Sunday, June 08, 2008


We had been to one of our trips to the Holy City of Jerusalem, when the guide guided us to one of the many souvenir shops whose shop-keeper obviously was in cahoots with this guide. He even offered a mighty six percent discount on the loot. No wonder we seemed to be the only customers. There were small bottles of 'Holy Water', presumably from the Jordan, Olive oil that was being passed off as 'Anointing Oil','The Via Dolorosa' (with its fourteen stations) wall hangings in all shapes and sizes, an array full of crosses, key chains of crosses, magnets of crosses, pendants of crosses, basically lots and lots of crosses. I just ambled around in the shop, picking up over priced curious curios and souvenirs to while away time with no intention of purchasing, when I chanced upon a ashtray in the typical blue and white ceramic style of the Turks and the Israelis. It just wasn't any ashtray that you could pick off the streets, there was something uniquely holy about it. A nice mosaic of the Dome of the Rock, the Western wall lay there in its centre. I looked at other versions with the Coenaculum, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and many other religious edifices dominating the others. It came as quite a surprise to me that there was also small sachets of mud that proclaimed- “Mud from the Holy Land” placed neatly nearby. Call it Jewish ingenuity to make money but to be frank it seemed more like holy muck and it left me with a great doubt, would the smoke from the cigarette placed in the tray be dutifully christened as 'Holy Smoke'?

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