Summer 2017

Thanjavur – the city of Art & Architecture

10:02 pm EST

Jenny Han in the book The Summer I Turned Pretty once said “Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” I don’t think I can agree more. As much as I aspired to keep this blog alive during the Summer, I was trapped in impending electricity shortage, culminating my life choices and immersed in an experience that lies beyond technology. Shortly as Summer has started coming to end, I’ve started to realise the fast paced nature of the notion of “time”. July 18 marked my last day in Kenya, the first part of my Summer trip this year. Arriving at Hong Kong Airport made me realise how it feels to feel empty, sad yet fulfilled after having contributed to a cause so special. I made sure to keep track of my entire journey with extensive detail to cherish this piece of memory, years to come. I plan write an entry summarising the trip in the short future – stay tuned to this.
Meanwhile, what am I doing now and where am I? If some of my social media hasn’t been self explanatory, I’ve been in the Southern part of India for the last three days. Within these few days, I’ve had the honour of sitting by my 75 year old grandmother and listen to stories that date back to the 1980’s during my mother’s childhood. All of which filled me with warmth as I was able to understand the kind, hardworking, appreciating nature of my mother since a young age. Recalling the tedious essence of living in an extended family with her sister-in-law, husband, her in-laws and finally her immediate sisters prompted me to thinking how the concept of family has unfolded over time. It also made me grasp the fact that this might possibly be the last time I’ll be able to hear these stories from this same 75 year old. The saying “Life is too short to be overthinking” is posed as an overrated saying. Yet, the saying embraces itself with a strong element of truth that as a teenager we fail to acknowledge. I’ve always avoided the thought of “attachment” because I feared losing someone close to me. Overtime, I found myself growing to appreciate the people around me more and more – those that I’d generally push away. Not because I didn’t care about them or that they weren’t of importance, it was being consumed in the ideal world that “everyone will be around for a long time” or that there is a always a next time.
I vividly remember Peter Moll’s (CEO & Founder of Stand Up Shout Out, an organization in Kenya) words during his impromptu speech — “There are no leaders of tomorrow, there are only leaders of today.” This is because we use the excuse of “tomorrow” to push our tasks back – whether it be your IA, extended essay, meeting up with your friend, finishing up chores or talking on the phone with a distant family member or wanting to bring about change. The melancholy of the assumption of there being a tomorrow is that there mostly isn’t time tomorrow. This statement distinctly stuck to me and will for the rest of time to come. The last the three days made me understand that being around all these elderly people in my life is nothing but a short lived aspect, just like life’s many ones. This made me hold onto every account I’ve encountered in these last three days    very tightly.
Although this Summer I only get to stay with both my grandparents for two days each, within this short spam of time, I’ve learnt to value the gifted opportunities and value the element of time. Whether it was spending hours chatting with my paternal grandmother in the backyard or endlessly attempting to teach my maternal grandfather on how to navigate through the daily lives of teenage social media such as Facebook. All of which have been momentous. Along with this comes the ability to share my aspirations and my plans for my future – giving me the clarity of thought and confidence in the sense of direction I plan to head.
Yesterday [Aug 7], I had the opportunity to visit the Brihadeeswarar Temple also known as the great “Thanjavur Temple”. Being born here, it’s been one of the most iconic places I’ve visited tenuously the last thirteen years. It is a Hindu temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest temples in India and is an example of Dravidian architecture during the Chola period. Built by Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 CE, the temple turned 1000 years old. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples“. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century.
Ironically, only now did I get the chance to learn about the cultural significance of this beautiful architecture that plays a pivotal role in the shaping of South India culture. My grandparents accompanying me allowed me to learn more about the history of Thanjavur – the city where I was born since they’ve lived here for more than fifty years. This was true mesmerisation. My two days here are coming to a near end and I’m looking forward to what is yet to come. Like the good old saying “Every memory matters” (sorry I enjoy quoting).
Till then, warm greetings from Thanjavur city – known for it’s blissful art and intricate architecture. Lots of love.

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