Sunday, 30 September 2012

The only thing that is permanent

Change – What does this word bring to your mind? Does it feel like a breath of fresh air? Or does it indicate discomfort and fear of the unknown? And how do you react to it? Simply close your eyes and mind in fear or slowly hold hands with it in trepidation or embrace it welcomingly?  Irrespective of perceptions and reactions, change is something interesting and adventurous that is in the offing.

It intrigues us to slowly push that mysterious door and take a first peek through the small crack and then gradually push it open as it unveils a whole new arena. We cautiously take that first step in. And more often than not, the steps thereafter are not in our control. We just get sucked in and start whirling in the whirlpool. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Its funJ.

Sometimes the stomach churns and lurches at unexpected turns. We bump ourselves here and there, get shocks and surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant) and even go about in circles. Sometimes it’s a whopping high jump or a free fall that makes you feel like your belly is giving way and then you land in a place that has more beautiful sights to see than you ever imagined. Other times, you land up in a not so nice place but take yourself through it nevertheless. And at the end of these not so nice explorations too, we always stand to gain more than we ever thought we would. While the comfortable journeys through tree lined roads on well laid paths are memorable and happy, the rough patches are the ones that bring out our true potential. We seem to gain, no matter which path the change puts us into.

And what is life without a bit of everything after all? I doubt if we would enjoy any journey if it was thoroughly pleasant and completely predictable. I don’t want to come to work knowing the exact plans for the day all the time. I do want those days when my boss throws a googly at me and says ‘deliver by noon’. What fun it is to see the speed at which the brain works and the way the body completely co-operates heedless to hunger and thirst to reach the finish line! That late lunch laced with the flavour of a task accomplished, pushed into the tired body after running a mad race tastes sweeter than anything else. We do need these roller coaster rides to spice up life after all.

My own reactions to change have gone through a lot of transformation over the years and the journey is still on. Years back, change in any form used to make me shudder and feel extremely uncomfortable. I would want to visit the same restaurants, order the same dishes and wear the same kind of clothes .I have never lived outside my hometown or away from my parents. I used to be teased as a ‘frog in a pot’ and that I really was (Yeah I ‘was’. I’ve now graduated into a frog in a well and am soon planning to shift into a pond. That’s a broader area you know?J) Thankfully my workplace came to my rescue and transformed me completely. A series of upside down changes at one shot gave me lessons worth for all the years I had lived till then. It showed me that my potential was far higher than what I thought. I came out stronger, robust and most importantly, wiser. I realised how important changes are in our evolution as human beings. Uncomfortable and difficult they might be, but sans changes, we would get completely stunted as a person and also miss out on a lot of wonderful experiences which it always brings along.

Today, the thought of change is not unwelcome or uncomfortable to me anymore. I have my head tilted upwards as the rays of the early morning sun slowly caress my face. I feel a strange sense of excitement mixed with fear surge through my being as I get a sneak peek at what is in store. It will feel pleasant to bask in the warmth of those rays. I also know that the intensity may increase as the day moves forward. There will be moments when I feel the sweltering heat and maybe even find the powerful rays blinding my eyes, but only to leave it clearer and sharper than before. And the sun would keep hiding behind the clouds to give me my share of pleasant weather too.
So bring it on, oh beautiful light from the timeless source!! I stand ready and waiting to play the game with you. For, I already know that we both win. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A trip to the Temple town of Tamil Nadu

The weekend before last, we made sudden travel plans and Saturday evening saw us drive down to Kanchipuram, famous for the numerous temples that it houses and a dear neighbour of my hometown Chennai. The 2 hour drive on good well lit roads was made all the more enjoyable by the blessings that the Rain God showered. We reached by around 8:00 PM, found a nice place to stay and post check in and dinner, we comfortably sunk into the soft beds and slipped into the slumber world.

Early morning on Sunday, we started out in the beautiful weather to the temple destinations. We first visted a little known temple whose main deity is Lord Chitragupta. Being the god who keeps tab of our good and bad karma, it is said that it does good to pay our respects to him. So, that we did. The next destination was the Varadharaja Perumal kovil. Situated a little away from the main town, this sprawling temple is a sight to see. As we walked down the road that leads to the temple, I felt like I had travelled back on time. Lined with some typical agraharam style houses, road side stalls selling lovely flowers and colourful glass bangles, men and women wearing the traditional soman and madisar repectively and a horse drawn tonga to complete the picture, the street perfectly resembled a scene from the past.
A traditional house that adorned the road leading to the temple

The air was resonating with a blissful silence as we stepped into the sprawling temple. The only welcome disturbance was the sounds of the rustling leaves, blowing breeze and chirping birds. The temple had a lot of parrots flying around. The bright green birds were a nice change from the crows that usually crowd most places. Each and every sanctum in this temple was breathtaking. The temple architecture was beautiful and ancient. And that set me thinking. India has indeed been a storehouse of every art form and sphere of knowledge. The breathtakingly beautiful and sturdy temples that stand testimony to architectural genius, the amount of knowledge in fine arts like music and dance that have been passed on to us, the ancient works in the fields of medicine, science and mathematics that outdo all the ‘discoveries’ and inventions being made now are simply mind blowing. Yet, we sadly have not made use of it and don’t realise its value either. Anyway, I digress. After paying our respects and offering prayers to all the deities, we sat in one of the mandapams(hallway) and basked in the silence and peace as my enthralled nephew stood observing a squirrel and some parrots that were frisking about on the age worn yet sturdy walls. Coming out of the main temple, we sat down in the stone floors within the compound to feast on the yummy puliyodharai and thayir sadam that we got from the friendly mamas in the extremely traditional looking prasdam stall.

The imposing temple entrance gopuram

The scene once you enter

We all wondered at these linked rings .. This entire block
must have been carved out of a single stone!! 

The intricate work on stone was truly amazing

The Prasadam stall manned by a very friendly lot

We then proceeded to the famous Kamakshi temple. Since it was extremely crowded, only my determined mom went for dharshan while the rest of us cooled off in a raised stone platform by the temple pond and enjoyed the nice weather. Then, post lunch and some much needed rest, we proceeded to the Kanchi mutt. I had a wonderful experience here. As soon as you enter the main hall of the mutt, you are welcomed by an age old sanctum whose presiding deity has been worshipped for many years by the great saints of the lineage. Once you enter this place, you can really feel those positive vibrations. It was so strong that I found it impossible to make a worldly prayer there!! As soon as I began my prayers, the pettiness hit me and without my knowing, I found myself praying for peace and the knowledge that nothing else matters. Though the feeling was momentary, I was simply awestruck by the power of the vibes in that place that could evoke such thoughts in me.

It was then time to say goodbye to this quiet and holy town. There are a lot of other places to visit in Kanchipuram but we could cover only these in the limited time that we had. We set out on the return journey and were back home by around 7 in the night to prepare for the forthcoming week’s mad rush.

The trip was a very nice and short break from our routine lives. All of us need these breaks from the run of the mill, don’t we? And it feels really good to escape into places like these whose very atmosphere evokes peace and contentment and gives us that much needed time with ourselves. Many times, these short and unplanned escapades turn out to be a lot more enjoyable than the planned holidays. I always enjoy leisurely and self paced trips. Change of atmosphere is all that matters for me. If we get sucked into travel itinerary and time constraints, I feel we lose out on the all the pleasure and peace that a quiet holiday with family can give. Even if the place I visit has a hundred famous sites, I would be content visiting a few of them to get a feel of the place and otherwise bask in the leisure which is the most enjoyable feature of a holiday.