Friday, January 13, 2006

Travel to India – Bangalore to Madurai

(This is part of a series on travel to India. Please read parts I, II and III before reading this for continuity)

I spent the majority of my life in India in Bangalore. A beautiful city no doubt -the weather is pleasant…’s a great cosmopolitan city….one cannot complain about life on Brigade and MG (on a side note, there is a lot to complain about if your conscience nags you when you look at the poor children begging when you come out of a restaurant after blowing Rs.300 or more on a meal). However, my association with Bangalore has been schooling, higher education, and work - things that I cannot just wait to get away from. My break from these activities involves my going to either Madurai (during school days) or Chennai (during higher education and work). When I travel by bus from Bangalore, the transformation of shop signs from Kannada to Tamil brings me great joy. I smile in anticipation of loving relatives waiting at the other end.
This time I traveled by KSRTC from Bangalore to Madurai. I had time to finish one sketch at the bus stand (sketch 1) as I was waiting to board. A mother and her daughter were waiting on the platform. The mother looked like she was scanning the crowd to see if she could locate someone – did her husband go to fetch some water? Was she worried that they might miss the bus? The daughter was sitting on a suitcase calmly reading in the faint street light. A four year old was sleeping peacefully on her father’s shoulder. How calm and peaceful a child looks when she is fast asleep thus! The trust that she has in the adult to take care of her is very touching.
Once in Madurai, I did not get a chance to sketch much. All I could manage was one quick sketch at the Meenatchi Amman Kovil (Sketch 2). Devotees/visitors were waiting for the temple gates to open after the afternoon break. Some of them were enjoying a siesta in the temple courtyard. I worked on this sketch on and off as my amma and I sat on a culvert and chatted with a relative who had accompanied us.
Winter in Madurai means the mercury has dipped as low as 90 degree F – in the night. So you can imagine how it must have been when I visited in May. Not withstanding the temperature, I went on trips to several places like Thiruppurangundram, Thiruchandur and Kodaikanal (it was pretty warm here too), I went on a whirlwind of visits to several relatives’ houses, I listened to family lineage stories from my ammayee (maternal grandmother) and several mamas (maternal uncles), chatted about college life and its associated fun with my cousins, and, wherever I went, I ate heartily. People prepared such delicious dishes every time I visited them. I am pretty much a glutton and never shy of expressing my interest in food.
After about two weeks of my stay in Madurai I started developing welts on my arms and legs. There would be a burning sensation in places and the welts would appear mysteriously. They would stay for a few hours and then gradually fade only to reappear the next day. “It is the heat”, declared my cousin. “Drink some buttermilk and stop loitering in the sun”.
“It is all the meat you consume”, my mother said. “You just cannot stop eating meat. Can you?” She continued, “The way you are all eager to sit down in front of a plate of mutton biryani, I am sure they think I am starving you”.
“How can I say ‘no’ without offending them”, I protest lamely.
“Oh yes you can, if you really wanted!”
Well, she had a point.
Meat or heat, something was causing these allergic reactions. I was due to leave for Chennai in a few days. My mother implored that I pay a visit to a famous skin specialist in Chennai. “Sure ma, I will”, I said as I dipped a piece of dosai in mouthwatering chicken gravy.


Suji said...

Made me nostalgic about aunty's home made food...

UrbanBarbarian said...

Your sketches tell a beautiful tale. You have a very painterly style which I really admire. So well done. Each one is frame worthy!

arvindh said...

Thank you so much for your encouraging words!

Gladtomeetin said...

Hey Your post brings a nostalgic feeling to me as even i used to travel from Bangalore to Madurai often(as my home town in Madurai)..

The Sketches are awesome, esp the people sleeping in the aaadiveedi of Meenakshi temple :-))

arvindh said...

It feels great to notice that you could identify Aadiveedhi in the sketch! Thank you!

Mad Guru said...

Another great story and more beautiful illustrations.

arvindh said...

Thank you very much.

HEMANTH.C said...

That is not only of meat & heat, u know i am veg now, me also facing alergy like that,i analysed many people have this problem