…as you enter the three centuries-old Dutch fort at Sadras. I won’t describe the fort for you. Sriram has done it well enough. The fort, built in the 17th Century speaks volumes of a past long dead, an era gone by. I enter the fort and wish I were born in those times. I wish I could live there, experience the life of the times, fight all those wars, save the fort from ruin. I know that’s a crazy thought, but hey! One can dream, right?
I take a look at the ancient cemetery inside the fort. Thankfully, today it is open. As we step in, I feel an easy calm. I forget that I am Amrutha, that I am living in 2009, or even that I am with two others. I forget to speak. The ASI employee who takes us around is generous with his time, and gives us plenty of information. But, I am in a completely different world. I take in what he tells us, complete with the dates and events, but somehow, don’t feel like listening at all. He tells us to approach the main office of the ASI in the Secretariat in Chennai for more information. I am still not impressed. I can only wonder what happened here all those years ago. I can only try to relive those moments.
I take a walk around the fort, following the ASI employee and Sriram. Both seem completely self-assured, almost as if they know this place inside out. They probably do. This is my first time here. I get to the place that was once a kitchen. I see a flight of stairs going up and decide to climb. Sriram is right behind me. We take in the view of the sea from there. At this point, I turn, and see red. Right in front of me, on the dome of the centuries-old warehouse, is graffiti. Some random guy called Suresh has declared his love for someone else in ugly scratches all over the dome. What the heck? Can’t we even respect our heritage? I’ll never understand.
Recovering from the blow, we continue walking around for nearly half an hour, shooting pictures at every conceivable angle, forty-four in all. When we finally finished with the fort, all I felt was marvel at what an old, broken building can do to you. It is, after all, not just a building. It’s a piece of history, beautiful in every way.