“Aapka gaon bahut sundar hai...” I said smiling.
(Your village is very beautiful)
“Hai na? wohi toh.. Pata nahi aap sheher wale kaise rehte ho? Humko toh soch ke hi ajeeb lagta hai ki roz ganga maa ke darshan nahi honge!” she said.
(Yes, how do you city people live? The thought of not seeing Mother Ganga every day is so uncomforting!)
Between the gasping for breath and trying to find my foothold, I braved a glance at the old wrinkled face of the lady sprinting and hopping across boulders making her way through the lush fields flaunting its abundant harvest of soybean and paddy. The turbulent Ganges flowed beneath us, roaring, marking its territory. But there was no turbulence on this lady’s face. It was calm. It was happy.
I had just met her that morning in the little village of Siror on the banks of Ganges and she had offered to take me uphill to see her fields. This little unassuming village was to be my home for 30 days.
As we stopped for breath, overlooking the gorgeous landscape dotted with clear white waterfalls, I thought of the sequence of events that had led me to this spot.
Very often in our lives we take a quick decision that changes the entire course of life. Taking a solo trip to Uttarkashi was one of them. When I boarded my train from Delhi railway station after saying goodbye to my friend, for the first time it dawned on me that I was going to undertake this 12 hour train journey followed by a 6 hour bus ride all on my own... I was going to be Alone.
My mind was filled with apprehensions and possibilities seeded by endless stories of crime shown on TV. I spent the entire train journey clinging on to my bag eyeing every passenger in the train with suspicion and as a potential rapist. Then I spent another 6 hours on a rickety bus, making its way through narrow foggy roads occasionally flying through tiny water streams, hoping that there is no landslide on the way that would entraps us! Needless to say it was an arduous journey. Once in Uttarkashi, I boarded a taxi for the final conclusive leg of the journey and reached Sivananda Kutir, Netala.
“Madam aap Sivananda ashram ja rahe ho?”
(Madam, are you going to Sivananda Ashram)
“Aap thak gaye lagte hain. Par aapke wahan pahunchte hi sari thakan door ho jayegi” proclaimed my taxi driver.
(Don't worry, the moment you reach there, you won’t feel tired anymore.)
I smiled. This was not the first time I had experienced the intense devotion the region has towards the Ganges. She was the solution to every problem from crops failing to SENSEX dropping 100 points. She was the very lifeline of this place.
The unassuming taxi driver was right of course.
The ashram was right on the banks of the river and my room was perched on the river side in a rather precarious way almost floating on the ravaging swirling water beneath.
For many nights thereafter, I lay wide awake in my bed listening to the noisy river flowing right outside my window.
“Has the water level risen?”
“I bet, the river sounds closer and louder than an hour before”
“There was a flood a few years back...maybe this is not the best place to be...”
“Was this the 3rd night? Or maybe the 4th?”
My train of thought was endless.
|The River Ganga flowing right next to the Ashram|
Devotion is a tricky thing. It is staggeringly difficult to find it. But once you do, it is almost impossible to lose it. If you have ever been a traveller you would know that every journey in life teaches you something. For me this journey was a journey of discovering love and how to surrender. It was a journey of knowing that I am always watched over. It was a journey that taught me that there is immense goodness in this world if only we open our eyes and look.
It was a journey that taught me, no matter where we are, we are never truly “Alone”.
Author Bio: After working in the software industry for four years, Priyanka quit her job to take up writing. She is passionate about offbeat traveling, food for soul, meeting new people and sharing their stories, recycling and yoga. You can follow her thoughts, stories and travelogues on her blog Postcard from Life
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