The Idea of India
On The Milky Way To A Mosque, January 22nd 2010

Kodungallur, Kerala

The words are beginning to dance in my head, and I can’t stop them from doing so. I am standing at the site of what is purported to be the first mosque built on Indian soil – the Cheraman mosque in the city of Kodungallur, but all that is running through my head is this motto on a nearby high school hoarding:
<blockquote>’A Milky Way To The Horizon Of Education'</blockquote>
The metaphors, not quite mixed but smashed together, are now starting to take over my imagination, reducing me to a numbskull unable to stop laughing and start concentrating.

The sun is at the perfect angle, this unique mosque in this small city of Kodungallur, a mosque that faces East unlike all other mosques in the world that face West, is perfectly and appropriately lit. I had woken up at 7:00am this morning to make it to this location, my cameras ready, my timing perfect. But I had not anticipated this incredible road sign to a child’s future.

Visa The Idea Of India: The Kerala Journeys Progress Map på en större karta

The questions keep coming and with a tone that insists that they are not to be answered, but simply worded to exorcise them!

Is the Milky Way like the highway?

Are there food stops on the way?

What is a horizon doing in space?

Why do I need a Milky Way to get to any horizon?

Do I have to pay tolls?

Is there a horizon in education?

The mind continues to ask foolish questions, and I continue to waste time. I will find no images here. This once lovely little mosque, now rather conventionally rebuilt in cement and tall minarets, will not be photographed. Named for the Keralan king who converted to Islam when he dreamt of the Prophet’s (PBUH) miralce of the moon, this mosque’s location has become impossible to stand in.

I have been reduced to muttering inanities to myself as I make the slow walk of shame back to my hotel.

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