Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Next Prong of the Trident

So it's goodbye India tonight with very mixed feelings (sad to go, full of affection for the places I've been and the people I've spent time with, excited about Thailand and its possibilites). I suppose such a torn heart is appropriate for a place which accommodates such glaring contradictions side by side with no hint of irony. I'm thinking of the juxtaposition of personal cleanliness and public filth (rubbish is endemic here, with no apparently functional centralised system of collection - and public dustbins a rarity), and signs like this outside one of the 1500 temples of the holy city of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu:

I have spent this past week in Chennai being thoroughly spoiled by Irene, her boyfriend, Jayaram, and her parents, Agnes and Cyrilraj. Irene had warned her mum that I'd been going a bit mad in Chavakkad, my last stop in Kerala, with the lack of variety (to put it very mildly) in my diet. So Agnes has kindly ensured I've not eaten the same thing twice since my arrival, with her delicious south Indian home cooking.

It's been a bit of a shock (but a welcome one) to have everything organised for me and to be so spoiled, after months of working out buses, trains and confusing geography. It's been a delightful way to round off these six Indian months - thank you!

I was taken to Mamallapuram early in my stay, a sort of 7th (I think) century laboratory of temples:

Here I am, under Durga's foot (a good place to be in relation to the warrior goddess, I feel):

A few nights ago, Irene and her mum decided I should be arrayed in one of Irene's saris (and we're quite a good match on the blouse sizes, luckily). They wrapped me in six metres of beautiful turquoise Mysore silk and posed me appropriately. I couldn't well leave India without a camp sari shot!

Yesterday we went to Kanchipuram, a sort of Varanassi of the south, a very holy Hindu town of 1500 or so temples. One of my favourite moments was being blessed by fifteen year old Jayanthi (a girl elephant) in the Parvati temple (apparently known as the Kamatchi Ammann temple). Here's Jayaram guiding me through it:

Earlier in the day, we had been through the gorgeous old carvings of the Kailasanadher Temple (a Shiva temple). I say "been through" because this is one of the ones that practises Hindu apartheid (don't get me started) and won't let in heathen like me (or Christian Irene - her boyfriend Jayaram is a Brahmin, so he's ok). Outside, as I was looking at a particular carving of a rather fierce looking Shiva, I realised here was the meditation that started this blog off (the story is in the first entry, if you don't get what I mean). The carving was the exact image I had seen in my meditation, except the trident pointed vertically down at me instead of at this angle. Just picture me walking through the river under it!

I've never seen this image before and was slightly spooked to be presented it on my last day in India. I have no idea what this means, if anything, but I'm taking it as a good omen as I jump prongs onto the next leg of my journey. Wish me luck!

Wishing you joyful pathways,
With love from Lucy xx

1 comment:

  1. Hey Gorgeous!..Loving your elephant friend![and you too ofcourse!],V.interesting stuff.. best wishes Jem x