Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rishikesh Diaries


Part 1
An early morning, its raining heavily here and I sit by my window writing these transient thoughts before they evaporate to these fleeting clouds. Rains play a deterrent role to people who want to go somewhere but for me, who is going nowhere, it is a pleasant sight. The clouds banging in the mountains, rains falling on the tin roof, its a musical treat to my ears. It facilitates my escape from the city of my actions to the hills and the mountains of my reverie.

Part 2
In Rishikesh, arrive two genre of seeking people: Indians and foreigners.. Indians flock in masses and hover around the temples seeking religious blessings whereas foreigners flock in individually and hover around ashrams seeking that well advertised Oriental spirituality. I wonder how many really find what they seek. I am an outsider, an ascetic in my own religion, escaping my city discontentment, here for the river, for the mountains and for the clouds.

Part 3
I sat in that dilapidated bookshop near Lakshman Jhoola, flipping through the pages of second hand books, thus ignoring my life in the most agreeable fashion. And then I felt a tug on my shoulder only to realise that it was the old man who was the owner of the bookshop. I have visited his shop often to actually befriend him. But this afternoon visit to the bookshop was a bit sad because of the changes in the arrangement of books: what I considered good books had taken a back shelf and best sellers laid ahead. I asked the owner as to why such a trend specially by a man who was a lover of books. He said that he hardly visited the shop anymore and that his son was taking charge of the shop. He smiled and added: "Son, you are so old school like that girl who keeps fighting with me to allow her to borrow books from my shop, my son refuses her because he thinks she should pay to buy. I usually ask my son to allow her to borrow as the books which she reads hardly sell these days".

Part 4
I bought lot of Panchtantra and Amar Chitra Katha books from the bookshop and went searching for a school to donate it to. I found a school in Rishikesh but realised that my books would not be valued much by the children of fairly well-to-do parents of that school. So I went up the Himalayas looking for a village where I could donate them. On my way, I met a girl and asked her if there was a school nearby. She said there was no school but an orphanage and that she worked there. I asked her to take me there. Together and apart we walked along the hill's sharply turning paths to the distant orphanage. Foreign to us, our steps were united, but they also went separately, for we were two different minds, unaware of what was going in each other's minds. We were almost quiet until I handed over those books to which she just thanked me for the rare act.

Part 5
 In the evening, I sat by the Ganges reading my book, listening to songs,observing that beautiful solemn sadness in all great things- in high mountains, in the vociferous river. As a pleasant break from those particularly lucid moments of contemplation, I saw that same orphanage girl stepping down the ghats towards me. Truth or untruth, she told me that she spent her evenings at the same place. Unlike last time, this rendezvous of ours was not silent but we discussed life in general. I realised she was quite discontented with her city life and had thus had quit her city job and spent time in the orphanage. She blamed too much advertising for most of the city problems. How every advertisement showed happy, good looking people and promised how buying their product will make them happy. In the midst of her talk, she asked me if I was happy and contented and I said nothing but smiled. She told that I looked like a guy who was beyond dimensions of happiness and sadness. We talked and talked until it started raining heavily.....

I felt