The church attracted me back this morning - quieter now. More serene. An opportunity to be more attentive to the building and its monuments.
The Luz church has memorials in at least three languages - including one which I first took to be Armenian (there is an old Armenian church in Chennai which I visited when last here), but the church insists is Aramaic.
Aramaic is the language Christ is believed to have spoken. It is still used in the liturgy of a small strand within the Thomas Christians in India - those who believed that an apostle, 'Doubting' Thomas, brought the gospel to south India a few decades after the crucifixion. Thomas was, his followers insist, martyred near Chennai. The basilica which is said to mark his burial spot is only a mile or two distant. The Luz church, as you might expect of a Portuguese foundation, does not appear to venerate St Thomas.
From the Luz church in Mylapore, I headed the short distance to Chennai's crowning glory - the Marina beach. It's a vast slab of sand, once the venue of nationalist meetings, recently of angry demonstrations (against a Supreme Court ban on the traditional Tamil sport of bull taming - the protestors won) and now just a place to chill. Not that this is the word which most comes to mind when promenading in the full south Indian sun. Several of the most eminent Tamil political leaders - including Jayalalithaa, chief minister of Tamil Nadu who died a few weeks ago - are buried close by in what has become a place of pilgrimage. We'll come back to that theme in future posts.
This lone beachcomber was collecting some small molluscs in the shallow water - he showed me what was in his bag. They were still wriggling, and looked like fleshy, over-sized cockroaches. Perhaps, to be charitable, they were small crabs. And perhaps, to be even more absurdly optimistic, they are for use as fishing bait rather than in seafood restaurants.
The saddest sight was this giant turtle - I thought for a moment, when I saw its gaping mouth, that it was still alive. But no. And it had been partly disembowelled. This pie dog knew it had found something of value, something which offered sustenance - but not what to do with it. And it better watch out. That turtle looks minded to deliver a sharp ankle nip.
As to my principal purpose here, teaching broadcast journalism ... I meet the class for the first time tomorrow.
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