Sunday, March 18, 2012

Family Visits in Chennai

The Saturday after arrival, we visited my husband's "doctor brother", Parthasarathi, who lives with his wife, Vasantha, son, Hari, and Hari's family in a section of Chennai called Panaiyur. As I mentioned in my last post, Chennai is so spread out whole sections warrant a name of their own. Travel time has to be calculated. Twenty miles can be an hour's journey in non-rush-hour traffic. During commuter hours it's longer.  

Panaiyur is a rural area, on the way to Mahabalipuram (a city famous for its temples), and is a few blocks from the ocean. A lovely breeze cools the air. Houses are on large lots that are verdant with trees and bushes. The family's home is new to them, but the previous owner designed the house along lines that are compatible with the Indian version of Feng Shui. It's spacious, with balconies and arches. In the center hall—what we would call the living room—a swing suspends from the ceiling, which I loved sitting on. (Here we are below, chatting and swinging, chatting and swinging.)
Me, Soundara, Vasantha

Parthasarathy has always loved plants, so he spends a lot of time gardening, when he isn't perusing medical journals. (He is retired, but like everyone in the family, he loves continuing to learn and do research. Whenever we go to India, my husband consults him with any medical questions, as he can be trusted to know the latest medical wisdom.)  
Parthasarathy, Rajan's 3rd brother, who specialized in Tuberculosis, but stays current on developments in other medical concerns as well.

Me, Vidya, Anusha, & Hari, contemplating Patrhasarathi's garden.
3 brothers, Parthasarathy, Ranganathan, & Rajan.
Anirud, Adithya in back, Vidhya, Hari, in front. A beautiful family. I would love to paint a portrait of them.

I had met Hari's wife, Vidya and their son, once before, on our second visit to India in 1989. Adithya was only a toddler then, and Hari was working abroad. And I met Hari for the first time at another grand-nephew's wedding, in 2006. It was nice to spend time with them all together, and get to know them better, along with their youngest son, Anirud, who has just started college. 

Vidya speaks and teaches French. When she was in college, her French class visited Switzerland in an area not far from where my nephew, David, and his wife, Brigitte, live. (How I wished there was a way to introduce them.) A grandniece, Parthasarathi's and Vasantha's granddaughter,Anusha, joined us for lunch (a new feast, since Vasantha is another fabulous cook in the family.) Anusha's sister lives in Fremont, California and just recently had a new baby girl, so Vasantha made arrangements to send back frocks for her. 

The day passed much too quickly. But we were thankful for the chance to see them all again. On return to California, poems about India have kept welling up in my mind, inspired by journeys across the vast city and visits to all the households. 

How about you? Do family visits inspire your urge to write? Do visits to other lands make your thoughts turn to poetry?


Rosi said...

You're lucky to have such a lovely family and that you are able to visit them in India. Sounds like a wonderful time.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for this gentile description of this faraway land. You make it feel like the home it is for you and Rajan. Visiting family never gives me poems. But being at home does. I seem to need the settled quietness.


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rosi, yes I do feel lucky we can visit them. It's a long trip, but worth it, for as long as we can.

Skeeter, like you, I need settled quietness for poems. But, oddly enough, I get that in India, between visits. There are long intervals at my in-laws' home, where Soundara and Ranganathan are busy, and I have quiet time to mull over everything I've been seeing and feeling. So, it all goes into the journal for later, when I get home.

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth, Your family trip sounds so exciting. I can't say mine would be interesting enough to blog about.... But I do write when I'm visiting family, surprisingly. I don't know what it is. But when I'm surrounded by my siblings, I feel inspired to write. :)

Kimberly said...

I would definitley be inspired to write by visiting other places. Your pictures remind me of my husband's family. :) It sounds like you had a really wonderful time.

Denise Covey said...

Hello Elizabeth. More beautiful family snaps and interesting commentary. Thank you.


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Linda, thanks for your comment. I think it's that special energy you feel around family.

Hi, Kimberly, thanks for stopping by. Yes we did have a great visit with them. And there is something about going out of your usual environment that sparks writing.

Hi, Denise, glad you enjoyed the pics and commentary. I will be getting back to writing themes soon, but family is still buzzing around in my head. :-)

Terri said...

Thanks for the additional photo´s. I just adored the swing in the "living room". What with the picture and your decription, I was there swinging and smelling the perfume from the garden.
Home trips unfortunately do not move me to write poetry as you are aware..but the idea of a swing in the bodega springs to mind!

Tanya Reimer said...

What a beautiful journey. Inspiring yes, how can it not be? And to see family after so long!

Enjoy your trip.

And honestly, the swing... it brought to memory a picture I'd drawn as a kid. "My perfect house" Every wall was covered in books and in the middle were swings and sofas. lol. I can't believe I forgot that. I better get me a swing to lounge on.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Terri and Tanya, yes, I so want one of those swings! Unfortunately, there is no place in our house to put one, and even our front porch is a little small for one, but it's such a lovely idea. And not that uncommon there. This is the second one I've seen inthe home of a relative and a more distant relative, and I've seen one on a neighbor's porch in Trichy.

cleemckenzie said...

Visiting my family in other parts of the world is always inspiring--a lot of awe in those visits. I keep thinking how our gene pool has spread from Switzerland to England to Spain and the U.S. Amazing isn't it and expressing all of the feelings I have about that is best done in poetry.

Loved your description of your family.

Thanks for stopping in at the Write Game to say hello. See you again here and there.

Carol Riggs said...

Wow, a family visit overseas! I'm so glad you had a chance to go and get to know them better. Sounds like a great and enjoyable experience.

I don't think family visits inspire me to write...unless just in general because I've had a break and can't wait to get back to my routine. LOL I've never visited another land or country--unless you consider Alaska one. I lived on the island of Sitka, AK, when I was 12, and it was so different from CA that it FELT like another country!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Visiting a wonderful place and family. . . What could be better? It seems like you had a really great time.

Visiting family doesn't usually inspire me to write because I have no time or energy left after all the visiting. : )

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Lee, Like you, I have family scattered over the globe. We go to Spain a lot, Galicia. Where do you go in Spain?

Carol, my husband and I went on a cruise to Alaska once, and it really is a different world. We were in Glacier Bay, absolutely gorgeous.

Cynthia, well when we came back, I didn't have the energy for awhile, because I was so jet-lagged. But being plunged into another world does make the creativity flow.

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like a lovely trip seeing your family. Lucky to get to experience the other culture while visiting relatives.

Visiting family, or any holiday for me, is always good because I get a break from writing and get to mull over any plot problems.

Claudia Del Balso said...

India is in my "To visit" list. I have two friends that have been there and they loved it. I bet it's a wonderful experience. By the way, I love the swings in the living room. It seems like a lovely house. When I travel abroad, I definitely get inspired to write short stories. Years ago, I was into poetry, so yes, I wrote poems about countries that I considered special to me. Thank you for sharing these lovely photos and your fabulous experience in India.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Nick, I agree. Those trips are good times to mull over writing problems. And yes, I feel quite lucky to have such a warm experience in a culture I didn't grow up in and am learning so much about.

Claudia, thanks for stopping by. Travel does the same thing to me, too. I think it's the freshness of being out of your routine and seeing everything with new eyes.

Robyn Campbell said...

Sounds as if you had a wonderful visit. Everyone should experience different cultures. It is so important to understanding and living together on earth. Thanks for teaching me. :-)