The Vampire Mania 

Photos adapted from original pictures featured in the article
For someone who’s not into vampires, I sure read, post and talk a lot about them. From the time I was ten, there was always someone talking about Dracula. Usually a kid my age. But there were a lot of Dracula spoofs, and the legend was somehow always there. 

Dracula scared me. I think it was the biting thing. Though on some deeper level, I’m sure it also had everything to do with your soul being damned. I never believed in God being the white guy with the long beard, and there being different religions was never a problem. Because ultimately we all believed in the same thing, a benign energy that guides us, an energy we can’t fully comprehend, so we give it different names in accordance with our respective cultural backgrounds. But to willingly cut yourself off from this benign energy and live your life in darkness, eternal damnation – that was too much to handle. 

This was way before the Vampires-that-sparkle-in-the-sunlight craze, though I dare say that most likely would have made me laugh at it all. Plus, we all knew Dracula was from Romania, and there were a lot of Romanians around growing up. While we never suspected them of being in league with any vampires, it still brought Dracula’s homeland very close. “The forest spells mystery and comfort to us,” a German actor once told me. And we had Latin in school, we knew what Transylvania meant. Interestingly, the fact that my own father was born and raised there never factored in. Though, it’s true that in the beginning I didn’t know. He was just Hungarian. There was a country by that name. Anything else I really didn’t care about. 

Later I discovered Edgar Allan Poe. Because a teacher made a comment about how the poem I’d written about the statue on Gellért Hill sounded like something Poe might have written. It’s never been Freedom Statue to me, or even the Statue of Liberty / Liberty Statue, always The Statue on Gellért Hill, or – which was more usual – The Statue. I hated that teacher (long before he changed my grade from an A to a B on the day grades were finalized because I wasn’t there. The fact that I had an eye infection wasn’t something he cared about), so I hated Poe as well. 

But I did love Gary Oldman, and Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves reminded me of my teens, so I watched Coppola’s Dracula. And that’s when I got the message. Love! He did it for love. His wife had damned herself by committing suicide when an instigator told her that her husband had died, throwing herself off the tower no less, so he’d literally be damned to be with her. And he’d make damn sure he had all the power again to ensure she’d have everything he’d always promised her. I liked that angle. I liked it a lot. So much so that I looked into it further. My interest in religions, faiths, and what others believe factored in as well. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian practically fell in my lap at the airport when I needed a book to read. Or it called to me, whichever version you prefer. And by then, I knew exactly what fascinated me with the subject. I’d always been interested in how people viewed and interpreted damnation, so vampires, like Judas Iscariot, were high on the list. 

I also have to thank a Film Studies teacher in college for pointing out why female vampires don’t really work, and why the genre was so popular among the Victorians. Because it represented the Unspeakable Act everyone still thought about. 

The following article showed up on my Facebook wall, and it is interesting to see that while Styria had its own legends, Transylvania (though Vlad Tepes – a Cross-Cultural Kid himself if you look at his history – was from Wallachia, but something connected to the woods just sounds so much better) won in the end. Might there be some truth to that German concept after all, and the forest really does spell mystery and comfort all at once? Will be interesting to explore other legends. 

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. we Indians have very few ghosts… English books, movies taught me about their varieties 🙂

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    1. So what do you do for creepy, scary, creatures? I mean, what in earth do you scare the kids with? 😁

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      1. Sharmishtha says:

        we read English books! 🙂 Honestly indian ghosts are clowns in comparison to European ghosts.

        few examples- ebony black, huge head, three story tall and of course with burning eyes and sharp teetch! That is the most common “ghost” from my childhood days! Believe me, they scared too! But we had a very strong belief in God’s super power so … that sort of kept us alive during those scary days.

        If you go for traditional Indian ghosts you will see they resemble human beings and mostly do petty harms, sometimes possess but are very easy to be exorcised, sometimes kill but only chanting God’s name will make them run like hell! a child of these days wont be scared by traditional indian ghosts 🙂

        then there is an invisible ghost who misguides lost travelers with a lamp and drowns them to death.

        Another one calls them out of their homes after dusk and again either strangles them or drowns them to death. These are dangerous because if you once response to their call they hypnotize you. Only another person will be able to save you if you are lucky! 🙂

        There are witches who cast black magic but no terribly scary or violent ghost like a vampire or werewolf.

        Indian ghosts are babies in comparison to their western brethren!

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  2. OK, the three-storey-tall one would have scared me just because of the height factor. There was an old East German movie based on a fairy tale called Heart of Stone. Literally translated the title means The Cold Heart. I mean that was the German title. Some guy who collected hearts in mason jars and kept them in a lab in a castle. Where we lived in Germany had a lot of castles (even though we were nowhere close to the East), so it was pretty scary.

    My mom’s country had an urban legend of people being buried and then knocking on the window of their own home during the wake. My mom was always quick to explain that they’d been pronounced clinically dead, and the heart started beating again. She explained it far better. That part was funny. What wasn’t so funny was imagining yourself dying in a cold, dark grave never getting out, yet fully awake.

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  3. Sharmishtha says:

    I agree, it will be a horrific experience, and I am afraid that none will be alive to tell the hell they went through before actually dying down there in that darkness, horrible will be an understatement! awfully scary!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharmishtha says:

    ya know something hilarious? my village home is orthodox indian home, ok? we used to go there once during Durgapuja, for five days, the rest of the year the house stayed locked so the amenities were just the way they were for centuries. That meant the toilets were almost two hundred feet away from the living quarters, surrounded by big trees, bushes and ruins.

    There was an infamous ghost story about that toilet- once one of my grandfather/his cousins went there late at night and saw a man three stories high, he just crossed the campus and disappeared in river bed in two or three steps.

    Even as a young woman when I went there after nightfall that story certainly crossed my mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! You’re braver than I am. My friend and I once saw Jesus or the Devil by the woods (we couldn’t decide). We were seven and in her garden. It was dusk. Saw a man by the woods close to the house. He just disappeared into the trees.

      You know which one really scares me? The black-eyed kids / people. Google it. I’m not looking for pictures late at night with the window open and a “little forest” outside my window. 7×7 feet of nature, mainly trees, already counts as a forest here.

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  5. I doubt that! I am as brave as a chicken but my ego was too high to admit that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Same here. About the chicken part. And because I was frequently the youngest growing up, the older kids always found stories to scare me. It worked, too.

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