Monday, August 3, 2009

Haridwar Day 3

I read in one of Agatha Christie's books that fey is the word that is used to describe an intense feeling of happiness before something bad happens. That was precisely the feeling i had when we left to Haridwar, to see the Mother Ganga at the place where she originated. We left at 5 o clock in the morning in order to avoid the rush hour traffic. Delhi might have a million people, but early morning it was just us and a few enthusiastic morning joggers and walkers. All of them working for a fitter body and a healthier mind. We zipped through the lanes at speeds which one couldn't even imagine in the latter parts of the day. As we reached the outskirts of Delhi, the traffic started getting thicker and all of us in the car had a smug smile. We fooled the traffic! Yay! By the time it was nine o clock we were already on the NH that took us into Uttar Pradesh. As we progressed on our journey, the climate just kept getting better and i couldn't;t have asked for more. We didn't stop for breakfast and got some chips and biscuits to munch on. I was feeling totally bindaas with a packet of uncle chips in my hand, a bottle of slice in another, legs stretched out in the front seat ,music playing in my ears and a flat road with a car traveling at about 100 kmph. This is what i call life. Through the taffic got worse at some places like Meerut and some other towns we came across on the way, we managed fine. The real journey started once we entered the parts under Uttarkhand ( I still thought it was Uttaranchal until I went to some check post, with the driver to pay some road tax). The road was smooth with tall trees on either sides and a slight drizzle started. The AC inside the car and the rain outside created a wonderful ambiance which got the joy in me to a new level! As we went on along the highway, my brother started to complain about some little pain in his stomach. That reminded me about my own stomach which was also hurting, but the difference was, i knew why it was hurting. HUNGER! I gave my uncle advice that all pains will be settled once we get to a restaurant and have something to eat. We spotted this beautifully maintained place with beautiful grass and all somewhere along the route. I had a sumptuous breakfast with a Masala Dosa ( An insult!), a bread sandwich (Yuk!) and finally an omlette (Better! Eat food which they can prepare ;) ) I was back on mood again. But my brother was still feeling a bit uneasy. His stomach trouble gave way to some loose motions. We were in a fix if we should go back and check on him or to continue the journey as we were already half way through. After a little bit of head breaking, we decided to make the journey. The second half of the journey was even better. The rain stopped and the trees on either sides started getting bigger and the climate got cooler and as the clouds clogged the skies, it got darker as well. We passed a few bridges. Frankly speaking, Ganga at these parts was extremely turbulent. It scared the shit out of me, whenever we had to pass over some really long bridges. The nature just kept getting better and better with each passing minute. As we closed in on Haridwar, the mountains( Shivaliks, the foot hills of the Himalayas came into picture). It was a feast to the eyes to see the river snake its way through the hills. After enjoying the untouched and well preserved beauty of mother nature, we entered the holy city of Haridwar.There were two things that caught my eye as soon as we entered the city. One, the city was brimming with crowd as some festival was on (There is always some festival for most parts of the year!). Two, the huge Shiva statue on the river which is more like the city's personalized logo. As i was getting high :P enjoying the ride, my poor brother was getting worse of his stomach ache. We decided to go to a hotel first, though it was not on our list of things. So we got to this hotel something. It was good, but i don't quite remember the name. The thing about new places is that, whenever things go the way we plan everything is clear and perfect. But now, our plan for the day was ruined and now everything appeared unclear. My bro was feeling no better. My uncle being a doc himself, was not ready to give him any conventional standard medicine which any of us would use for such a trouble. He consulted one more physician in Vizag over the phone and sent me pill hunting in a place where medical facilities appeared scarce and everyone seemed to be using Ganga for medication. Anyways, so this guy in a shop looked totally clueless when i showed him the name of the pill i wanted. So, I and the driver traveled a few more kilometers to another medical store. This fellow didn't have that particular medicine but had something with a similar configuration or something :) (I'm not familiar with medical terms for stuff!) Anyway, I called my uncle to find out if I could take that particular pill. This calling itself was another herculean task. The hotels internal phone system was screwed for some reason. So, I had to call this bellboy and he had to go all the way to the second floor, knock, wait for my uncle to answer and then speak to him. All this had to happen when my phone was on roaming. X( Thank god for the plentiful balance on my phone. My uncle is not convinced and asks me to call that another physician in my place to find out if we could use that. After that, I got the green signal for the pill. I went back to the hotel and delivered the stuff.(Frank Martin!) My heart really went out to my bro whose really good time turned sour. Frankly, I myself was not feeling really good. Stuck in an artificially cooled room when the weather outside was something like this. From the window, I saw three full hills with white clouds under them and dark clouds above them. The road below me was filled with people in orange, carrying god's idols with the holy spirit in the air. The trees too were gently swaying as if mocking at me. Finally, I get a green to go out and see some stuff. Um Hmm... Not so fast. Conditions apply. No taking baths in the river. Still, I agreed. But that was after a visit to the doctor. Took us quite some time to find out the biggest hospital in Haridwar. We estimations about the place turned out completely wrong as the place was as big as any conventional town with all the facilities and stuff. My bro was diagnosed with Amebiosis which was no big deal considering that we have good medicines for it. But it meant some more bed rest. Then, after getting back my uncle and brother to the hotel. I made my way to the one of the many ghats there. The place, the people, the river, the temples. WOW! No words. It was one huge culmination of people predominantly orange. It took us about 30 minutes to walk a kilometer. To see the people worship a river like that, with so much of fervor and devotion. Ain't possible in any other place on the face of the planet. There was people taking holy dips in a river that was carrying ice-cold muddy water.
All due to a single wonderful phenomenon which keeps human race and relationships running, FAITH. Faith that it is auspicious, faith that something for the better will happen.
The river was also majestic with full flow owing to the on time monsoons in that part of India. Then the stoke of sheer luck came, right out of the blues. We were just in time for the evening aarthi given to Ganaga mata each evening. The aarthi went something like this. The priests of three temples on the banks of the river come out around 7.00 PM in the evening and give aarthi to the river for bringing them prosperity. Thousands of people rather each evening to watch this grand spectacle. The sun was just dimming as the lights shone like gold, glittering under the darkening skies.
As one of the priests lifted the sacred fire into the air, the place reverberated with people muttering, GANGA MATA KI JAI! I unconsciously joined rhythm and it was one of the moments i felt really good for where I was. After that, I really felt content and happy for some strange reason.
. As i saw the lights of the banks fade away into the darkness, I got the feeling that it was worth it.
Content, I came back to the hotel and soon, I was fast asleep after not such a significant meal. Little did I know that the excitement was still not over. The return journey is something that I would not forget for a long long time.

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