Tag Archive: mausoleum


Goa: Soundscapes

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Old Goa houses many cathedrals including the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1594, the Basilica holds St. Francis Xavier’s body elevated in an encased silver casket. It is said that every ten years, this casket is lowered for devotees to pray next to. St. Francis Xavier arrived in Goa in 1542 with the intention of restoring Christianity to the Portuguese settlers and their illegitimate children. He began a Jesuit hermitage and after three years of catechizing children, he traveled to Indonesia to carry of with his work.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Basilica of Bom Jesus

We arrived by bus close to Basilica of Bom Jesus during the morning and walked to the Basilica in the hot morning sun. We could hear the singing of Christian songs as we approached from a block away and as we got closer, we could see a canopy or tented area that had been set up outside the cathedral where hundreds of people had gathered. After a relaxed security check, which confirmed that our knees and heads were covered, we went through the main entrance of the cathedral to find many people lined up to take communion.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Basilica of Bom Jesus

The main alter was gilded in gold filigree with angels and depictions of St Xavier’s life. Many people were actively praying on in pews while tourists were snapping shots. The feeling inside was very different than the singing outside where the service was taking place. In some ways it seemed almost “busy” and impersonal and I found myself feeling conscious of turning on my recording device. As I settled in though, listening to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, watching how the sunlight flooded through the side windows, the coolness of the pew beneath me, the soaring arch of the high baroque architecture, the feeling of the cathedral’s intention began to wave through me—the glory of God.
.


.

Britto’s on the Beach

View of Baga Beach

View of Baga Beach

It was our final day of our residency in India. We had spent the day presenting our chapters of Popular Culture in a Globalised India and then watched / listened to the famous speech Martin Luther King, Jr. had given, “I have a dream.” We learnt that our professor, Michael R. had been present for this infamous speech all those years ago. He described his circumstances around the event and when we watched, I found that was not alone as tears welled up in me—the connection between Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s vision of a free people, working in harmony and creating the change we wish to see in the world resonated loudly as the speech came to a close. It was a kind of silence you never want to leave for to break it through movement or words shatters the purity of the moment. It was like listening to the most beautiful piece of music—in that hushed moment before applause lies the whole lived experience of it, pregnant with possibility. We left our classroom to spend free time and planned to meet up for our final dinner together.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

I took the shuttle bus provided by our hotel to the beach to meet at Britto’s which is a restaurant right on the beach. With a wooden roof and a plethora of tables and chairs, a “c” shaped table had been reserved for all 17 of us. The smell of the Arabian Sea wafted in—a subtle scent of salty sewer (we had heard that Goa has been known to dump sewage into the ocean), the sound of birds, people talking and music playing in the background and watching the waves rolling in onto the shore made me feel grounded—reflective. As I was one of the first people there, I decided to conduct a soundscape and placed my recording device on the dinner table.

.


.

Map of Goa Soundscapes

Here is a map that shows the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Britto’s where our Last Supper took place in Goa. I hope that you have enjoyed listening and sharing in my experience.

Advertisements

Agra: Soundscapes

The Taj Mahal: From the Western side

Main Entrance to the Taj Mahal

Main Entrance to the Taj Mahal

We had rented a SUV to take us to Agra for the day from Delhi. We got on the expressway and found ourselves there within about three hours. A guide was there to meet us and give us a tour. We entered through the East gate and passed through security. I was stopped because of my recording device but our guide helped me negotiate getting through. We walked toward the main entrance gate and stopped under a tree to hear the history of the Taj Mahal and then proceeded into the main entrance way.

When we first entered it was dark and cool inside compared to the heat of the day. As we walked forward, the Taj slowly came into focus -a glowing white brilliance before us. I distinctly remember the first time I visited the Taj, I saw her beauty and immediately thought, “I can go home now. I’ve seen India.” Now almost a decade later, I know how naive that thought was because over four visits India’s many facets have slowly unfolded before me.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

Once you’re out of the main entrance foyer there were a thousand people trying to get their picture taken with the Taj as a backdrop. We patiently waited and did the same before proceeding down the right side. Our guide pointed out how the fountains in the pools of water were the original fountains. I am not sure if that is true but I would like to believe that back then they made things to last.

I was quite ill this day so as we approached the Taj I elected to not go in. I had been there 3 other trips and knew how crowded it could be inside. The sun shone brightly and seemed to beam down on us with its penetrating heat so I chose to sit in the shade on a bench to the left of the mausoleum with a clear view and few people. Birds zipped along from tree to tree as children ran past me. Looking back over the garden area, people moved in crowds it seemed, stopping to take pictures every few feet. It was a new experience for me to be inactive at this amazing wonder of the world. I clicked on my recording device and closed my eyes to hear the expression of the Taj.
.


.

The Taj Mahal: From inside the guest house (Eastern side)

View of the Taj from the guest house

View of the Taj from the guest house

I did not see my friends come out of the Taj Mahal after completing my soundscape recording, so I walked over to the eastern side to the guest house building. On my way there, there were hundreds of shoes piled high around signs asking people to place them on the racks—clearly there was no order to this chaos…and yet, I’ve never had my shoes stolen in India…not so far, anyway! I walked up the red steps and into the guest house. Immediately the temperature dropped about 10 degrees inside and I enjoyed watching and listening to tourists call out to hear the echo of their own voices. The structure of the building is such that there are repeated arches the length of the interior of the building and facing outwards, framed in multiple arches is the mausoleum in all its glory. I decided to record here in hope that I could capture the contrast of the red sandstone against the brilliance that bounces off the white marble stonework; the difference in quality sound and the potential absence of a guide talking. This point of view of the Taj Mahal and the calmness of the guest house is my favorite location within the whole complex.
.


.

Map of Agra Soundscapes

Here is a map that shows the two locations soundscapes were conducted in the Taj Mahal Complex. I hope that you have enjoyed listening and sharing in my experience.
.