We happened to visit triplicane a couple of days ago.
An organization called SYMA and they conducted the Thiruvillikkeni Thiruvizha and I was asked to inaugurate it along with Mrs. Sudha Ragunathan. When we were wondering where it was going to happen, we were asked to step down to the area encompassing the Kolam which was now full of water and the area had been beautified. I remember a portion of my childhood which I spent in Triplicane. The huge Kolams, running about barefoot on the roads, checking out the Perumal when he came on his rounds.. it used to be good fun.
There was some kind of a common skein which tied all the people in and around that area together, its activities, the temple....
As a kid, my grandmother used to take me to the temple, and there used to be one area where I was told by grandmom to remove a piece of thread from the clothing I wore on therein, I fail to remember what was in that small enclosure now. And I used to be terribly excited because each piece of thread meant that God will give new clothes. So each time, when I went to the temple I ll make sure I leave a piece of thread there. Of course, the idealogy behind leaving the thread in the temple is a different thing altogether.
Coming back to the inauguration, Sudha aunty and I sat on the stage, and she was asked to sing. And she sang Kurai Onrum Illai. Thereafter when I was told to do the same, I was petrified, actually not petrified or scared, just the feeling that its not a done thing to be there and sing after her, on the stage, sitting next to her. And I kept saying this is not right, and all that.. but I got down to singing a Soordas Bhajan on Lord Krishna. And my voice boomed all through the area, of course I realised we were on a public address system much before that. And somehow I felt something new, of just wanting to be and do nothing. I am a nature person and I get taken in by my surroundings and usually get overwhelmed.
Thereafter we were taken into Parthasarathy Temple, wherein I hadnt stepped after when I was maybe 8. This time the trip was a different one. I am not the temple-going kind. Neither fastidous about it. Dont do the usual of going to the temple and having darshan on auspicious days, birthdays this that anything.
There was a huge congregation of people, and the temple had changed a lot from when I saw it last. And once inside I was standing so close to the deity that if I had just reached, I would have touched Him. Also came to know that he is the Perumal with the moustache, because he is a Kshatriya and all other Perumal dieties are clean shaven. Also saw the other dieties which are normally hidden from view. And at around that time, the screen was removed and people there started chanting in one voice. Whoah! That was a surreal experience.
Once I came out, I saw that Triplicane had just grown a little bit because it had to, but the essence, shade, colour, everything has remained the same. There are people at all times, walking around, ceaseless activity, and it was a different world. And a different place. With a pace of its own. I wouldnt go back and live there but somehow the air I breathe there, the sounds I hear, everything feels different.
I think I have not written about a temple or the areas around so far, mainly because, I havent been to many and neither have I wanted to. There were a lot of nostalgic memories that are associated with Triplicane, how my grandmom and I used to walk up to the Marina Beach from home, my frequent visits to the departmental store, one of the very few at that time at the end of the road I lived, guzzling some cold drink or another, waiting for the baloon man to come and when he did making sure mom heard him and try to peste her to buy one for me, the peanut vendor, and the way he used to tinkle the bell in his cart, drawing Kolams large enough to fill up the whole area in front of our house, our neighbours, the Hanuman temple which used to be at the end of the road where I used to go each morning before going to schoool and my forehead used to have shades of Kunkum, Vibhooti, Sindhoor, and sandalwood paste. People used to tease me saying that there was no more space in my small forehead. I learnt how to play carrom from an uncle who was extremely good at it and got back at all the boys who bullied me with their skill in playing the game. And this uncle taught me everything. I never took to chess though. How I forgot my school bag on the bus and was afraid on what was going to happen when someone from the area, who was with me brought it to me. How I forgot the bus pass one day and the conductor just let me go That was a different time, and seems a different era. And so far away. All the memories came in with a huge whoosh. I was not so influenced with it in some of my previous visits. But this time was different. And this shall remain imprinted in my memory.