Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Theosophical Society

Pictures of the Theosophical Society in Chennai. It is an oasis in the city, where one can find some quiet, the sounds of parrots and caw-caws and owls in the trees, greenness, a path to walk that isn't a battle between human versus driving vehicle. It does have its own conflicted history, which I know little of except that there was the drive to create an encompassing, non-denominational, spiritual organization. Also, there was the anointment of a guru, Krishnamurti, and the eventual frictions and loss of belief that almost always accompanies the naming of a special leader. This all happened many years ago and you can find the history elsewhere. Now, the place feels more like a village held in time, somewhere about 1940 or so. The architecture is colonial/Key West-like. The grounds are maintained, but more in a Southern plantation way than in a Disneyland way, meaning that there are weeds, bushes need to be trimmed, and you hardly see anyone in the whole place, despite the fact that the Theosophical Society has a large chunk of land right in the middle of Chennai.
As you walk the path through the land, you come across different micro gardens. Above, part of the cactus-desert area, which is more a collection of different succulent and cacti, small and large, in a plot of land along the main road. This is Tamil script. It may be someones name or a message; it reminded me of the graffiti that you find on old picnic tables and park benches.
And the piece de resistance of the place: the banyan tree.
This is actually the smaller of the banyan trees. The larger one takes up an area about one-quarter of a mile wide, yet is all one tree, with roots growing down into the soil and then creating a new trunk. But like our redwoods, all of these sub-trees are interrelated through their root structures and depend upon one another for sustenance. Pretty good metaphor, right? (I don't have a picture of the main tree, which has its own keeper who stands in the area to explain the tree and perhaps protect it. I was somewhat intimidated and unsure whether you tip the keeper to photograph the tree, so I just gazed, marveled, and went on.)
Trees are a big, symbolic deal at the Theosophical Society. Along part of the path to the banyan tree, you find small stone or concrete labels with the names of the countries of the world, and each one stands either before a tree, or before a hole waiting for its sapling. Here, especially, the place felt deserted and somehow pulled from a child's story book or something by Hemingway: all world weariness and desire to fight the decay of time.
And a wall around a small temple dedicated to several gods. (The facade of the temple is the first picture in this post.) I love the moss and fatigue of this wall.
So, a little bit more of Chennai. It's good to see some warmth and grass.
Around here, I am measuring sweaters (Juliet, too small this time, but a good learning experience because I actually stopped to try it on about 1/3 of the way in and measure and compare it to the specs in the pattern, and discovered that I'm almost dead-on to the specs and need to start over and go up a size); also, measured my favorite hooded sweater and compared that to the specs for Vivian (I might want to widen the waistline, make the sleeves and hem a little fuller, and the hood longer, but this is why I bought my yarn at my LYS - this sweater looks tough and I will need assistance and support); and my latest Foliage (final answer: for me, a woman's small takes 80 stitches, not 96, even when I have gone down to a size 6 needle instead of the 7's called for in the pattern.) And noodling away at starting a venture into yoga therapy. I'm working on putting together a brochure, figuring out the logistics of a (very bare bones) Web presence, meeting here and there to talk about yoga therapy, and trying to remember to keep some business cards on hand to give out when I do find someone who is interested.


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