Monday, June 24, 2013

Wait, wait. Is it Orosi or Sengottai?

Sengottai is full of ups and downs.  Sometimes even the street names say that: Upper Street (மேட தெரு) and Lower Street (கீழ தெரு.)  Sometimes it is a gently sloping alley that links these different levels and at other times one has to climb the steps.

Unless things have changed now, the streets had open drainage channels as well--primarily for the rain water.    While not anywhere as clean as I would like the town to be--like many parts of India, open defecation is not out of the ordinary--I still liked to walk around and understand the place and its peoples.  And take photos, of course.

Once when I showed this photo of a part of Sengottai to some, they were pleasantly surprised that the town looked this good.  I suppose it is not unusual for an outsider to show how good things are.

Sengottai, India

I was reminded of Sengottai's streetscape when I saw this in Orosi, on the other side of the planet:


Here is Sengottai's main road:

In fact, there is more to the streets too--like how the tree trunks get painted to serve as alerts.  In Sengottai:

And in Orosi:

It is not merely the streets, of course.  The lush green vegetation all around.  The mango trees and the banana trees.  The railing outside people's homes.  The hills.

From an upstairs window at grandma's home, back in the day before new buildings came up, we could see lights at the distant hill.  With very little artificial light after sundown, it didn't take much brightness to reach the window.

In Orosi, from my balcony, I could see the lights at the distant hill.  Those lights moved--the headlights of vehicles coming down the mountain.  Sometimes they played hide-and-seek with me when their lights were blocked by vegetation or because of the curves the vehicles had to follow.

My father wonders why I go all by myself to places where I don't know anybody.  But, he is getting used to it by now, I think.  "Collect a lot of information" is what he said when I called him from the airport before shutting down my phone.

I think I should explain to him that, strangely enough, the more I travel, the more the places seem familiar.  Not the same, but oddly familiar.  Even when I don't know anybody to talk with. And even when I don't have anybody to talk with.

A few minutes outside of Orosi


Ramesh said...

Yesh - its amazing how familiar different parts of the world are, even though there are vast gulfs in language, culture, habits, etc. This is the great value of travel. As they say, it truly broadens the mind and we see that world as one -which is what it really is

One the great cures for nationalism, parochialism, all the ethnic conflicts, is simply travel.

Indu said...

Can understand your dad's wondering and you picking the places... Sometimes i feel, whether it is shopping for clothes or holidays, we tend to pick options which appear new but still have some resemblence or connection with our past... I tend to go for Indian looking colours prints or patterns unconsciously. And what sticks out is a kind of deja vu feeling... The same feeling i get even with people across cultures - beneath the skin they are so similar to me... Is it what we seek the familiar or really people and places are quite similar across the world?

Sriram Khé said...

given that we three (ramesh, indu, and me) have lived and traveled in places far, far away from where we were raised, i can imagine that our conversation on this will be a lot more agreements and very little to disagree ...

i remain convinced that deep down, we humans are no different from each other despite the external differences--in appearance or in traditions. and travel confirms that more and more. yes, there are anti-social elements, but they are everywhere anyway.

in costa rica, yes, the familiarity is a lot more. but, there was a similar feeling i had even at the south of france where neither the land nor the people looked anything like back in india ... but, here is the funny thing--that part of france was so much like where i am in oregon ;) which then further confirms my view that the more we go away from our own villages, the more we can begin to relate to other places and peoples ... and we can then hold hands and have world peace ;)

but, wait a sec ... both indu and ramesh failed to comment on the final lines i had there?
"Even when I don't know anybody to talk with. And even when I don't have anybody to talk with. "

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