Wednesday, April 14, 2021

L is for Lessons learnt in Brihadiswara Temple #AtoZChallenge

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the third week of the #Blogging from A to Z  April Challenge 2021. My theme this year is based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

I'm exploring the 'Enemies of Ichigo Ichie' this week. Yesterday, it was 'distraction'. Today's focus is on 'projections'. 

Let's step into a day in August 2017 for today's post.

Thank you.

"...when our mind travels into the past, where pain and resentment reside, or the future, a place of fear and worries, we are pulled away from the present moment."

Quote borrowed from The Book of Ichigo Ichie
Vast was the temple where I stood.
Its name suggested big
and big it was--it was huge,
colossal and ancient and intact to explore.

One morning in Doha in 2017,
Ambika mentioned she'd be travelling
for work to Chennai.
Can I tag along?
I asked.
She agreed.

Temples, food and sarees 
were all entered in the itinerary.

Tanjavore after Chennai and then Madurai.

The day of Brihadiswara dawned warm and bright.
We entered the temple together. 
A couple of hours later, Ambika left to deliver 
her lectures.
I stayed on to explore 
the vast temple 
to capture it with my camera and my phone.
A group of ladies
rural folk from Andhra
spotted me and demanded I make their photo.

I was ecstatic 
an opportunity such as this!

That's when it froze.
My phone.

I switched it off and carried on clicking
with my camera instead.
Smile, but look natural--I implored the colourful lot.
Ignore me. Think I'm not here.
None of the tricks to get a candid worked.
They were all eager to pose and beam and be rather alert
to my click, click, shoot effort.

The phone didn't come back on.
I left it alone --tucked it in my camera bag and wandered
the entire afternoon,
stepping back in time 
when Gods were carved in stone.
Some had been chiselled by workmen from the far East
to sing the Chola King's glory.
I could be in Japan or China, I thought
as I admired the statue's carved out story.
Moon appeared
Shadows grew deeper.

Soon, the sun began to set.
I had no clue how to get
back to the homestay 
for all the phone numbers, addresses and details were imprisoned inside 
the silent phone that day.

Ambika was supposed to pick me up after work.
How will she find me and where?
The temple was vast 
and there were people everywhere.
Can you look at this? Can you help me? I asked around.
No one could un-freeze the phone's stubborn screen.

"Do you need help?" a voice called out to me.
I turned around to see 
kind eyes 
peeping through glasses sitting on dark, round cheeks.
"Hum achcha aadmi hun." I'm a good man, he said in Tamil sounding Hindi.

He offered me a chair inside the tourist booth where he worked,
at the temple entrance.
"Don't worry, we'll find a way." he assured.

My evolutionary instincts had already kicked in:
Fright, flight kept swapping places
inside my fearful heart.
Murder, rape, lost forever, 
doubts and doubters
rose up flaunting their 'we told you so' banners  in my panic stricken state.

Someone brought me a bottle of water. 

I took a few sips.
Paddy Homestay? I asked hopefully.
No one had heard of it.
Plus, it was too far away 
way beyond city limits--
in the middle of lush paddy fields.

'Maybe, you can find me a reliable driver?' I asked the gentle-eyed, soft spoken, guide/saviour.
'Someone you trust.'

He went out to find someone he knew. 

"I wish I'd jotted down the homestay's number. 
The owner's called Thiru." 
I mumbled more to myself than to another.

'Thiru?' I heard another guide turn towards me in the booth.

"Yes." I replied.

"I have a friend who's called that 
 he used to drive a taxi but I've heard he's changed tact. 
But, let me call him anyway."

He called his friend. And guess what? He was the Thiru.

What are the chances?

Phones buzzed across the city and I was told Ambika would pick me up presently.

At last, I spotted her car in the dark. 
She'd been driving around (in panic) looking for me, 
she told me as I got in.

All is well that ends well, she said as I poured out the panic I had felt.

We were headed for the  homestay,
but we stopped at a phone repair shop on the way.

" This can't ne fixed." they pronounced the phone dead at the shop.

We reached the paddy fields 
and told them all that had happened in Brihadiswara, 
For they knew it all from before --
Word travels fast in open fields.

Next time, keep a diary 
and jot down all the numbers before--
a valuable lesson learnt for sure.

Hot rice, sambhar and pickle later, I muttered:
Technology is helpful as long as it works.

'Let me have a look' said Ambika.

Lo and behold! 
the phone switched off and came back to life.
Just like that!

Although I had the most wonderful time in the temple that day, the minute I stared panicking, only negative thoughts came to me. My mind was conjuring up all the images I had seen on TV, read in the papers, of what could go wrong and then jumping straight into the fearful future. 

I didn't have the presence of mind to even find the name of the gentleman guide who helped me. 

Of course, I had options like staying in a hotel for the night in the city but panic clouds clarity.

Although those panic stricken moments weren't pleasant, they taught me a few valuable lessons.

Those kind men. God Bless them.

If you'd like to stay on for a bit and explore the wonderful homestay, you can click on:

P.S.  I was reminded of this day after reading this post written by Srivalli earlier on in the challenge: Amore Natura

Have you found yourself let down by your phone recently? 
Have strangers helped you out of a tricky situation?

Last year, I had written about my grandmother's delicious bread and salt treat called 

This year, I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z  powered by 


  1. Oh, my! So glad you met those good men. Getting lost in a new place is scary. Bang on about technology. It's useful only until it works.

    Love the pictures you shared. Seeing the carvings this close makes me feel like I'm there on the site. Thank you for posting this. <3

    1. Thank you for picking your A to Z theme;)
      It's been wonderful for my ideas Sri.

  2. Hari Om
    What a gorgeous and gregarious outing - only to be put 'off colour' by that dratted phone! so much we depend on tech these days - I like a wee note book in my wallet for just such as this... YAM xx

    (a little confused by the oversized image wiping out the end of your post though... spammer at work?)

    1. Thank you for pointing that out Yamini. I noticed it too.

      I think the tech beast wasn't pleases I was disrespecting it--Ha!HA! It was a setting issue on my blog.

      All is well again.

      A notebook it is now--wherever I go.

  3. how negatively we have started seeing the world right, when our first thoughts are negativre. But then despite the fear you had such a beautiful experience no? And that is what makes our life worthwhile

    1. So true.
      We are wired like that--evolution first and now societal evils.

  4. Phew! So glad things fell into place.
    Super photos. Happy that you were carrying your camera too. else you couldn't have clicked these wonderful pics after your phone froze.
    Didn't know of- Ichigo Ichie. "We must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."
    Reminds me of the song from the Hindi movie "Golmaal"- "Aanewaala pal jaanewaala hai; hosake to ismein, zindagi bitaado, pal jo ye jaanewaala hai"

    1. Thank you for visiting Anita and for putting the song in my head. It'll be my earworm for the rest of the day, at least.

  5. Uff I can feel that panic!OH Boy! I am so glad it ended up well. Wonder why negative thoughts enter our mind so easily!!It would have been some adventure truly. Its such an irony that we are lost either ways these days!! Lost with the phone & Lost without the phone too!!
    If my Amuma were to hear your story, she would say those men were God sent & Ambika's magical touch repaired the phone. Such incidents are truly a lesson for life. Any dependency evokes this same feeling,a good balance is all we need. There was a cute joke in Whatsapp I had read sometime back, a mother repeatedly calls her family for lunch,no one turns up as they are lost in their own phones. She then switches off the WIFI & in no minutes her entire family joins her.

    1. That's a meme in the making : 'lost with ...'

      I think a lot of us can relate to that mother switching off the WIfI, unless she's addicted too;) HA! HA! we live in contradictory times Vidya.

  6. We are so dependant on these devises today, I can fully apreciate how you felt. Thank goodness for you Good Samaritan! On a possitive note, I really like your photos - I took an almost identical picture to your final one during my visit there in 2012!

    1. So lovely to find out you've seen the big temple Keith. Would love to see your photo too:)

  7. So true! Panic makes emotions outweigh our intelligence.
    I loved the way you shared the story with such beautiful photographs. Wonderful post!

    1. Thank you Purba. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. Another incredible place, I'm enjoying your photographs and stories equally!

  9. Oh boy, what a story! I wouldn't remember my basic (I mean important, vital) phone numbers if my phone was going to die...
    Quilting Patchwork & Appliqué

    1. I wish I could remember numbers. I can recite poetry but that's not very useful, is it?;)

  10. Your powerful opening quote reset my thinking to more fully appreciate the message of your following post. The importance of staying focused in the life we are living, rather than in one we have lived or one we may possibly live long enough to experience in the future, is worth remembering. Lovely photos!

    1. Thank you for visiting Gail.
      Yes, this theme is turning out to be quite helpful. I'm able to thread an assortment of memories using the concept of Ichigo Ichie.

  11. I am so glad everything worked out safely. I would have felt similar panic being unsure how to connect with my friend and find my way to our accommodations. How serendipitous that he happened to know the right Thiru. Weekends In Maine

  12. What an adventure! The temple is amazing, and so are your photos. And you know I'm smiling at the moon hanging out. I'm glad things worked out - and in retrospect certainly were more grace and serendipity than could possibly be anticipated. But, oh, that immediate spiraling panic. Too bad it didn't shut itself off as mysteriously as your phone did.

    1. The last line of your comment made me smile-- very brightly:)

      It's a beautiful temple and still in use, too.

  13. What luck that he turned out to be the Thiru!!!All of us have had scary moments with phone going off just when you need it the most. I love the pic of all the women-posing and all :-)

    1. Cheers Arti. They were so bossy and so adorable. I told them I wouldn't be able to share the pics as my phone wasn't working. They said they didn't need any to take home, they just wanted to see the shots on my camera screen. How innocent and gorgeous! Isn't it?

  14. Chalo der aaye durust aaye...I honestly was quite keen to read what would have happened next while you were waiting on that chair 😃. No matter how bad we get entangled in fear and danger there is still humanity around the world...catching up on your posts now :).

    1. There are more good people around than we give credit Pinkz. It's our hard wired survival instincts that make us cautious. Nothing wrong there but....
      Good to see you here. xx

  15. It must have been very stressful! Gorgeous photos, though :)

    The Multicolored Diary

  16. Oh my God Arti... Anyone in your place would have panicked... God must have saved you is all I thought when I read about the miraculous coincidence. You rightly said technology is a boon and bane both! I should also write all numbers and keep in a diary or a paper whenever I travel... Thanks for sharing such a valuable precautionary tip!

    1. I take a notebook with me wherever I go.
      And it becomes a great scribble pad for ideas. For someone who's fond of the old ways, I find it suits me better than using the 'notes' app on my phone.

  17. It is amazing how important our phones have become such an integral part of our lives... And I recall reading somewhere how our memories have adapted.. earlier I could remember phone numbers and such, now I recall which file in which folder on my laptop has certain photographs or which apps I have on my phone :) But yes, it will be wise to have at least one or two numbers written down somewhere, old style for such emergencies..
    And by the way, love the pics in this post.. Visiting the temples at Thanjavur is currently both my teens' favorite trip of our visits to India..
    The Lake Poets and Their “Lake Poems”

    1. Thank you for visiting.
      I'm so glad the pics rekindled fond memories in you.

  18. Such majestic structures. I find such elaborate architecture more in the south than in the north.
    L for Lalbagh

    1. Yes, you're right. It has to do with all the plundering north had to face over centuries.

  19. Some moments are perhaps worth pulling the mind from the present moment. I am reminded of my visit to the temple in 2016.


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