Monsoons are here. It has been almost 5 days since it began raining. It is lovely to see the sky in so many different hues and shades. Surprisingly the roads have been not as bad as I thought they would be. But, the quality of driving on the road is apalling. Everyone is jamming in – its almost as though the rules of the road have been forgotten. Ricks, cars, cycles and pedestrians – and lets’ not forget the truck tempos are all equally boorish. I feel sorry for the traffic policemen – they have their hands more than full!
From Dakshin Chitra on the first day we proceeded to Mahaballipuram -? I had been there as a child, almost 25 years ago. The first thing that strikes you is that? the roads are brilliant. Not a single bump or pot hole in the entire journey from Chennai. None of the suburbs of Chennai felt the way that a Andheri or a Goregaon do – especially with the level of incomplete roadworks in progress here. The second thing that strikes you is the cleanliness – it is so incredibly neat and clean. No littering, no junk. The streets of Mahaballipuram are chockablock with sculpture workshops. Artisans and craftsmen create and their work from here.? A good piece of advice that i got in Chennai was to visit Poompoohar check out prices, and try and get atleast 40% lower here. But, i didn’t really go to Mahaballipuram as a shopper. Lot’s of places to catch here – The Pancha rathas, Arjuna’s Penance, The Shore Temple, Krishna Mandapa … and of course the thriving street life. When you see Govardhan Giridhari as a relief in single wall – the mind marvels at the artistry and the love that the sculptors had both to the material and to ‘God’. There is so much to do, that it will probably take a week to just explore as a tourist. As a mytho and history buff … probably a whole lot longer…
And she did too. Lovely little necklaces, corals and keychains – by the shore of [tag]Mahaballipuram[/tag]. She gifted me a necklace for taking her photograph and then proceeded to sell me a whole array of junk that i didn’t need. But, she was such a commanding persoanality and had such excellent selling skills that a whole bunch of friends of mine are going to get corals and shells for presents. As SR put it….. what a handsome woman!
Visiting [tag]Chennai[/tag] was an impulse. Patti just turned 83 – and I wanted to spend some time with her. Eversince I returned to India in 94, I have been promising her that I would come down and spend a week with her – but it wasn’t to be. One fine day I was sitting in office and before you could say Chennaipattnam – i had booked a return trip. I had actually wanted to get to Munnar for a walking holiday, I ended up in Chennai for a mini pilgrimage. My grandmother [tag]Jet Airways[/tag] was late by an hour. I had booked online a week earlier and got my return for around 5800 -which by all accounts is a good price. The Jet Price was about a few hundred more than Deccan or Spice. The former, I had heard nightmare expereinces about and the latter didn’t fly direct to Chennai. There are somethings that don’t change about Jet. The accent of their personnel for one. The air stewardess had an incomprehensible accent that managed to maul two languages. Just one odd thing – no one in Jet bothered to check photo ID with the e-ticket that I had – both on the forward and return journey. While i appreciate the vote of faith, I would be very unhappy if a terrorist got in using the same method. The first day chitti - mom’s younger sister – took us down to [tag]Dakshin Chitra[/tag] – a few acres of traditional south indian heritage from the colonial period. Home preserved as they were a couple of centuries ago. Located on the Muttukadu road on the way to Mahaballipuram, Dakshin Chitra is a labour of love. Dwellings of various communties are painstakingly recreated – brick brick transported from elsewhere. There are Chettiar, Syrian Christian, Brahmin, Weaver, and Agricularalist homes that are built to scale. Step over the kollam decorated steps and you are transported to another time Traditional Kollam (rice powder drawings) at Dakshin Chitra Dakshin Chitra is more than a museum that houses homes, artefacts and accessories of a bygone era. It also provides a base ofr artisans and craftspeople from all parts of India to come in and display their art and sell their wares. I ended up buying Rajasthani bangles from a bangle maker and seller! If you are in Chennai and have a day to kill, this is quiet corner where you can get a good dose of traditional culture.
Just got back yesterday after a 7 day tour of Tamil Nad. Mostly visiting temples. But, on the first day we went to Dakshin Chitra. This is a museum dedicated to preserving South Indian cultural traditions. Homes have been recreated to great precision – the centre of the exhibit is a Chettiyaar home from the Chettinad region. This was one of the attendants at Dakshin Chitra – found her face fascinating and photogenic. Also loved the interplay of light and shadow