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Buku Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

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Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

Author:Amitav Ghosh [Ghosh, Amitav]

Language: eng

Format: epub

ISBN: 9789353055448

Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited

Published: 2019-06-09T18:30:00+00:00

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Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

part two

Venice

The Ghetto

 

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Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

Author:Amitav Ghosh [Ghosh, Amitav] , Date: July 7, 2019

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Author:Amitav Ghosh [Ghosh, Amitav]

Language: eng

Format: epub

ISBN: 9789353055448

Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited

Published: 2019-06-09T18:30:00+00:00
part two

Venice

The Ghetto

That there is a strange kinship between Venice and Varanasi has often been noted: both cities are like portals in time; they seem to draw you into lost ways of life. And in both cities, as nowhere else in the world, you become aware of mortality. Everywhere you look there is evidence of the enchantment of decay, of a kind of beauty that can only be revealed by long, slow fading.

The kinship of the two cities is nowhere more apparent than in Venice’s getto: the walls that surround it, the narrow entrances that lead to it, and the slender, crooked houses – all of this reminded me of a part of Varanasi that I particularly love: the area around the Bindu Madhav temple, near Panchganga Ghat. There too you find seclusion and serenity in the midst of noisy multitudes; there too you have a sense of being amidst a community that follows age-old customs, unobserved by the world.

But there is one important difference: the Ghetto of Venice really is an island within an island, surrounded by water on all sides. An arched wooden bridge leads to a tunnel-like entrance, and this in turn opens into a large piazza, enclosed by tall houses and a wall. This square is relatively uncrowded; small groups of tourists sweep through from time to time, like leaves in a gale, but otherwise the place gives the impression of being home to many full-time residents. Washing can be seen, fluttering on lines that stretch between windows, and children of all ages are much in evidence, careening around on bicycles and skateboards.

Sitting on a bench, in a corner, I made an effort to imagine the square as it might have looked, three and a half centuries earlier, trying to envision it as it would have appeared to a traveller from Bengal. I tried to think of the Gun Merchant treading on those cobblestones, surrounded by people in red and yellow headgear – the colours enjoined on the inhabitants of the Ghetto by Venetian law, to mark them out as non-Christians. Warmed by the sun I began to daydream and suddenly the Gun Merchant seemed to appear before my eyes, tall, broad-shouldered, with a yellow turban, walking unhurriedly past on some errand. He glanced at me as he went by and his eyes were clear and untroubled. I could see why he would feel safe here, beyond the reach of Manasa Devi and the creatures and forces that she commanded. This, if any, was a place that would seem to be secure from non-human intrusion: apart from a few ornamental trees and plants there was almost nothing in sight that was not made by human hands. Here surely the Gun Merchant would have known himself to be beyond his tormentor’s grasp – yet, here too Manasa Devi had managed to reach him.

How?

What sort of wild creature could intrude upon a place like this?

As I was asking myself these questions a strange thing happened; I seemed to

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