There is a muffled tune in my head. It rings and fade away leaving me puzzled.
Wish I could get a hold of it. Wish I could hear it again. For that I had to go Rishikesh. Not that the visit would make the tune clear, but it could give me another tune or dampen the tune that could be just a noise.
My dear friend : Chai & Old monk!!
I was expecting rishikesh to be a quaint little town filled with babas, people around doing yoga. Far away from human drama and carnival. But to my surprise, it had a different story to tell.
Tapovan that’s the only thing I knew that night. It is where the moustache hostel, my stay which was 249/night and pretty exciting.
Bus station was empty like my mind on touchdown. When in doubt, have chai!
Chai has been my life saver since ages. It’s merely a beverage spot, but the best place to socialize. It gives a moment to think and re-calibrate your compass in a new place; to ask around and find the basics of the city.
Since it was late at night, I couldn’t risk a recce.
While passing by haridwar in the bus, i felt[scared] that RSKH could be overcrowded. The feeling wore out in the blue cold night as the auto throttled all the way up to the hills, my nerves settled at normal pressure.
As I checked in the Moustache hostel, the empty dorms excited me to no end. There is no couples cuddling, group noise, creeped out junkies, neither the over excited travellers. It was all peaceful. This is what I would call a perfect beginning.
Post fresh up, I went onto common lounge on the terrace. There I met Rick and Lily. A friendly heads-up, and into our own business.
Winter pulled out its best act on rishikesh the following days. Even with 3 blankets, I was shuddering in a completely closed dorm. I had no option but to resort to the infamous Old Monk to survive those nights.
Morning is another story. 8AM and the sun came out like there was no winter.
When someone says they been to rishikesh, the mind automatically redirect to a frame in which one finds solace and receives gyaan from babas in saffron. Or the infamous Mary-Jane. Society has its own ways of generalizing things, reducing the best into just another cultural stereotype.
Most say that this place is religious. Many argue that it’s a spiritual place rather than a religious one. I was curious to learnt it by myself.
knowing is always better than believing!!
As I walked down towards Ramjhula, the most noticable[frustating] aspect is that there was a lot of honking. I couldn’t resist rant on the drop of a hat that time with everyone about the honking. I was praying that the sunday should be soon over.
But despite the honking and chaos, underneath the suspension bridge, the water was fierce-fully, silently flowing. There were no obstacles near the ghats in ram-jhula, the river may appeared calm, but its ragingly flowing along. The soft breeze on the banks in the bright sun had a transcending vibe to it.
A girl sitting few steps away was either clicking selfies or speaking over the phone. I couldn’t help but notice. She had that nervous look of getting around alone all over her face.
We started talking about the place first, about our life miles apart and then she asked to take her photos in good frames.
“Good lord, people still consider a picture with good frame and composition”, I thought I said it just in my mind but I blurted it out accidentally 😀
How afternoon became mild evening ? I have no clue.
As dusk descends
I was suggested to attend Ganga aarti, I went to Paramarth niketan, the venue.
The attendees there was a strange mix.
A rich father asking his well-groomed son to come join, who refused to come forward and join him near the vedika.
A french man with Om print clothes sitting in erect position with his eyes closed as if he is in deep meditative state.
An englishman with his Indian wife near the vedika.
The nervous girl whom I’ve just met : streaming the proceeding to her mother and the regular gathering.
But most surprising of all, it was the ritual performers[conductors] in pleasing red who were children. Some even looked like bhuddist monks.
The proceedings began with sweet enchanting hymns, followed by rituals at the vedika which I have no knowledge of.
I was trying to find the reason and purpose behind this ceremony.
“They are worshipping the river” was the obvious I could read there.
Towards the end, the head priest called out “Sriramji ki” and people say “jai ho”
“#####” ki jai ho
“ganga mata” ki jai ho
“bharat mata” ki jai ho
I guess the last two chants made sense to me. It was a prayer, a thankful offering to the river for flowing among us.
River that never fades away!!
Another evening after learning “thodi ragam” from the master, I began walking along the river banks to find Lakshman jhula. Weekend people have left the town and its much better without the honking.
As I began walking, the thoughts and questions grew louder
How to be extraordinary in this ordinary world?
We speak as if we know a lot about ourselves. But do we know ourselves ?
Have I met myself yet ?
*blank staring at the river*
When would this echo of virtual time ignored?
When would I experience the wings of no-limit?
Why is the humanity delimited by the thoughts of a society.
*blank staring intensifies*
A million thoughts crossed my mind, triggered by the recent conversations, by the frames I saw, the hospitality I experienced and the smiles exchanged.
“I am glad you visited my city, Rishikesh“, said the guy I shared dinner table with.
“Few places like this one grab you and hold on to you like it happened to me.“, said my dorm-mate
I bonded more with the place while leaving. While waiting for the bus to Jaipur, A good man told me the story and points of further exploration in rishikesh.
Also the mythical tale1 of keeda jal which is only found in rishikesh. Please correct me if you know I am wrong!!
Despite the brief acquaintance, I found a universe for myself in rishikesh.
And word across the universe is that this feeling doesn’t fade.
While Lord Rama was on his quest to save captured Seeta; he was shot in his foot ankle and was badly injured. He almost lost his life.
Lord Hanuman, Rama’s devotee realised/came to know about keeda jal and its healing powers.
He lifted the forest from rishikesh promising that he would bring back the land after saving Rama’s life.
He carried it to Lanka, got Rama treated. But never brought back as promised.”