Epidaurus

Now this is an amazing place. I don’t remember if we went there from Napfion, or en route to Napfion. Honestly, it does not matter at all.

But, this is one of the most awesome places that I have been to. We were there around the middle of the day. It was really hot, and the sky was directly overhead. Despite the direct sun, when I sat there in at the top of the steps, looking down, looking at the hills, the beautiful blue sky and the clouds, it seemed to me that there was a bit of magic peeping up at me over the horizon. There was a little bit of the spirit of God looking at me from over the horizon, and it was a moment when the world seemed to be at peace.

Imagine, if you will, the sun going down over the horizon, the sky turning red-orange, with the music wafting over you. Or, imagine a cool evening under the starry sky, with the cool breeze blowing, and ethereal music playing.

I thought that this would be a great place for a rock concert, but the more I look at the photograph, the more I think, ‘no’. Rock music would be incongruous to the Epidaurus.

I could imagine sitting back and listening to the music of Hevia, for instance, and his wonderful songs, “Kyrie Eleison”, or “Mermudara”. I could even imagine Indian Ocean playing “Kandisa”.

One of my favourite bands is Huun-Huur-Tu, but their music is more suited to the grasslands of Mongolia, or the Tuvan region. Music, I think, must suit the location.

Yes, Hevia’s “Kyrie Eleison”, at sunset, at the Epidauris would bring a touch of Heaven to earth.

Music in such a setting can truly enhance the essential divinity of nature.

The ancient Greeks must indeed have been truly inspired when they built it 2,500 years ago.

The Channel

After we left Athens, we drove westwards. We stopped by at the Corinthian Channel, and I have to say that, in hindsight, I am not too amused by the guide we had with us.

I somehow felt that we were stopping at a historic place, but it was a place of modern history, not ancient history. The Corinthian Channel itself was made in the 1880’s, and is 4 km east of Corinth, between the Ionian and Aegean Seas. The names of the ancient Greek seas still sound very romantic to me, possibly because of the telling of the Greek myths and legends. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the Greek myths, and when I grew up, I read the Robert Graves translations of the myths.

I wanted to climb down the channel sides, but did not have the gumption to do so. First, I could not find the way down. Then, I was not sure if my companions would wait for me, or if they would leave me there.

The sad thing about this short stopover was that we did not get a sense of the ancient history of the Peloponnesean wars. Ancient stories that shapes the lives and destinies of many. Oligarchies versus democracies. Deaths and plague, all for power.

So, as I wandered around the place, trying to get a sense of the history, I stumbled into a sleepy shop selling some Greek music CDs. I bought one or two. I was, am, a great fan of world music, but those days I decided that anything that was “world” music is something that I would like.

I did like the music for a while, then I decided that I prefer music from my native land; from Iran and Iraq, and from the grasslands of Mongolia, and Tuvan music..

Still, the music does give a sense of evenings under the stars, by the seas, of a time of relaxation and dance. The music does not tell of ancient wars, or the drama that shaped history and legend.

The Ladies Of The Acropolis

As I look at this picture of the Caryatids at the Acropolis in Athens, my mind goes back to the hot July morning, and I reflect on the general fact that most of us, and I must say ‘mea culpa’ here, often do not take the trouble to read up the history of the place that we are about to visit. Doing so would undoubtedly allow us to appreciate the sculptures.

The Caryatids are indeed ancient, even more ancient than the Acropolis, and harks back to days when religion was centered around nature and the seasons.

The Acropolis itself dates back to about 550 BC. It was, it seems, originally known as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent man, Cecrops, the first king of Athens.

A temple dedicated to Athena Polias, the protectress of the city was built around 550 BC. Over the next centuries, more temples were built, and more temples were damaged. Several renovations were undertaken during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

During the Byzantine era, a temple dedicated to Virgin Mary was built.

On that day, when I was there at the Acropolis, there were many maidens, and I did photograph several of them. Like me, I am not sure how many of them were aware of the antiquity of the Caryatids, or the old “heathen” religions of the times.

As many religions of the world have settled into a new world order, they have become, by turn clinical, synthetic, sanctimonious, militaristic, close minded and wholly devoid of any sense of mystery.

This does not, by any means, imply that the old religions were perfect. Far from it. However, I may dare to presume that they did start with a sense of wonder. This is something we need to bring back to the modern world.

In the meanwhile, the Acropolis is, in itself, a beautiful place indeed. Something of the old spirit definitely lives on in the place. It is good to go there and feel the spirit.

An Ode To A Road

Once upon a time there was a road.

Many people walked upon the road, as there was no pavement – or sidewalk. Many people drove their cars along the road, or their motor cycles, or their auto rickshaws, or their various other modes of transport.

The road was happy. It was happy that it was able to give many people a smooth ride, and that it allowed them to reach their destinations, with out a bump. The road also realized that it played such a very, very important role in helping the economy of the town, the country where it was laid, as it helped move goods from one end of the country to the other, very, very smoothly.

The road listened to the stories of the people as they went their way on the road. There were stories that were happy; some that were sad; some that spoke of love, and others that spoke of things that were not so nice.

Yet, on the whole, people were happy on the road, and the road was happy as well.

At night, the road would commune with the stars and would exchange stories with the starry skies.

Yet, time passes on, and roads experience wear and tear.  Humans, to maintain themselves, have to eat well and exercise. If they drink too much, eat too much, and don’t exercise, their bodies wear out faster than they should.

The road asked the people who maintained it, to maintain it well. It made a sacred compact, that it would in turn, continue to transport people smoothly along their many journeys in life.

In the beginning, the people maintained their part of the bargain. Slowly, they realized that they could cut a few corners, make money for themselves, and still maintain the road in a decent enough condition.

Then, greed entered the hearts of these men, and they cut more and more corners, and soon the road started to wear a rather sad, weather beaten look.

As time passed, pot-holes emerged; small at first, then larger and larger. The road could not keep its promises, and it could not give people a happy ride.

It no longer heard happy stories. It heard people curse the road, and the potholes. It heard cars groaning, as their axles creaked under the stress of the uneven road.

During the rain, mud would fill in the road, and spread to the side. Soon, unhealthy viruses started to live in the mud, and spread disease.

And, the road was unhappy.

The men did not care. They made easy money, drank too much, and ruined their health. The men really did not care.

At night, the road would commune with the stars in the starry night, and cry out its tale of woe.

Apart from the stars, no one else heard the road’s tale of woe..

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