Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Our Holy Dip

Our two day trip to Haridwar-Rishikesh (21st – 22nd) was energy and fun. Wish I could borrow the keyboard from hill goat and script a travelogue. Never mind, I’ll give it a shot.

The Shatabadi at 6.55 in the morning was too hard to catch after Mauli’s late night birthday bash….but we managed. Thanks to mom-dad for literally packing us up and throwing us at the station, dot on time. For Mauli, the train compartment was a room that had suddenly started to move. The journey started well, we were excited and on a high from the previous day…the enthusiasm level was so high that even the horrible cutlets for breakfast didn’t taste bad.

As we reached Haridwar, a 10 minute ride from the station to Khukhrain Bhawan (don’t ask me the reason for this name) was inviting amidst the welcoming hustle bustle in the market. The rooms had been already booked for us and we weren’t supposed to pay a penny (sounds good na?). As we were to move in to our allotted room, the manager demanded advance rent. Anuj couldn’t refuse and shyly slipped the money into the hands of this snow-haired gentleman.

At haridwar market, floating jot near the ghaat, duo at Chandi devi mandir, Mauli enjoying his meal
Our free booking was also entitled to meals at subsidized rates, but when we asked for food, we were refused. A frantic call back home gave me the realization that we were in a wrong place. Now who in the world could think there could be two ashrams with the same funny name? But there were.

After a failed argument with the snow-haired gentleman we persuaded each other saying how lucky we were to be in an ashram which is right across the ghaat: the har ki paudi. Only later we started to realize that this was for real. After an invigorating dip in the Ganges and a tummy-full puri-chola meal near the ghaat (I hope my gym instructor misses this one), we drowned…in the bed. Got up to catch on the evening aarti: more than a thousand devotees offering their prayers with the traditional om jai jagdish aarti, divinity and serenity, picturesque and soulful. Post aarti we did float our jot (a small leaf boat filled with flowers and a lamp to be lit) in the Ganges and offered prayers for our ancestors and future generations (hmm…romantic).

A evening well spend with me, Ana, and Mauli sitting on the ghaat left lonely post aarti, well lit between the darkness of the approaching night, with Gods from the temples smiling at us. A dinner of chulhe ki daal, tandoor ki roti, and pyaaz and we gave in to the insistence of our bed to consume us. Day 1 was hectic day.

For our adventures on day two, wait for the next post. (For those who read hill goat will know where this comes from)

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