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finally in the end and at last we arrive at saratha vilas

My flight from Mumbai to Paris was about 8½ hours. Four of my fellow travelers had a much longer flight from Portland, Oregon to Mumbai with a layover on the east ooast.

After a humid night in a Mumbai hotel with the air conditioner running constantly, we took a flight from Mumbai to Chennai in southern India, where we had a layover of a couple hours.

From Chennai we flew for about an hour to Tiruchirapalli. We arrived about 14:30 when we boarded a small bus for a two to three hour ride on narrow country roads to the village of Kothamangalam, the center of the Chettinad region of India, our final destination for this part of the trip.

When we had finally arrived at Saratha Vilas, where we would stay for three nights, the staff welcomed us with warm smiles. It was nighttime. We could see little. We had not burned out but were ready to slip into sleep. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

Could the schedule have been more challenging?

That was the means by which we arrived in southern India. A fair question now would be: “Was the trip worth it?” (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

The next morning we could see the entrance to our new world. The sets of photos here show three areas of Saratha Vilas from the street entrance to the large reception room to the sitting and community area. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

Do you know the story of the blind men and the elephant? It is a Indian parable about some blind men who touch an elephant in order to discover what it is. Each man touches a different place. Later they gather and discuss what they thought an elephant might be. They all disagreed.

An interesting question might be: “Would each blind man have learned what an elephant might be if he had experienced all parts of the elephant rather than one part?” (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

“The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.”

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In a way, my camera makes me visually impaired even though I look through its lens. It makes the person who looks at the photographs visually impaired as well, someone who can see only a smart part of the big picture that I happen to present.

My fellow travelers would have seen these three different spaces, illustrated here. The frustration is that the whole picture cannot be captured: the powerful and heartwarming moments we felt after the long journey. The journey was long and we did not know how it would end. If we had known how the next day would unfold, our journey there would have been more difficult: we would have impatiently anticipated our arrival.

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