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Payanangal mudivathillai!

Every time, I go travelling with my parents, the one thing that stays is the decision that *that* would be the last trip. But every next time, I am still travelling with them, with the same thought over and over. Payanangal mudivathillai. The journey never ends. But somehow this time, I am looking forward to more of these trips. I almost realise that I have always loved them anyway. Or may be, over the years, they just got better and better.

The one reason I probably love it may be is that, we always travel to Tamil Nadu. North or south or central. It will always be some part of the state. And I so much love this land, the people, the culture, the language, the temples, the all-night awake streets. I so much love being here. And every trip gives me strange experiences. The old lady who invites me to the seat next to hers, worrying if I hadn’t notice the vacant seat. The intimate addressing from total strangers, building innocent associations, genuine despite their transience. The down to earth aura that comes so innate with locale. The senthamizh that flows so fluently. The mallikai vaasam, from the jasmine clad women. The busy street and the crowd like nomads, stranded and lost, or often mesmerised and stunned by the glow of consumerism. The shopkeepers call out, coaxing you into buying stuff and endorsing even undergarments! The street vendors yield to bargain to any unimaginable level, and offer ‘special’ interest and discount to ‘all’ their ‘special’ customers, if you care enough to talk and build a rapport, of some identifiable measure. Nobody keeps trade secrets here! I was surprised how that old man explained the exact mix of his beyond perfect filter coffee! Was he so sure I’d never replicate it or did he just not care! There’s more to a coffee than just buying and sipping thru. There’s relishing a coffee and personally appreciating the taste to the old man who made it for you. “Coffee pramadham!”.

And today’s pivotal joint in our itinerary was Nellaiyappar Temple, Tirunelveli. The temple, in one word, is a maze. I am so surprised by the sheer awesomeness in the architecture. Not just for the sculptures, or the Saptaswara pillars,(where you here the seven swaras of Carnatic music, by the clang of each stone pillar, that vibrates like they were strings of a veena). Its a maze that they have built up there. The numerous doors at every passage, that leads to another set of numerous doors to numerous deities and sculptures. You don’t get lost there coz the most inviting paths are the most trodden direct paths, circling the temple in the shortest route. But if you choose to enter every next door you see, you’re probably to end up in some dark enclosed space with vermillion spread forms of Gods, with unknown names. I should probably upload a pic or two of the temple, to elaborate the greatness of the expanse. Looking forward to a similar mind blowing episode tomorrow, at Tiruchendur Murugan sannidhi!

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