16 January, 2008

Rasmai Ramble II

Last weekend I found myself speeding off towards another few days of bliss, to my village - Rasmai - this time surrounded by lots of friends, inane jokes, food enough to feed an army and the kind of cheer that would lift even a Marvin's mood.

Starting off two hours later than the scheduled departure, we were clamouring for food very soon. Seven ravenous souls began the scout for the "perfect dhaba".

"Who wants to eat what?"
"Paranthas!!!"
"Which kind?"
"Aaloo"
"Gobhi"
"No way, mooli"
"Mooli?"
"Yup"
"Wow. Mooli."
"Mooli?" Guffaw. Guffaw. "We'll have a ' windy' day indeed."
"We can run this car on the CNG (completely natural gas) you will spew out."
And then began the mooli fart jokes which sustained us longer than the paranthas themselves.

As we drove towards Mathura, the skyline presented itself to me in its characteristic urbane flamboyance. What caught my eye was the fact that the only shapes I could distinctly recognize were temples and towers. Temples, their spires yearning to touch the heavens, the mobile and tv towers looming larger than everything else. The new and the old. Not competing, just co-existing side by side.

Then we turned left towards Vrindavan, the holy land of Krishna, the prankster, the lover, the philosopher, the flute player, the blue-skinned god. Discarding our shoes and socks in the car we hurried out to Baanke Bihari - one of the most reverred of temples, the holiest of the holy, which houses baanke (crooked) bihari (Krishna). It is said there are two crowns on the idol because if you look closely, you can see Radha and Krishna in it. I nonchalantly let that piece of trivia fall past me unheeded. Stories just make the temples more alluring, the idols more mystical, the faith more sacrosanct. And then suddenly the crowds around us broke out in a cheer. The doors had opened. The aarti was beginning. The bells were clamouring to be heard. Three women near me hugged each other, tears streaming down their faces. "We have seen the lord,"they cried. The man in front of me began clapping loudly, in time with the chanting rising from all around. I marvelled at the spectacle unfolding around me. It was surreal, the drunken devotion, the ecstatic upheaval of spirits, the collective joy. Then as if by magic it all stopped. The aarti was over. Silence shrouded us all. The pandit came out and showered holy water on the crowd. Again and again the cool scented water fell over me. My eyes were dry and yet my face all drenched. Someone close by exclaimed with conviction - "Hamare paap dhul gaye." I wondered. Was it so easy? At least the exclaimer believed so. Wouldn't it be easier to be able to believe like him? I licked off a drop of the water. It was sweet and flavoured with tulsi, sandal and rose. I liked to believe it would wash away my sins. And for a nanosecond I convinced my filthy soul it did.

The guide (who had irritatingly latched himself onto us for a sum of Rs. 20) hooshed us out of the temple and started us on a crazy Vrindavan tour. We pranced in Nidhi Van known for its weird trees which grow horizontally (this being attributed to the fact that they prefer to be in close touch with the dust the Lord walked upon). We met animals in varied stages of health/age/life etc. Being puppy season there were bunches of fluff visible everywhere, little piglets ran after mama pig in the gutter, a calf stood in the corner chewing on its tail, some crows swooped down to feed on a ladoo.



This is not as brown a picture as the first glimpse may make you believe. Look at the very inquisitive dog on the far right. There is one of those very heavy quilts (you know they are actually bought by the kilo!!) sunning itself on the roof of the chai stall. The puppies are deciding whether the fen I am about to offer them is worth waking up for. The dog in the foreground is curled up in feigned nonchalance (Feigned because if this was a video, you would see him eating all the stuff and chewing on my fingers). The men are straining to watch what a bratty city kid in her nightsuit is doing. The cross-legged girl on the charpai is carefully looking at her pink dress. And the drops of water on the mud on the right actually came out of mufflered man on the right a few seconds ago.

The twenty-ruppee guide was of course way smarter than us, urging us to pay "financial" homage to his dear gods at every temple. Interestingly, Nelly had been singing "Must be the Money" on my phone just a while ago. An hour later of walking on every stone on every narrow street Krishna might have as much as laid a piece of his toe on, we plopped ourselves into the able hands of ISCKON and their heavenly food.

Afternoon stole upon us in its characteristic lethargic way and we dozed off in no time. I had just begun drifting through fluffy clouds, each of which had its own set of very strange dogs who could speak in Russian (weird) which I could understand (weirder), when the driver woke us up. He was confronted with THE problem: a fork in the road. Everyone looked expectantly towards Didi and me. Afterall we were going to OUR village, where we had spent EVERY winter break and MOST summer ones too. Sheepish looks stole over our faces. We were living upto the reputation of the female fraternity's mental retardation when it came to directions/maps/roads. "We can ask someone for the way out of Mathura, after THAT we can direct you."

"Groan. Oh Gawd. Will we ever reach? Baah.Other uninviting grunts and moans."

However, much to everyone's surprise and relief, we DID reach the village. And one and a half days later, we found ourselves weaving our way back through Delhi's incorrigible traffic. Overkill was playing this time. It drowned away the horns and the thoughts.


9 comments:

  1. People are talking a lot about God these days. HE seems to be everywhere. Is it the new fad?

    The attention to details is remarkable. Especially the caption of the photograph and the description of the temple aarti. You remembered all that? This is something I have been trying to achieve myself, to no avail of course.

    Sense of Direction? I have experienced it first hand. Going around in circles was not that pleasant either. You might agree. Or not........

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  2. Anonymous9:35 pm

    :) very nicely put. what a lovely time we had..

    dids

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  3. Marvin: I wonder why everyone calls God a "HE". Its not a feminist thing (feminism is a weird concept I barely comprehend). I just wonder why not a "SHE". Conventions of course. Or maybe because it was a he-god I was talking about.

    About the attention-to-details club. Its an elitist group of the nation's intelligensia. Although they say 'try and ye shall succeed', I don't think any amount of toil will get you membership.Awwww. Sorry to burst the bubble.

    Sense of direction? Going around in circles: reminds me of dog poop. And that's not too bad a thing. You may agree. Or not....


    Dids: I knowwwww. Next in line is Dehradun

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  4. The 'brown' picture was indeed very brown...but the caption in green helped it seem like a brown masterpiece...quite a pic !

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  5. Anonymous1:15 pm

    ur dehradun changed my life man..

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  6. Anonymous3:41 pm

    the cover photo is lapatabangaaaaaaaa...meditation worthy ... seriously...


    ani

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  7. Piper: Exactly! Just makes you realise you need to look close enough. Universal law.

    Anon: It was not Dehradun. So don't curse the place. And if you had taken the time/effort to read the post you would learn its aboout a place some 13 hours away from Dehradun. :|

    Ani: Your meditative ass is back? And I, sitting in saadi dilli manage to get the lapatabangaaaaaaaa picture. :D

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  8. Vrindavan! I've always wanted to go there (I can say that about most places.. hehe!).

    So you tell a story (pretty well) and pose questions too... And, hasn't S/he been a fad in India forever (for as long as anyone can remember!). Blind faith and crazy beliefs - help a lot of people survive. Strangely, it can cause way too much damage.

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  9. shobha5:18 pm

    In and around Mathura it often feels like one is stepping on earth on which Krishna must have stepped! Your attention to detail is awesome.

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