chisel work. Floral designs and niches. In which age would the rest have been carted away?

And the chatter of sundry bird-watchers, stalki
ng about, disturbing the dead.

What amazing trees. Trees all a jumble. Species I’ve never seen before, that tall silver tree, sentinel like, all branches, no leaves…later I learn this is a native of Madagascar.

So many palms. Date trees. Mango trees. Jumbles of undergr
owth and trees, impenetrable. Beyond all these, the shadows of ghosts flitting past.The forest has reclaimed what it owned.

You step gingerly on worn stone steps, many broken.
From the ramparts, the view is beautiful. Green and gold as far as the eye can see.
Watch with envy the sheer energy of that 65-year old, the hardiest and most confident of the group.
Later, you realize you’ve missed out on the to
mbstones and the two gates. Next time, perhaps.
The best pictures are here.
After a while, my camera malfunctioned. Perhaps in the rightness of things.
A big thanks to BNHS for making this possible.


Anonymous said...

Three cheers!
My deeply felt congratulations!

austere said...

Thank you, kind mago da magician!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I will look at the pictures an my next visit, I am sorry, have no time now.
Ruins can be fascinating - :) The 19th century went as far as building ruins in parks. I know a large (? is that right?) poem called "Des Sängers Fluch" (The Spell of the SInger / Musician), that describes the ruins of a strong castle in moonlight. It had to fall because a traveling musician was done wrong there and he put a spell on it; a Ballade. See, the artist, the writer in the end has the upper hand!

AmitL said...

Heyy,congrats-am still not able to open the link,for some reason..
Bassein Fort- I wonder similarly, whenever I visit one of these historical places- how must it've been in those days, when the place was brimming with people?:)

AmitL said...

Ah...it opened, finally...great!!:)

San said...

Congratulations. I've been staring at the pictures for ages. Maybe it be clearer in my dreams now. I must visit this place, even if it is in lala land

San said...


that is you, on page 10?

norrbu said...

congratulations Austere di - will read it and send you my critique of it. A book on the horizon maybe ??

austere said...

mago- Herr historian, you HAVE to see these pics. The writer, the artist is just a witness, a quiet, powerless recorder of events and impressions.
I'd put a spell on plastic trash at such sites. AND loud visitors.

amit l- :) or is it better to have the place in use, as in the palace near Mandvi which now houses govt offices?

San - this is a suburb in the north of Mumbai, on the western track. So not too tough to get there. But yes, haunting.
yep, that be me.or my identical twin. :) Can't hide my face there, or I would!

norrbu- ty. I will wait for your crit. Reaching a thousand words takes all my skill, how do people stretch a tale way beyond??

PQ said...

Arre mera comment nahin aaya :-(
Leaving again....congratz on the story...I read it...its great. Ab to story bhi aa gaya humaare state...aap kab aayenge :-)

austere said...

of course I've been to your state, PQ, for a very rushed 4 days in '04. Done down lombard street, walked dazed thru Macy's wondering why I dont want to buy anything, and was adequately shocked at the tiny dresses women wore to work, as seen in Union square.
One evening after the conf we were adventurous, went to Pier 29, took a wrong tram back and were scared to reach the wrong part of town. :)