Have you noticed that there are some times in life, when time seems to stand still, or even better, it seems to rewind and you are transported to a different, significantly slower and more enjoyable frame of time? I realise that every year when I go to the Chariot Festival at Mylapore's Kalapaleeswarar Temple, one of the oldest temples in Chennai. This year too, as usual, I put my cell phone off, left my camera at home and set off to see the chariot being pulled by hundreds of devotees. It is amazing how that part of the city seemed to have moved back several decades to a time when people still had time to participate and enjoy social events.
Somehow, during the Tamil month of Panguni (mid-March to mid-April), Mylapore seems to move back in time. The lives of all the people in the neighbourhood revolve around the Chariot Festival and associated events, and these become the favourite topic of discussion for young and old alike; there are peddlers selling all kind of wares (especially notable are the tribespeople who come to the city to sell beads of every imaginable colour), thermacol toys, bows and arrows, hand fans, glass bangles, the streets fill up with vendors of every imaginable kind; bright lights and auspicious colours greet the eye; merry-go-rounds and giant wheels are set up; the fragrance of flowers stimulates the nostrils even as the smell of sweet pongal, curd rice and other freshly prepared food (for distribution to devotees) tingles the taste buds; and the air resonates with the happy squeals of delighted children, the spiritual sounds of mantras being recited, and the holy name of God voiced by the many devotees.
It is moments like this that reaffirm my faith in humanity. Society is not as decadent as it seems. There are people who still enjoy these simple pleasures in life, people who are not really racing blindly to overtake time, people who are still inclined to keep up the rich traditions and culture of our nation, and people who are motivated to spend time with their family and to introduce their children to the same pleasures which they enjoyed in their own childhood.
Moments like these make me wonder if Time, the old gypsy man, indeed put up his caravan and decided to stay for some time, before rushing off again.