Saturday, January 26, 2013


Hello blogosphere!

Sadly, until this time I have been patently out of reach of the not-so-worldwide web.  It would be truly impossible to give you a full recap of all of the events that we have experienced in such a short period of time, but I can touch on a few.  But please allow me to say that our time has been nothing short of spectacular.

Swami Ramakrishna Math

On Wednesday the 23rd, our lovely hosts took us on a tour of the city.  One of the most impressive stops was at the Swami Ramakrishna MathSri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai is the first branch center of the Ramakrishna Order in Southern India. It was started in the year 1897 by Swami Ramakrishnananda, one of the direct disciples of Ramakrishna. Besides Swami Ramakrishnananda, the Math was visited by Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Brahmananda and Swami Shivananda. The motto of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission is: For one’s own salvation, and for the welfare of the world.

We were able to experience the peace of the math firsthand and were allowed some time to meditate and gather our thoughts about what has already been a whirlwind of a journey.  We have been here for six days and it already feels like a month (and I mean this in the best way possible).


On Thursday the 24th Lucas and myself had the distinct pleasure of visiting j2k Incorporated.  j2k is a cinematic 3d animation studio responsible for the special effects in films such as "Spiderman 3", "Alice in Wonderland", and "Sucker Punch" to name a very few.We had the pleasure of meeting the  creative director, Raasi N Vijay who showed us around his beautiful and intimate boutique offices.  Aside from being a creative genius, he was also a fine human being.  We shared many a laugh over lunch... mainly concerning the massive amount of mosquito bites that have taken my skin by storm.

 j2k also produces a great many television shows in the Tamil Nadu region.  We had the unexpected pleasure of visiting the set of their most recent serial, Veetukku Veedu Vietnam Veedu.  Rumor has it that one of our team will be appearing as a guest star in an upcoming episode.  More to come on that in time.

Chennai Temple Tour

On Friday the 25th we had the distinct pleasure of touring a few of the city's vast and beautiful temples.  We began the morning, however, with a celebration of Ms. Lisa Mengarelli's birthday.  In true Indian style, this was only one of three cakes she received that day.  It should be noted that Sue Kalifah's birthday happens to be tomorrow.  We have the day entirely free, so though we do not know what she will be up to, we wish her the happiest.  These girls are lucky to be in such an inspiring place on their days of birth.

 We began our tour with our lovely and vastly knowledgeable guide, Rotary Ann Sivagami.  Sivagami and her husband Ramanathan happen to be my current hosts and I couldn't be more pleased.  We have all been blessed with truly generous hosts.  What they say about Indian hospitality is an understatement when one is truly in the thick of it.

Our first stop was at a local neighborhood temple, Turnbull, in the Guindy district.  All Hindu temples have a distinct architectural style composed of materials of the region.   Those in Tamil Nadu tend to be made of simple materials, but are composed of the most vibrant colors, many keeping their true tones for generations.

Sivagami gave us a crash course on the Hindu mythology and allowed us to walk through her neighborhood temple and observe the process and practice handed down for generations.  I could speak endlessly on the nuances of Hinduism, but suffice it to say, it is an intricate and beautiful religion and it is unique in its acceptance of all other religions.  Its accession with the many races and religions that populate India are the primary reason that it can exist as a united country when, in any part of the world, the diversity would cause division.

After we learned what we were looking at, we embarked on a tour of Kapaleeswarar.

The Kapaleeswarar Temple of Chennai is a very old and revered temple of Mylapore in Chennai. The 'gopuram' (tower) of this edifice is peculiar to all representative specimens of Dravidian architecture. Consecrated to Lord Shiva, this temple contains some beautiful sculptures, among which the bronze idols of 63 Saivite Saints (Nayanmars) decorating the outer courtyard are rare examples.

Besides, in the courtyard of the temple under an old Punnai tree, is a small shrine dedicated to the Goddess Parvathi and showing her worshiping Lord Shiva in the disguise of a peacock. It is from this legend that Mylapore derived its name -'myil' meaning peacock and 'oor' meaning town.

It is is a beautiful sample of classic Dravidian temple sculpture and architecture. Fragmentary inscriptions date back to 1250 AD, but the current structure is a renovated one which was rebuilt by the rulers of Vijayanagara the 16th century. The 37 meters tall and grand gopuram is intricately carved. 

It was truly a sight to behold.

Though not a temple, next we were treated to a stop at The Church of Our Lady of the LightIt is commonly called as Luz Church by the locals, which derives from the Portuguese name Nossa Senhora da Luz. Built in 1516 by the Portuguese, it is one of the oldest Churches in the city and its foundation stone marks as one of the oldest European monuments in India. The history of the church dates back to the 16th-century legend of safe arrival to land by missionaries, guided by a mysterious light.

It was an altogether marvelous day filled with equally marvelous people.  Though there is so very much more to say, I must leave you with but a sampling.  I look forward to tomorrow, I am at peace with today and I fondly recall all of those those passed.

With love from Chennai.

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