Soulful symmetry

The hard disk has a lot of snaps. Adjectives don’t do a complete job of describing these. Although, it can safely be said that ‘100s of snaps’ or ‘1000s of snaps’ etc are improper qualifiers. Several of them I gloss over. Part upset. More embarrassed of me wasting of a grand moment with an inept handling of the camera. Leaving me with an image that distorts far more than what it reveals and reducing a moment that should last in the mind to another passing one that is glossed over with ease.

There are some pictures that sit pretty on the hard drive. I can keep staring at them and get drawn back to the time I clicked them. Only some. Truth be told, a concoction of luck, pluck and a decent camera make it possible.  As the missus thoughtfully observed once, even as I was all chuffed looking at a photograph of a raging bull that I had clicked sometime ago, “Any donkey with a DSLR thinks attributes much less to the DSLR than what it deserves”.

My only deviant answer to that question was, ‘that is not a donkey, as you can see. That is a bull.”

Her cryptic response which said much more than what it said was, “Ah, Bull”

While that may be the general tenor and disposition, there are moments when I catch a whiff silent admiration as she looks at some of my clicks. Just a whiff. Of course, the slow chap that I am, I notice that there was a whiff that I should have caught,  long after the whiff passes by. As with most things in life, these whiffs don’t come announcing with cymbals and bugles. ( Only Weddings happen that way).

These are moments that happen. For example, when the missus looks at a snap that I have clicked for three milliseconds longer than the normal two milliseconds she usually reserves for my pictures, I reaffirm my faith that all is not lost and there is still hope for me. If she tosses her head to a side and examines it like a kid examining a new math textbook, with interest laden disinterest, I know that I have nudged my image a notch higher in her mind.

This was one such image which she even looked at twice. The Rameswaram Temple photo, as I call it. With a ‘The’.  Naturally, I had to share.


Rameswaram. The temple itself is as old as the 17 century, in its current form. In an earlier form, from the 11th century. If you have to see the interplay of light, symmetry, art and sheer scale of imagination on one scale and minute attention to detail on another, replicated multiple times, this is the place to go.

Go you must, with a truck load of time and with a desire to soak up what the place has to offer. Beyond the Gods and the pilgrims. Even as countless pilgrims scurry around running from one temple tank to another dripping water, you could soak up the grandeur of the magic of yesteryear. Of a way of life that paid attention to detail, imagination, symmetry and yet was comprehensively grounded anchored to ancient practices. All in the name of God.

If you just sit there, as I did and let the imagination roam to think what it must have taken to put all this together, pulling off such a grand structure that continues to awe and inspire for centuries, a few things happen. At a spiritual level, something happens. Its a feast for your eyes. Its a bounty for imagination. In a completely indescribable way, it is refreshing.

If it gets the missus to give it a second glance, me thinks God is in his elements. Whatsay? 😉

Rameshwaram diaries

The sleepy town of Rameshwaram has many facets to it. That the old man Ram was there with his army and the supposed bridge that they built to Sri Lanka is perhaps its chief claim to fame. It being considered one of the holiest of cities quite obviously translates to hordes of pilgrims.

With the proximity to Sri Lanka and it attendant consequences, the arc lights never go off here. There is always a refugee boat that lands. Or an LTTE man that rose from the sea. Or the Sri Lankan navy shooting down a hapless fisherman ! Something or the other.

The splendour and architecture of the Ramanatha swamy temple is best masked by the simplicity of its gopuram. All in plain white. Standing straight and simple. Amongst the many facets that it conceals is the 1000 pillar corridor which screams a silent yet eloquent beauty with all interplay between light and darkness that blossoms into a collage of a splendid magnitude can arrest you. Forever.

The communist party showing the way to Lord Ram’s feet was an ultimate picture !

Some distance away is Ramar Patham. (Ram’s Feet). A smaller temple that plays host to an imprint of a feet. Purported to be those of lord Ram and rightly so. The story spices up the belief very well that there is a mile between you and the d in doubt. A pot bellied priest chants the virtues of worshipping those feet and also slips in a message to ‘help’ the priests themselves. Its but natural, you see ! Especially, when said in the same breath !

The other reason that Rameshwaram is frequented is to perform rituals for the dead. An assortment of rituals, which by itself can be an intricate lesson in permutation and combination and math of such order. The net result could be a huge subtraction in what was there in the wallet !

This is one money spinner that’s not going to fade away in a jiffy. For death is but natural and such beliefs stay on. The paraphernalia of all those articles that are supposedly required to please the dead person’s spirits, can well resemble an annual shopping list of a whole neighbourhood ! From the barber to the beguiled tourist : all contribute to the bee like buzz in the air !

Mention must be made of the Pamban bridge, now named after one of the Gandhis. This times it is Indira. (I think). Built on the sea, much before the Bandra-Worli sea link. Well used now, every single lamp post is still there. Of the lights that were supposed to be atop the lamp posts, well it’s a different story !

It’s a sleepy town. Down in the down south. But then, it keeps many awake. All through. Think about it. History. Mythology. Architecture. Strategic defense. Death. Life. Living. Gods. Tourism. The sea and the ocean. All in one place.

Very few places that can boast of that assortment !

Big Deal !

There are some parched seasons. And some floods. And there are inbetweens. That’s the case with everything. Money. Happiness. People. People, this seems to be the season for travel. No. No complaints at all.

Travel took us to Tanjore. Down in the deep south. A kind friend and unfettered kindness meant we got to see some fabulous heritage monuments ! As usual, they left an indelible mark.

What the kings managed and accomplished in the past is no mean joke. They built tall buildings out of single rocks. Multiple rocks. Different buildings. Layers of architecture. Architecture with waves, folds, dramatic cuts and sincere corners. Without safety helmets, cement, mortar, B.E degrees or capitation fees.

Like this temple : The Brihadeeshwara temple.

This tower for instance, all of 216 feet tall. Made of granite. A 1300 odd years ago ! No cranes. No nothing.
Some splendid architecture, that deserves a separate blog. Leave alone a post.

But, but….‘One more post on architecture and history….’, the missus had remarked the other day. It has been my experience, that whenever she let silence to do sentence completion, the effects have been, well rather loud !

So, lets talk about something else. Like the chart that the amiable chap who showed us around at the Big temple. He insisted on speaking English, had such charts to show. Infact many such charts to show.

On that note, please do well to notice, Raja Raja Chola, the chap that built this temple, had 14 wives ! ’14 members’ he says ! Now, that sounds like a committee! Fourteen! FOURTEEN ! Imagine.

But then, suddenly the Brihadeeswara temple suddenly seems to be no big deal. The one woman in my life pushes me enough to get up from bed, go to work, get back and powers my completion of a sundry assortment of errands that makes my chest swell with pride often ! ( Notice people. I say ‘My’ chest )

But with Fourteen times that push…. well the big temple, is a sure possibility !

In other news, the big mouthed me, let that thought loose in the vicinity of the sharp ears of the missus. She has let silence do the talking since then.

hmm !

Of Temples & Washrooms !

You are going to look at that image and purse your lips and wonder whats the big deal. After all a picture of a temple from Tamil Nadu, is common sight ! As common as a politician making tall promises during elections. You get the idea, right ?

Well, this is the Shree Navaneethakrishnan Temple in Madurai. Its not one of those gigantic structures. Its just another temple. Frequented by the faithful, used as a landmark to navigate by the newcomer and clicked on camera by a insipid blogger.

So, whats with it.

Here’s what i thought was enough of a big deal. Look closer at the temple Gopuram. And this is what you see.

And right there, is Mahatma Gandhi. With one leg above, above Lord Vishnu. And the other over Hanuman. On the other side there is Jawaharlal Nehru.

Atop an established temple’s gopuram, well, well,well, that indeed was interesting to me !

That they were revered enough to be placed on par with the Gods, says something. Something really profound about that time, that age and them !!! This was a different era indeed. And the folks that were there back then, were made of a different mettle.

Beginning today, India votes. The reactions to the pitches and planks of politicians and their parties have ranged for overwhelming laughter to ‘mild amusement’ to ‘mild disturbance’ to ‘deep consternation’ !

Let me get this straight.

1.Who you should vote for, is your choice.
2. To exercise that choice or to throw up your hands and enjoy a holiday : your choice again !
3. To make a considered, well thought through decision or going by narrow compulsions : your choice again.
4. To actively campaign or passively exercise choice…. well, this is a free country. Its your choice again.

So, it all boils down to you & your choice. Except this : What picture i leave on my blog, continues to remain, my choice !

So what if the picture was found in the washroom of an educational institution ?

PS : My political views remain private. This is not in support of the Congress, BJP, UPA, NDA, DMK, MDMK, ABCD, EFGH, IJKL, MNOP, QRS, TUV, WXYZ of their offshoots / prepoll post poll alliances thereoff.

This is in support of praying hard and using the flush. OK ?

Meenakshi Amman Temple !

For all those who asked for pictures…presenting the Meenakshi Amman Temple ! Full details of the place is here..

These two pictures were clicked during an earlier visit.

These pillars and stone know each of my travails. My joys. My sorrows. For it is here that i spoke in silence. To the voice within. In silence. To peace. Part in belief. Part in practice. And more importantly, all in reverence and peace !

The Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai, is a must see. So, if you haven’t seen this place. Pack your bags ! Its a significant piece of architecture that i have never stopped being in awe of.

Built about three hundred years ago, when there were no cranes, no lifts, no cement, no sophisticated architects and 3D experts with expertise in Maya, it is a celebration of whats possible ! And yes, a sight to behold. The internet will supply you with inputs and information. I am just sharing a few pictures that i clicked !

Temple tower covered with scaffolding now

The temple is under renovation. All towers are covered with scaffolding and presumably the architecture on the towers are getting a new coat of paint. It will be a sight to behold when the scaffolding comes off. For sure !

Painting work on !
The dry temple pond and the dual painted steps to the pond

The temple cow just outside the sanctum sanctorum. Well, the colourful drape on the cow has been sponsored by Sivasakthi Bakery ! But that’s besides the point. The rituals are quite something ! Rich and full of pageantry !

A passageway with a painted designs for the cieling, Tirukural verses on one side, and sun rays streaming in through pillars on the other ! I stand there. Absorbing each moment. I dont know for how long !

A pillar in the South Tower. The camera and my own limited photography skills convey a very small fraction of the beauty of the place. It has to be seen and experienced. So, go ahead. And make that trip. If there is any other information / help that you need, do write in !

So, I step out after a couple of early morning hours in the temple.

As has been the practice with me for a few years now, i buy trinkets here. I pay. And the shop keeper says, ‘Rhamba Danks’. I hear it as Rhamba Dance ! And then in a minute i realise he was actually thanking me with a “Romba Thanks” ( Thank you very much ). I wonder whats come of me. To think of “Ramba Dance” ! At this time of the hour. With this setting. Huh !

On yet another note, there is this guide, who speaks in an American accent with a stiff Tamil dialect, that i can hear in the background. And he tells tourists that the Temple was built to keep the economy going. “Building a large structure gave employment to many thousands of people for many many years”, he says, rolling his R.

I notice that tourists nodding their heads vigorously. I wonder if these guides adapt their ‘presentations’ to current contexts. But, this theory seems plausible.

That is the solution ! Are world leaders of the recession hit world listening ? I wonder. For now, I hurry home. I am hungry. Already.