Flying is an impersonal business. Only meteorologists or a few other experts can fathom the skies and its myriad hues. For me, it is just flying through miles and miles of unchanging blue/white space without any kind of feeling of familiarity or attachment. My time in India is short and many friends and relatives advised me to make my trip to Trichy/Chennai via air. Somehow, the idea did not gel with me. The pulse of a country can be felt only by travel via land with its smells, tastes, sights. And a country like India literally attacks all the five senses with its multiple offerings.
Anyways, to make a long story short, I took the 1.5 day journey via Dadar express from Mumbai to Chennai and from then onto Trichy by Rockfort Express. And I truly enjoyed my ride. I passed through many types/kinds of cities, landscapes. It is quite strange but nothing struck a chord with me till I neared TN borders. I enjoyed all the passing landscapes but they were just that: a passing and objective enjoyment of the different hues of my country. After crossing Renigunta, I began to feel that I am home at last. The billboard advertisements rang familiar. The noises, songs from temples and even the smell of the land seemed quite familiar and enjoyable. Gopal Palpodi still rules the roost as far as wall ads go. And the familiar Mariamma songs in the month of Margazhi rang loud and clear from most temples.
The other curious thing I found this time around is that the multitude of marathadi Pillaiyars increases by leaps and bounds once we reach TN! Andhra and Karnataka didn't seem to have that many roadside temples.
Finally, I boarded Rockfort Express from Chennai Egmore. A contented feeling came over me that I had arrived at last. Kollidam had some water this time around (finally, at least to justify its name!). The familiar Southern Tower of the Srirangam temple rose high from amongst coconut trees as the train rumbled across the Kollidam.
Srirangam had just partially awoken to the call of dawn as yet another day began its relentless rhythm.
More on Srirangam experiences in my next post...