Monday, January 23, 2012

Cross Bones Graveyard..

One really cold bright winter morning we were driving around London. It was freezing. Borough market was alive, people spilling out into the pavements waiting their turn into the best places.
We were standing there having arrived early when we decided to explore a narrow lane running off the market.  Juts off the road, on Redcross way we stumbled upon something. Another one of London's treasures stashed away in plain sight.

From a distance all we could see was brightly coloured ribbons, flowers, beads and feathers hanging from the iron fence. It was a pretty sight. Clearly this area had been marked as something special.
But by who and for whom we did not know until we got a little closer.

We were at the Cross Bones graveyard dating back to the medieval ages. Originally a graveyard for prostitutes, the epitaph reads 'The Outcast Dead' rest in peace.
The story goes back to the 12th century and at the center of the plot is the Bishop of Winchester who at that time had under his jurisdiction the 'Liberty of Clink' (The area around Southwark and situated on the South bank of the river Thames). They say absolute power corrupts absolutely and across cultures , everywhere in this aching broken world  nobody bears the brunt of this corruption which comes from power more than its women!
This piece of history from the medieval England is no exception. Exploitation is always cloaked in euphemisms - Comfort women, women of easy virtue, lady of the night;  Here they were simply called Single women,  and since it was under the righteous rule of the Bishop of Winchester , the prostitutes buried in this piece of land, denied of a christian burial were called 'Winchester Geese'.  Slowly it became a pauper's burial place, for anyone on the fringes of society, for people who could not afford a christian burial.  Bursting at its seams it was finally closed down in 1853

What struck me the most is how ,the victims of exploitation automatically inherit the shame.
Its the same everywhere. From where I come, exploitation comes packaged with the words - 'Culture' or 'Respect' or 'Values'.  Even though our visit there was brief, I thought about it long and hard after we left. What they were denied in life they probably attained many years after their death. Ostracized they may be , but  the graveyard of crossbones is in the heart of the city, marked by colour and life!
It is a beautiful place!

"The most notable fact that culture imprints on women is the sense of our limits. The most important thing one woman can do for another is to illuminate and expand her sense of actual possibilities.     ----------Adrienne Rich-----

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And the moon shines down..

I double check if I've locked the doors. Just as the door slams shut, I turn to face the bluish black darkness.
Street lights stand like loyal friends and greet me at regular intervals. The cold wind is relentless.
I rub my hands and walk a little faster. As I walk past the car park, the bright face of the moon greets me, full in the morning sky. I have a couple of mins before the bus gets here. And thats enough to get a few pictures.
They say the sun never sets on the British empire , or so I remember reading in history somewhere...
But this is the season, when it feels like the sun never rises here. The wind blows again as if to punish me for such cheekiness. Move on it seems to say. I smile to myself.
It;s dark when I leave home and it will be dark when I get here again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Around London..

A couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves at the Christmas market in South bank.  Early December, means the sun is gone before the day is done. It was grey and windy, cold as we crossed the bridge from Waterloo. But I had to stop for a few pictures. Enveloped by darkness, the city flickered in reflections across the Thames. In a distance the Blue wheel of the London eye , striking against the black night. The Big Ben stood some distance away. Below us were brightly lit boats moving like fireflies above the dark waters.

The market on that day played host to a choclate festival. We went around sampling the free goodies until our mouths tired of the bitter sweet taste of cocoa.

We quickly lapped up Mulled wine being handed out in little glasses. I love mulled wine and I have always wanted to try making some at home. Maybe I will this time around Christmas

Finally we get to the stalls which seem to be selling food. There's no sign of the friends we are supposed to be meeting. So we dig in. The stall selling German sausages has the longest queue. We go by the numbers as an indication of how good the food is. My husband is not disappointed. Being vegetarian, I hunt for other places to eat

From where we stand , on a bridge overlooking the market itself, we see lines of stalls, beautifully lit up in blue and white. There's a buzz in the cold december air.  It is so pretty. On days like these am really thankful for the phone in my camera. I have never been a fan of big phones. But the option to capture fleeting images, makes the bulk worthwhile.

We linger on for a while. When we finally meet our friends it is freezing outside. So we do the sensible thing and head for the warm confines of a pub. :)


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