Getting away from the crowd we lugged our backpacks in search of a place for the night. We walked ahead until I saw a building perched a little high and it seemed like it was away from the rest of the lodgings. I pointed it out to Bhim, it was a government guest house. Very neat and comfortable, this was the respite we were looking for.
The price was a tad higher but by that point we didn’t care. The moment I saw the super comfortable room and a small balcony with a view of the mountains and away from the crowd, I was sold. There were an older couple behind us haggling for a room that was a fixed government rate. The lady kept bothering and asking us if we agreed to the price. We didn’t care nor respond, we shut the door to block out noise. We had enough of it.
A clean hot bath and we felt human again. We got out to a small dhaba on the other side of the road. The kind man at the dhaba told us it would take 15 minutes for the food to get ready as his wife would make it fresh. 15 minutes went to one hour, but we were too tired and also didn’t want to pressurise the kind man. The whole family was working in the dhaba right from his young son serving us water to the man’s brothers helping their bhabhi(sister in law) to make rotis.
It was also very soothing to hear M S Subbalakshmi’s rendition of Vishnu Sahasranamam. The man was playing it in the dhaba. To hear her voice after a day like this calmed us. It reminded us of home. The home where we grew up listening early mornings to her Subrabhatham and Bhaja Govindam.
Right then the food arrived and it was so good I tell you. Hot rotis with bhindi masala and Paneer Bhurji. I thanked and prayed from my heart for the entire family. They slowly healed us back to normalcy.
As we were paying up, the man thanked us for not creating a fuss, for patiently waiting for an hour for the food. His innocent eyes took us in. In despair and helplessness, he and his family provided us good food. We didn’t know if we would stay here tomorrow, we had no clue, we thanked him profusely.
It was full moon, we decided to go for a stroll. It was a brightly lit sky and even though our bodies ached we couldn’t resist walking and being out there.
With all vehicles at a standstill and everyone inside their rooms we were the only ones on the road with total quietness. Bhim and I spoke about our lives, our parents, about desires and detachment, life and death.
This trip was throwing us one curveball after the other, all we had to do was place our trust in him. For it was him we wanted to visit, the whole journey was about that and we had to take it all, whatever that might be.
We crashed to bed until 6 am. We were woken up with a loud announcement from the police. Bhim woke up with a jump and rushed to the window to listen. It was not clear so he rushed outside for confirmation.
The staff at the guest house were very helpful. The route would open soon and they managed to talk to some guests who came in a tempo that would take us 2 kms till the landslide, then we had to walk then try for another shared vehicle to Badrinath.
Now the question was, should we stay up there or should we come down and stay here? The answer was pretty clear to us. Honestly it was God’s will.
We would spend a whole day up there and come back to the guesthouse tonight. The small town of Pandukeshwar and it’s people showed us kindness and care when we most needed it.
The staff got us hot chai and I sat in the balcony watching the rush of the people and vehicles. And right opposite me were the mountains.
Standing tall, foreboding, magnificent and stunning. Is this why I do it again and again? Pushing myself towards the edge, to the maximum to just get a glimpse of them? How can I not? This holy land, this Dev Bhoomi teaches you so much. Everything can’t be good and everything can’t be bad either..
Bhim had a terrible fever last night so he took a pill and he was feeling much better today. We thought aloud, should we wait for the tempo or should we start off on our own earlier. Naturally we chose the latter option.
We got out thanking the staff with our backpacks until one of them told us to leave our backpacks in the room, why lug it around? We were anyways coming back in the evening. We could carry a lighter shoulder bag. It made sense, so much sense that we would realise how much that would help us later.
We were set, all set to meet him, if possible, Badrinath..
To be continued..