Sunday, February 08, 2009
Chotu Motu in Paris I: At the Pantheon
Chotu Motu walking in Latin Quarter somewhere.
"Oh there you see it"
"What do I see?"
"What about it?"
"We are going there"
"Don't think its on our way"
"Just a few minutes off"
"But its uphill and we are carrying stuff. Can't we do this later?"
"No, I have missed it so many times already. This time I have to go see it. I will carry your bag if you want"
"Are you offering to carrying my backpack?"
"Its not that heavy"
"You are serious!"
"Of course I am. Give na"
"Dude, what is this place?"
"That dome place. Some church type thing no"
"Oh, I see. That explains the indifference. That's the Pantheon"
"Which I thought we saw in Rome like ages ago. Wasn't that when you started crying?"
"I remember this very clearly. You started swearing and crying because you read somewhere that Bernini melted the bronze at the Pantheon for that altar piece at the Vatican"
"The bastards! That still makes my blood boil"
"Bill darling, anything that makes your blood boil is serious entertainment for me. Is there anything similar in this Pantheon? Then we will surely go see"
"Dude, you really don't know"
"Don't know what?"
"About this Paris ka Pantheon"
"I know its like the Abbey where everyone is buried and all. So what? I have no intention of paying good money to see junta ka graves all over the city"
"Who wants to see graves? We are nearly there now. Chal"
"This is slightly scary. I have never seen you so enthu about anything"
"Don't be scared. Come, lets go in"
"Dude, its like some 8 euros. At current exchange rate, that's 8 quid. I don't want to see graves and I have seen way too many basilicas to last me a lifetime. I see a Boulangerie right here. Maybe I will wait here"
"Will you shut up and come up?"
At this point, I was too curious to give up. So I trudged up the stairs to the basilica. Pantheon. Whatever. Chotu bought tickets. This obviously is a totally new experience for me - Chotu buying anything. I was speechless. I followed him inside. He stopped and I promptly bumped into his backpack.
"Can't you like..?" It was evident that he couldn't really hear anything. He was staring at something at the centre of the cathedral. Intently. I stared at him for a moment and then turned to look at what he was looking at.
Dang! Enlightenment! Totally forgotten this thing was at the Pantheon. Anyway, might as well make full capital out of it.
"What is it?"
"Can you hear me?"
"What is that contraption doing in a cathedral?"
Chotu heard me this time.
"What do you think it is?"
"Its like a giant well, let me think now..."
"Don't go there. Not the time for profanity"
"Profanity? I was going to say pendulum. What's profane about that?"
"The hell you were"
"Of course I was"
"Don't you think its time you shut up?"
"Are you going to wait for an entire hour?"
"Half an hour at the least"
"Okay, I might as well go see some graves"
"I can't believe you don't want to see this"
"Who said I don't want to see it?"
"You are going to see some silly graves you just said"
"But I am seeing this. I will come back and see it on the same plane once the earth rotates around itself for a while. What I don't want is to sit around and worship it"
So I went off and saw some graves. Funny things they have done - like putting Voltaire and Rousseau right across from each other. After death do us part types. And obviously, first (only?) woman resident.
When I came back from the crypt, Chotu was still sitting there staring at the pendulum.
"We can go now"
"If you want to do puja and all, go ahead"
"Its only a pendulum", Chotu said and walked towards the door.
"I wouldn't have known. For a while, I thought you had gotten religion"
"Come on now"
"Seriously dude. Next I know, you would start reading the book"
"I don't read books where I need Google for every line. Its not like the Name of the Rose or anything"
"But this is about middle school physics. This kind of religion is what we need, don't you see?"
"If you say so. Dude, look, Rue laplace!"
"What? Place is a square. There is no rue called la Place"
"Not La Place. Laplace. Rue Laplace. We are in the univ area now"
"Why does that name seem vaguely familiar?"
"Vaguely familiar. The man who just had an orgasm just by looking at Foucault's pendulum is asking me who Laplace is. Do I have to remind you of Fourier and Laplace transforms now?"
"Oh that chap. That's what you EE people do. Not us"
"We don't do much with Laplace. Anyway, now that you have proved your geekery...."
"My geekery?! I don't remember anything other than the names. And if I may remind you, I wasn't the one who was worshipping Foucault's Pendulum like a moment ago!"
"You don't understand. This is not about geekery"
"No. This is about what you can do with these big places of worship which do not serve any ostensible purpose. Its about how a secular outlook can transform even the most useless of places to be centres of scientific learning. Every kid who goes into that building will have an understanding, a real one, of the world around him. That is cool. Whatever you think of it"
Yes, that's one of the longest Chotu has ever spoken. So I am speechless again for a moment.
"You do realise that what you arguing for and are so happy about is the Revolution?"
"If it takes a revolution, it takes a revolution. I have no issues with that"
Ah. Finally, the Bong speaks. And all I had to do was to get him to Paris.
Bonus picture: Chotu Motu on stilts in Paris. (Feanor: That is NOT romantic, just tall)
 Famous last words. That is precisely what we ended up doing. More grave stories coming up soon.