Film footage from the South Indian city of Madurai in 1945.

I have fond memories of this city. Some places seep into you, leaving a part of themselves running through your veins and forever changing you. For me this is Madurai.

Of course part of it has to do with my age. As a teenager from the American south, the south of India was about as far away a place as you could imagine. I was still at a very impressionable age, so while for some people their formative experiences are all situated in suburban family rooms and bowling alleys and fraternity houses, many of mine were in ancient temples and slums and villages.

Many of the places in this film are familiar. There are more trees and it certainly looks more peaceful, but in places this ancient I guess that several decades can hardly erase a place’s essence. I spent countless evenings on my rooftop, smoking Gold Flake cigarettes and staring at the massive Meenakshi Temple towers down the street at the large minaret (not yet built at the time of this film) several alleyways over.

The Vaigai River is a very familiar site too. The launderers busy at work, the ruins of pillared hall in the midst of the wide, trickling river. I passed over it many times, most often standing sandwiched in a city bus with a hundred people and catching sight of the river scenery if I was lucky.