Mountains

of a cemetery…

Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet,Uttarakhand, India

a cemetery, ironically, is where death seems quite distant… the lifelessness beneath those large muted slabs of stone, as if determined to be an antithesis, tends to diffuse more life around it, with contemplative overtones so crisp that one simply cannot resist the urge to pause and probe the tenets of life itself, often slipping into long ruminations…

Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

no wonder then that philosophers and poets have tended to chew intently upon their coattails in want of inspiration, from Heidegger’s Dasein to the protagonists of the graveyard school, seeking shelter against the unrelenting barrage of cognitive distractions to revel in the simple sense of being…

Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

the second wave of the mortality matinee had not quite started (a few forest fires had though) when I sauntered down the Parsi cemetery, so there was more jocularity than gravity in the spring breeze, brimming with hope that wriggles out o’ winter…

Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

a couple of hundred meters down the road, it is the smallest of the cluster of 3 cemeteries in span of half a dozen kilometres, while the others are much larger and (if needed) still in use, this one is a throwback to the colonial era, of enterprising Parsi businessman and their interests within the empire, when the upper ridges were the business hubs as opposed to the quaint hamlets that they are today…

Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

for some reason, this place tends to remind me of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, although one assumes the cemetery houses people of prominence rather than obscure peasants he was brooding upon… the melancholy of his elaborate iambic pentameter, seems universal though…

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,

Awaits alike the inevitable hour,

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

the graves, five in number – there could be more, but its all cocooned in a dry rustic undergrowth that one simply doesn’t have the heart to disturb – are as understated as graves can be, simple slabs of stone of varying sizes lying parallel to each other, revealing nothing unless one really forces oneself upon it with an archaeologist’s vigour, which to be fair, this little piece of terraced land doesn’t really need… unlike the larger cemeteries which are shrouded in dark cypress and oak canopies, this one is surrounded by pine trees, lined up in their quintessential orderly fashion, and therefore has a rather sunny disposition to it, looking over the valley as the odd soul circles around it on climbing up the steep hill from a village down below…

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

there is no straight way into the cemetery now, although I do remember ‘twas easier some years back, and one has to jump through the stone wall perimeter to access it, tall, lanky pines guard the entrance to the point of blocking it… inside is a rather cosy space where the wind can only skim through the top and not rustle up much…

Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

a hare jumped out from behind a clump of shrubs as I jumped into the compound, instigating a startle that was kind of mutual, and both of us froze as I tried to slowly move the camera around… it wasn’t to be though as it skipped across as the slightest movement leaving me with only a couple of quick shots to contend with…

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

there was fair amount of breeze, fast enough to make the pine trees, most of them young I assume, forget all about crown shyness and bump into each other, swaying and whirling like dervishes,  making loud crackling noises as if lending some percussion to the environs…

being confronted by the fickle nature of existence can be daunting, especially when it’s a sudden dismantling of a pretentious superiority built over decades, the hubris of technology tripped over by the simple biology… yet when this too has passed, like always, solace would still be waiting in the sanctuaries of the departed…

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

musings on a Parsi cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

Author: Parth Joshi

Mountain lover ⛰️ | Hiker 🥾| Runner 🏃‍♂️ | Cyclist 🚴 | Photographer 📷... allured by the outdoors, the author is a quintessential lost soul craving for the outdoors while suffering in a desk job...

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