We were in Khajuraho. A place that mesmerized me ever since I read about it during my high school years.
Khajuraho was infinitely more than what I had known. It was as if I were in an entirely different planet. A planet that was a peaceful and clean paradise, unlike the chaotic and polluted places we came from and through.
We were tourists.
Like all tourists, we happily walked around where once rich and powerful kingdoms existed.
Life was nasty, brutish, and short, to most, while it was a royal life to a few.
Where wars were fought. And people were killed.
Temples were built. And temples were demolished.
Art was created. And art was destroyed.
We tourists returned home.
This being poetry month, I wanted a poem that would speak to these emotions. I was reminded of a poem that I had read a while ago. It took me some time to track it down; time that was better spent than on Twitter. Am delighted that the poem is by Amichai, whose another poem I read and blogged two years ago.
Here is Amichai on tourists.
By Yehuda Amichai
Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb
And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
And lust after our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool, blue bathrooms.