Of memories, myth and a meandering river
Two elderly professors, a bunch of boisterous lads and a river as old as time itself — who would have thought these could make not just for a rollicking ride, but a riveting tale as well. But that’s what It Happened Along the Kaveri: A Journey Through Space and Time is all about. “I have an emotional attachment with river the Kaveri,” says Padma Seshadri, one of the authors, and going by the reaction of those present at the book launch, she was only echoing their collective sentiments.
The book traces the river Kaveri’s long journey, from her origins in Talakaveri, nestled amid the tall mountains of the Western Ghats, to the ancient port city of Poompuhar where she eventually meets the Bay of Bengal. Her journey is peppered with stories from mythology and history and anecdotes from the lives of people who have shaped the destinies of regions along her banks. Authors Padma Seshadri and Padma Malini Sundararaghavan, who are colleagues in the Department of English at Stella Maris College, say, “Every day that we spent along the river, we found something unique. And we wanted to include all of it in the book. We actually have so much information we could write another three volumes.”
A lot of research has gone into the writing of the book. It even contains interesting nuggets sourced from the famed copperplate inscriptions of the Chola period. Skillfully weaving together history, mythology and personal experiences, the authors make this book more than just a fact file of the river.
V Sriram, the historian who unveiled the book, reminisced , “A dip in the Kaveri, and after that a plate of hot idlis. That was what life was all about those days.”
While Padma Seshadri recalled her childhood spent along the banks of the river, Padma Malini shared a few quirky stories from the book. For instance, she spoke about how Karaikal had its own version of Spain’s La Tomatina festival, in which people traditionally throw mangoes at Lord Shiva.
Malini says the book also looks at music that has its roots along the banks of this mighty river, “Every section in the book starts with a passage from a song. We have also revived rare gems like the Mysore anthem which youngsters of today are not even familiar with.”
Chitra Madhavan, historian and archaeologist, who received the first copy of the book, said “If God gifted us the Kaveri, both of you have gifted us this book.”