30+ hours.. of not sleeping, of being on tenterhooks, of long night hauls, crowds, a punishing weather,walking under the hot sun and no respite. Weak to the point of fainting on the grimy dusty streets.
We were in Rishikesh, unbelievably so. Unbelievable because this was a Rishikesh we were not used to. Our previous encounters with this holy land was pleasant, soothing, and calming. But now it seemed like we were in a different town. A different energy.
We were hungry, thirsty, no sleep, wading through aggressive loud pushy people in the train, followed by a painfully rough bus journey and long walks under the blazing sun and an ashram to which we finally reached and the staff saying there was no room available inspite of us booking it in advance.
The only person we knew was not in the ashram and on a harsh sunny 3 pm in the afternoon we sat under a peepal tree and wondered what went wrong. I looked at Bhim, he had the same sense of hopelessness like me. With the humidity soaring it felt like 42 degrees, like summer and here we were sitting in the hot sun.
We were consoling each other but to what extent could we comfort ourselves. It was not ok. This was not ok. Telling ourselves, it is what it is was not making sense. We were exhausted. Why were we here? Why did we decide on this trip right after a meditation workshop? Why??
We wanted to lie flat at least for 5 minutes, it didn’t matter where but we were not given that respite either. After an hour or so we were finally called to say there is one room available away from the ashram.
As the watchman took us towards the quarters, the area became really shady, there were workers from Bihar and UP, clothes dried on gates, there was an aggressive energy about it.
We saw the room, infested with moist fungus. The beds and sheets seemed like it hadn’t been cleaned for a month. Dust everywhere with no ventilation, just cacophony of the workers outside. How would this be once the sun set in? Shit! It was 36 hours of facing it all and this is what we get?
Every ounce of our energy was dying but this was no way to stay, even for a minute. We packed in every bit of strength we could get, took our backpacks and walked out.
The sun was blazing yet we persevered, searched and finally got a room in a government guest house and that too was not easy. The greediness of the auto driver, to him refusing to budge to the arguments. When would this end?
The whole atmosphere felt bleak when we got into the room. Bhim said I can’t believe we are still standing after all this. Numbness had set in, our bodies were aching so badly but we didn’t have the guts to lie on the bed for the fear that we would fall ill.
Half an hour into getting inside Bhim asked, shall we go? It’s time to see her..
We had to see her, that’s what we came for, this painful journey, to see her.
To be continued..