Friday, January 13, 2017

Travel to Read People

Henry David Thoreau said “It is not worth to go round the world to count the cats in Zansibar“, I couldn’t guess why and which context he said the above lines, but the initial impression it gives is he was not fond of travelling. When we look at his life history, he lived most of life at Massachusetts, to be more specific in Concord. But, yet by his thoughts and writing influenced people like Leo, Mohandas and Martin.

The quote was Thoreau perspective, while I don’t enthusiastically endorse it, predominantly, majority of people don’t travel much. There have various reasons to put them in a single place for their life time. Some do travel, as an excursion. Trying t escape from the hard days of work, this will happen infrequently. These excursions are like sight-seeing. Pick 2-3 major spots, travel there, see (not observe) and come back to the groove. And, there is a niche section of travelers, who go to a place, observe it, understand it and learn from the places. S. Ramakrishnan belongs to the latter category. This book, Dheshanthri is a textual documentation of the places of his visit and the people he met in his journey.

You can throw an argument- He is a writer and he is bound to observe the nuances which will assist his writings. Yes, here is the exercise. We all had visited to Mahabalipuram. Can you tell (without googling) in which century the shore temple was built? I’m not even asking for the specific year. 9/10 people fail in this exercise.

The book doesn’t have photos of the places visited, at first I was first disappointed, but as I moved after the initial chapters of the book, I realized photos are not necessary. His writings were clearly descriptive and moreover he is connecting us with the people who are living there and the history associated with the places. He doesn’t throw more factual information. He lets us know, what we supposed to know. He puts the social context first, and then the contextual information.

On his visit to Palani, the following passage describes the mise-en-scene of the place.

யானைப்பாகன் ஒருவன் தனது யானையை அருகில் உள்ள டீ கடையில் ஒப்படைத்துவிட்டு, ஒயின் ஷாப்புக்குள் குடிக்கப் போய்விடுகிறான், கேரளாவில் இருந்து வந்த சிப்ஸ் விற்பவர்கள் ஒரு பக்கம் அலைந்துகொண்டு இருக்கிறார்கள். விபூதி விற்பவர்கள், பஞ்சாமிர்தம் விற்பவர்கள், ஏடு பார்பவர்கள், கஞ்சா விற்பவர்கள், மனோவசியக் கலை புத்தகம் விற்பவர்கள்….. பழ விற்பனை செய்பவர்கள் என்று கோயிலைச் சுற்றிலும் நூற்றுக்கணக்காண சிறிதும் பெரிதுமான வேலைகள் நடந்துகொண்டு இருக்கின்றன.

It’s not the group of people alone; he observes and talks with individuals. Here, he is chatting with a girl who is grazing goats near Nallathangal well.
பொம்பள பட்ட கஷ்டத்தைக் கேட்க யாரும் வரலை. அவ தலைமுடி தெரியுதா, புடவை தெரியுதானு பாக்க வந்துட்டீங்க. கிணத்துல விழுந்து செத்தது நல்லதங்கள் மட்டும்தானா? ஒவ்வொரு ஊர்லயும் எத்தனை பொம்பளைக கிணற்றில் விழுந்து செத்துப்போயிருக்காங்க. கிணறு வத்திப்போனா, கைதவறிவிட்டுத் துருப்பிடிச்சுக் கிடக்கிற வாளி, செம்பைக்கூட பார்த்துப்புடலாம். ஆனா, அதுல செத்த பொம்பளையோட வலியை அறிய முடியுமா சொல்லுங்க?”

Don’t expect only famous places in this book. The author travels to less visited places like Nalathangal well, Koovagam festival, Odessa Film movement, Kayatharu, Ramanujam house…

Also, the author writes about the difficulties faced by modern travelers who are at the constant watch of the doubtful police eyes, particularly in North India.

The non-availability of photos is substituted by the illustrations from Magi.

Places covered by the author in the book.

1 Sarnath (UP)

2 Rangathitu (Karnataka)

3 Nallathagal Well (Arjunapuram, Karaikudi district)

4 Maniachi Railway Station

5 Tanjavur Saraswathi Mahal Library

6 Keeriparai tribe village (Kanyakumari district)

7 Kutralam

8 Choolamandalam village (ECR)

9 Bandarkal Oriental Research (Pune)

10 Korkai (Srivaikundam)

11 Kayatharu (Kovilpatti)

12 Thiruchuzhi (Ponnamaravathi, Pathukotai district)

13 Jain caves (Madurai- Perumal Malai, Melkayalkudi, Keezikayalkudi, Naga Malai, Annai Malai, Keezivalavai, Kazugu Malai)

14 Gangai Konda Choolapuram

15 Armenian Chruch (Chennai)

16 St. Thomas Mount (Chennai)

17 Ramanujam House (Kumbakonam)

18 Nathional Fossil Park (Thiruvalkarai, Thindivanam)

19 Moonaru (Kerala)

20 Thiruvalanchuzi (Kumbakonam)

21 Nalanda (Bihar)

22 Katmandu (Nepal)

23 Lonavala (Pune)

24 Koovagam festival (Vizhupuram district)

S Ramakrishnan- Author of this book Dhesanthri

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