Desandhri Review

My Musings  Blog by SA Narayanan

First, for those who are not very familiar with Tamil writers, or those who have lost touch recently, let me say that there is a Tamil writer, S. RAMAKRISHNAN, who writes on many topics. Did I say “write” I can’t find suitable words to adequately describe his writing.. You have to read him to personally understand and feel it.

An hour ago I finished reading his book “DESANDHRI”. Ramakrishnan has expressed his feelings about the various places that he has visited. Not just about the place, but the People, the Nature, Historical importance, Our Heritage, Parampariyam and Culture, and on many other aspects. Total 41 experiences, each a gem. What a writing! What a description!

Starts with Suriyan (Sun, Veyil) in his home village house. From there to Saranath Sthupi and about Bihar and its People. Then to Arjunapuram where the Nalla Thangal story happened. Nalla thangal, a poor woman unable to bear the hunger of her 7 children commits suicide throwing herself and the 7 children into a well – this is a folklore. Ramakrishnan goes to visit this well. A very touching writeup.

Many of us would have gone to Lonavala, but view the place thru Ramakrishnan’s eyes about the Mazhai there. You will want to visit again there. then about Maniyachi Vanchinathan. Do you know that the Great Indian Survey, the Geological Survey of India’s original version,

commenced from St Thomas Mount, near Chennai? The breadth and width of India was surveyed painstakingly by Britishers. No wonder, Mt Everest was named after Mr EVEREST, a British Survey Engineer.

Then he goes in search of rare flowers, then goes to another part of India to see rare birds, then to Thanjavur Sarasvati mahal, the large Tamil library. He wonders how people those days “wrote” on Palm leaves (Panai Olai) and, in absence of Xerox machines how they took copies ! Those who re-wrote the original Olai “writings” on another Olai were called Ezuththarkal and they lived in a separate street called Ezuththarkal Theru which still exists in Thanjavur today. Biramippu. then onto Kuttalam Aruvi.

Comes next (11th topic) is his experience at Satna (Madhya Pradesh) on one night. One of the three MOST BEST (pardon my grammar) write ups – my eyes were moist after reading this. When Ramakrishnan, on his way to Kaju Raho, got down at Satna to change trains, got “frozen” in the severe winter and was afflicted with cold fever etc. How the poor, simple, but GREAT hearted old people – unknown to him, of a different environment, different language – of Satna took the unconscious Ramakrishnan to their house and nourished him for three days, expecting NOTHING in return – if the narration of those simple but wonderful people of Satna does not make your eyes moist, well, it won’t happen – you are bound to “cry”. Excellent writing.
When you recover from Satna, you are taken to Sabarmati, and about Uppu (salt). Then to Kodaikanal, and then to Cholamandal Village (near Chennai). Then about open places. Onto another village where the villagers “invite” rain god. Compare your experience if you have to Banaras (Kasi) with that of Ramakrishnan in topic 17. Koovagam follows, then about Delhi. Adivasikal in Kanniyakumari Dist forms the 20th topic. Then Korkai beach, and how a great tamil Dynasty’s Capital city was destroyed by nature.

After narrating about Mountains, he goes to Kayaththaru, the village where Kattabomman was hanged by the Britishers. And how today’s Tamilnadu has totally neglected this place. A very good piece of writing. Then about Rivers, and then about Pazhani. A vivid description from his view of this temple town. Do you know that Pazhani is the only place today where you can find Kuthirai Vandi?

Then about Jain Priests in Karnataka. Comes next Gangai Konda Sozhapuram, the wonderful Temple City (now ruined) EXCELLENT writeup. Why do we neglect such treasures? It is said that there is a 2-year waiting list to see Da Vinci’s art at Paris but our GKS is totally neglected – why?

Then two ordinary write ups later, Ramakrishnan turns into his best yet again writing about vast SANDS. Read this to understand the Manal (sand) EXCELLENT.

31st topic is Armenian Church in Chennai and its bells. Then comes another EXCELLENT, MOST BEST writeup; he visits Chikmagalur with his friend. What happens there – I will not write, I CAN NOT write. I have read it two hours ago, but my heart and mind are so heavy, my eyes are still MOIST. You read it yourself.

Another ordinary topic later, he then views Old Delhi thru his eyes. Good one. 35th topic is another masterpiece, about Ramanujam, the Mathematical Genius. How his house and the street are neglected by Tamilnadu and Tamilians. A masterpiece.

Then about Dhanushkodi beach (how many of you have seen this seashore?), then about Adyar Aala Maram. Kaalaththin Vergal is an apt title for this topic. Then Moonaru. 39th topic is Niram Azhintha Pookkal – another wonderful but now neglected Temple and its finest Oviyangal at Tiruvalanchuzhi, near Kumbakonam. Nalanda is the 40th;

The book ends with the Great Himalayan Mountain Range.
A must read book.

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