Settling in comfortably on our well used recliner with a warm throw K and I tuned in to watch the next two episodes of The Story of India on PBS. The third episode showed the period of the Kushan rule and Emperor Kanishka. Colorful images of Mathura and Ayodhya were a visual assault on the eye. Watching Michael Wood speak lovingly about India we felt goosebumps.
The next hour however, which was aptly titled India – The Golden Age showed the reign of the Chola Kings down south. K and I sat mesmerized by the images of the fertile paddy fields in Thanjavur, the imposing Periya Kovil and the generation of stapathi’s working on bronze images of Nataraja. Interviewing the average person on the street, Wood interspersed images from modern and medieval India that was simply lovely. As the camera zoomed in on a woman bending over drawing pure white kolams on freshly cleaned homefront, it panned out to show a moped ride over it effortlessly. The images of Annamalai deepam in Tiruvannamalai, the rustic images from Tiruvisalur all touched me in a manner no TV program ever has.
Few images have drawn me as the episode that aired yesterday. Long after the program was done, I was wondering what about it impressed me so much. Like the Bud Lite ad talks of “Drinkability”, I wonder if it is the “Relatability” of it all. Watching the cameras fondly focus on the giant Nandi in the Periya Kovil, I remembered walking along the length of its prakaram with my family in tow not too long ago. As the images flashed on TV I imagined King Rajarajan arriving at the temple with great pomp and splendor. There is something about the lush paddy fields that evokes images from a childhood past. Hearing about the 1000 plus year History of the place where my roots are made me cosmically linked through time with my ancestors. It sure was a transcendantal experience.
Embedded is a clip from the episode that aired yesterday.