Cejcs 07 2011. indd



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2 CentralEuropeanJournalCanadian 7-2011-1 6

sians was a sacred space that was supposed to bring together inside its rectangle four parts representing the four parts of the world, with a space more sacred than the others that were like an umbilicus, the navel of the world at its center (the basis and water fountain were there) and all the vegetation of the garden was supposed to [...]. (26; emphasis added)
Yet, spiritual practice is not exclusively conned to the space of the garden in Mistry’s novel.
Gustad follows his friend to a Catholic church before they go to Crawford Market. It has become a kind of routine for them On Sunday mornings, Gustad would set off with Malcolm for Crawford Market, but their fi rst stop was always the church where Malcolm attended Mass
(36). After not seeing each other for years, the two friends bump into each other again at the marketplace by accident. They decide to go to the famous Mount Mary Church in the suburbs of Bandra. This is a place where many pilgrims go each year with the hope that the sick will be cured with the help of Virgin Mary. The amount and the variety of the devotional objects to be found there defi es imagination. It is a memorable location for people from all faiths where they pray in their own idiosyncratic ways.
Being both a communal and personal place, the church is another vital place marked out within the novel with it its own meanings and activities. But, it is also an enclosed space, one which contrasts with the ocean to which Gustad repairs to enjoy a sense of freedom evoking childhood memories. Ina sense, this unconfi ned space recalls Relph’s perceptual space, the realm of diff erent emotional encounters with the space of the earth, sea and the sky or with built and created places (10). He feels calm and serene by the ocean, where he can restore himself before he has to return to the hustle and bustle of Bombay.
As we have seen, the city’s clearly delineated spatial organization is vividly described throughout the novel permeating the narrative throughout. As Wilson observes “Mistry has away of painting a description of a scene and putting the reader in the middle, so that one
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39
Central European Journal of Canadian Studies Revue d’Etudes Canadiennes en Europe Centrale articles
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articles
Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
feels as if he/she is actually seeing sights, actually hearing the sounds, feeling, touching, and even smelling the environment that Mistry brings alive (1). The story moves through the busy spaces of the city to create a mimesis of the real world. Crawford Market and Chor Bazaar are social places where people live mainly their pragmatic and everyday life. For Gustad both of them are personalized because they constantly make him remember the times when he, together with his father, regularly visited these places. His father was accompanied at least by one servant, arriving and leaving by taxi [...]” (32) while Gustad can rely only on his meager wallet (32). He felt intimidated by Crawford Market. [...] For Gustad it had no charms (32). Chor Bazaar is a crowded place with amaze of narrow lanes and byways [...] And so many people everywhere - locals, tourists, foreigners, treasure hunters, antique collectors, junk dealers, browsers (127). His father used to buy books here and Gustad follows in his footsteps and often stops at the bookstall to purchase books so that he can enrich his collection at home. It is a unique place where cultures and business live side by side. As Leckie observes “Mistry creates characters rambling from street to market, many voiced, containing the place as part of who they are (230). Several lengthy passages are devoted to evoke the pressing urgency of the diverse locations the reader becomes part of the throbbing pulse of this metropolitan complexity. Place names or toponyms are of paramount importance in the large comprehensive space of Bombay. Scholars widely agree on the signifi cance of place names in their respective areas of toponymic studies. Cox Harvey fi rmly asserts that our sense of identity as a society is mediated to us through the names of the places and occasions with the history of our people
(422). The Parsis’ history in a decolonized India is a clear casein this regard. Dinshawji’s anger is unambiguously articulated when he says Names are so important I grew upon Lamington Road. But it has disappeared, in its place is Dudasaheb Bhadkhamkar Marg. [...]. So what happens to the life I have lived Was I living the wrong life, with all the wrong names Will I get a second chance to live it all again, with all these new names (96). The dislocations produced by the historical shift from a colonized space marked by the names of the colonizer and the new names that mark independence induce profound ruptures in memory and identity. Experiencing the shift in the place names chosen for the streets sensitizes the community’s historical awareness of the radical transformation in their everyday lives. In the past their experiences of places, together with their names, privileged multivocality. The Parsis felt close to the British colonizers and they were indeed a favoured group by them thus independence produced even more radical adjustments for them as a community For inasmuch as the names of the streets and places change, the place of the community in contemporary India is on the agenda to the same extent that the old names of places vanish, the Parsis feel displaced
(Genetsch, 139). Williams believes that “[Dinshawji] experiences the rewriting of the map of his neighbourhood as an interruption in his self-presence. A life by another name would not be the same life (57).
Genetsch’s observation reminds us of another naming episode in the narrative. The new doctor, Dr Paymaster has not changed the board of the old dispensary where he started to do practice. After awhile, he manages to do so with an increased income but his endeavours are not appreciated by the community. This cultural landscape includes the two movie houses and The House of Cages, a well-frequented brothel. Not too far from here we can fi nd
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articles
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articles
Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
40
a restaurant which is like a labyrinth it provides its guests with clandestine intimacy The restaurant was crowded downstairs. The waiters spreading the usual odours and noises as they dashed back and forth. [...] Upstairs, the private rooms were empty. A fl ight of stairs as a ladder led to the mezzanine (216). Among the indoor public places mentioned should be made of the two hospitals, too one in Bombay and one in Delhi. These also become highly personalized for Gustad; in each case the place is associated with death, the deaths of his two best friends. They, Dinshawji and Jimmy, fi nd their fi nal peace in the Tower of Silence where they are buried according to Zoroastrian traditions. Gentesch says The elements, especially water, earth and fi re, are divine emanations, and have to be kept pure from defi lement. The so-called Towers of Silence were erected in order to grant the purity of these elements. On top of these buildings the Parsis have their deceased eaten by vultures
(142). The Tower of Silence has the same function as a cemetery but it is diff erent since the dead bodies taken there are consumed by vultures. What Foucault says about cemeteries in general, however, holds true for this special place, too. It is a strange heterotopia” (25). The cemetery is a place unlike ordinary cultural spaces (25). The Parsi community in our age is split over this long tradition of theirs. Bank clerks in the novel discuss it heatedly in the canteen, and ironically enough it is Dinshawji, who wants to end the debate by a joke. He says, Better that my dear domestic vulture eats me up than the feathered ones. With her I have a guarantee – she at least won’t scatter pieces of my meat allover Bombay (93). Mukherjee thinks that the Parsi method of disposal of the dead is not only environmentally sound but also suggests a profound acceptance of the interconnectedness of all life (149). Mis- try gives along description of the ceremony that is held when Dinshawji dies. (306-312)
Malashri Lal emphasizes that Some rituals of sacred space are the most carefully guarded secrets of a culture. [...] The philosophic dimensions of this ritual are diffi
cult for non-Parsis to understand. Mistry is one of those few writers to break the silence about the Tower of Silence (66). Jimmy’s Muslim friend, Ghulam Mohammed, arrives to be with him on his last journey, but he is not allowed inside this sacred area because it is strictly reserved for the Parsi: Your Parsi priests don’t allow outsiders like me to go inside, sadly remarks Ghu- lam (391). It is only the nassasalers carrying the brier to the well of the vultures who can go inside. Only men are admitted to the prayer room, so it is a gendered place just like the

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