Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mysore Palace From the Inside

The day after I saw the Mysore Palace lighting ceremony, I queued and paid up to go inside the palace and take the tour.

The palace was completed in 1912, the same year Titanic sailed, and the architecture and design are strikingly similar. Everything is gilded pink, gilded blue, gilded sea-green. There are lots of columns, and curving staircases, and rooms with ceilings painted with stars and cherubs.

Despite what some of my friends considered the "tackiness" of this decor, it was evident that a lot of care had gone into its creation. The best materials were used. Nothing had been done halfway; nothing was just "painted on." The Mysore Palace was a clear example of the best work that money and influence could buy.

And it made me wonder: what must it be like to live in such a place? To be surrounded by the finest materials, arranged in perfect balance? It made me think again of the difference between visiting my parents' home and returning to my graduate student apartment. The former, built in 1908, is solid wood, sturdy, its foundation sunk into the ground. It's a home that survived tornadoes. When I am there, I feel calm and protected.

My graduate student apartment, on the other hand, is made of... well, plaster and drywall, and something is always falling apart, and the stairway is warped and crooked. When I am there, even though I like the place (reasonably enough), I always feel a little off-balance. The building is transient, because nothing is built to last, and I am transient within it.

So I looked up at the ceilings of the Mysore Palace and thought "what must it have been like to live surrounded by this?"

Editor's Note: She knows that the Mysore Palace, and perhaps even her parents' Victorian, was built "upon the backs of..." That's another issue entirely, and one that should be taken into account -- but the question she is asking has less to do with the socioeconomic complications of the creation of a luxurious building but simply "what would it feel like to wake up in it?" Adding the social concerns, unfortunately, makes the answer only "guilty." Which is why she left them out of the original query, which has more to do with the idea of balance and solidity.

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