It’s a bridge that I have crossed many times. It is the only bridge that runs across the Vaigai River. I mean, there are other bridges but this bridge is the only one that bridges my imagination and memory in a quaint sort of a way.
Hurried thanks must go the “Viceroy Earl of Dufferin on 8th December, 1886”, as the plaque there would say. The man, some 125+ years ago commissioned the bridge. Little would he have imagined that it would stand for so long or that it would see vehicles of this kind and intensity as there are now. BTW the British said that bridge would stand for 100 years and it is already 25 years past its period of best use!
The bridge connects the parts of the city that the river Vaigai divides. There is a shameful trickle put to best use by dhobis and others, that juts out these days that gives the word ‘river’ a rather uncouth bad name. For no fault of the river! Much water is used upstream, but in another sense, much water has flown under the bridge.
When you are born in a city and spend your growing years there, you realise that as much as you think you have grown over the city and move on, the city has actually grown on you. It leaves an inescapably indelible mark on you. A mark that peeks through the cracks in the fort of memory resting between your ears.
At least that’s the effect Madurai has had on me.
The house that I type this in from is in a different city. A very different one at that. With the corporate satchel strung around my shoulder work has taken me further and farther from Madurai.
But the further and farther I go the greater is the longing to come back. It is no Venice or one of those modern cities (although, I remember reading that it carries a sobriquet of ‘Athens of the East’!). The Meenakshi Amman Temple, other temples, the Palace, the Museum, other temples continue to be the calling card!
The city itself is a patch on the potential that resides amidst it. Carrying much of the problems from the past and adding on news ones with élan. More of the change, more things seem to remain the same! Withering under political chicanery and pointless debate.
Yet in its warp and in its weave, the city is home to simple loving people, a unique way of speaking the language, a boundary less desire to stay awake through the night and of course, playing the quintessential host to all those that come in.
This time around I was there for a different reason. But I lugged the camera around just to change my view and see if there was a story to tell. Well, there was one too many a story to share with the world. Never mind if the world is interested in them or otherwise!
A few posts and pictures follow. Of course, would love your views.