Travel Writing

Lakewood.


The lakewood cemetery near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis is home to many a famous name.
It was a grey, overcast day. Rather windy. The kind of day that makes you rush from place to place – should it rain suddenly.
I walked inside the lakewood cemetery when the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds. The place itself was large and the spread became evident only when i had entered the gates. A verdant green slope, with stones and memorials standing out – as far as the eye could see. Like meerkats in africa – peeking out from their burrows.
The lake was in the background. The roads were covered with red gravel, and an occasional car would drive by.
A couple hispanic women were clipping the hedges and planting flowers. It was so quiet that i had to ask them if visitors were permitted everywhere.
‘Yes, you can look all over’
‘Much to see’
‘ And where may i find a brochure?’
‘There, at the office by the entrance’
‘Or, at in the Chapel’.
I backtracked to the chapel and climbed up the stairs.
Let me pick up that brochure with a guide map and also have a look at the mosaic interiors of the place too.
I stepped inside. A white haired gentleman in a grey, formal suit greeted me politely, almost as if he was trying to recognize me. A half smile – a hello that did not quite leave his lips. I stopped and asked if i could find a brochure.
Suddenly i felt that i was intruding upon something. And i asked him if i was.
“Well, there is a funeral here”
Oh.
“But you may look around, if you like”
I felt awkward.
I stood quietly in a corner making myself inconspicous.
But then the people started pouring in – one after the other and i could not make myself smaller or hide more.

Isn’t it ironic that something as tragic as death would be associated with some of the loveliest art and monuments in the world – be it the Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Giza or for that matter, on a much smaller scale, Lakewood. Is it since as human beings, we are all moved by anything dramatic. Or is it that the last stop has to look beautiful to those who are staying behind? Or is it, that those who possess the material assets in this world, enjoy making a grand exit ?
It is still ironic that the representation of life, joy and beauty that often becomes pleasant art – finds the perfect setting in a place associated with that deepest of sorrows – the loss of a loved one.

I could not bring myself to take any pictures inside the chapel.
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