Thursday, February 28, 2013

A journey of realizations

So I left B on Thursday evening.
The plan was to go to Vaishno Devi, and Kumbh ka mela, and cousin's marriage. The challenge was to devote adequeate time for each of the activities.

I boarded the bus to the airport and found a seat opposite a couple of Punjabi uncles (one of them sardar). The bus journey was made eventful by the non sardar uncle, who in an attempt to pull out a water bottle from their bag (which had some 6-7 different bottles) managed to pull out two bottles of alcohol and one of soda before pulling out the sada pani bottle. I and the sardar uncle couldnt stop smiling at each other. That icebreaker, and the sardarji asked me where I was going. I replied Vaishno Devi. Its quite prominent among the punjabis, so the follow up question from the non sardarji was 'akele?' (alone). I said yes, and before he could even finish shaking his head in disbelief, sardar uncle replied, to remove the seriousness from the discussion, "tabhi to akele bus me baitha hua hai".  It always amazes me how jovial and quick minded most of the sardars are - Koi tension hi nahi duniya me.

Before the flight had taken off, I had booked an olacab in D. Just wanted to experience the service and all. There was some miscommunication with the cab driver, they called me just as I landed, but reached a different terminal instead of the actual one. Since I was landing for the first time, and was new to the airport, I had to wait some 15 minutes before the cab arrived. But otherwise the experience was fairly good - the driver was well turned up, in decent clothes, the cab was excellent, and the way he drove was also mature - no rash driving. The bill came as 659 bucks.

I left the next morning. The cab I took this time was a normal indica, with a rash driver. He broke countless signals and lanes, though I didnt mind since I had a flight to catch and I was kind of running late. He got me to the airport just in time for my flight. I paid this one 650 bucks.

I was still comparing the two taxis in my mind, when I realized I had to go through additional checkins since I was going to Jammu. I spent an extra 10 minutes, and those were all the difference that was needed for me to miss the flight. After countless pleas, which I knew wouldn't be catered to by Air India at least. I technically reported 40 minutes before the flight departure at Air India counter. A private carrier might have given way (with those customer satisfaction metrics and all), but not AI.

So without wasting further time, I went to the AI ticket booking counter, where an Uncleji employee saw the college sweatshirt I was wearing, and very courteously explained why i wouldnt be refunded any money. He very deftly brought my college into the discussion, and told me how I should try to read the fine prints of such flights from next time onwards. Nothing that I didn't knew already, but still, lesson learnt - when you are wearing a brand, as much as the brand represents you, you also represent the brand. 

I next booked a spicejet flight to J the same afternoon, boarded it, reached J, reached Katra, and checked into hotel.

For going from J->Katra, I had boarded a state transport bus. Two girls, sisters, in their early 20's were sitting next to me. Though ususally I dislike the chatter of women talking continuously, for a change, I was enjoying their conversations. The one next to me had a very melodious and chirpy kind of voice, and I realised overhearing them helped me get over how my day had gone earlier.

At 2120, I left for the hotel to start with the chadai, called up papa first, bought a topi for the head (it had rained a couple of hours back, and so was really chilly).

Most of the ckimb was uneventful, except for one passerby sardarji who chatted for some half an hour while climbing up alongside me and the occasional rainfalls with those droplets hanging in the air. I was walking with an aim to get down early next day, so as to be able to board a flight back to D.

Anyways, I climbed up the 11km in some 3.5-4 hrs.
I searched for a well located cloak room in the next 1.5 hours, freshened myself up, and went for a bath.
The bath was interesting, since the ghat had water coming at almost freezing temperatures, and as soon as I came back, it started to be a scene of hailstorm, with me getting stuck up at the place for almost half an hour before I could move out.

I was planning to have a night darshan, but the plan was spoilt, all hail the hail.

I ditched the plan of going for an early darshan - I had parchi for 6 o clock special darshan (which last for some two hours), and during which I intermittently slept for some 30 minutes during first 40 minutes, because of the fatigue. Thereupon, I joined the chorus. 

With all the people occasionally dancing around me as if in some trance, I had a very important realization. This wasn't the kind of life I am prepared to lead. At least not at this point in this life.

Anyways, I had the darshan. 
When you go to Vaishno devi, people ask you on returning, darshan kaise huye? I have never been able to answer this question perfectly - i dont even know how one is supposed to answer it perfectly. I just assume man ko shanti milne ko ache darshan kehte honge, and say ache huye. 

I was out by around 8.35

And the flight was at 1.50PM from J, which is 2 hours from K, plus the checkin time meant I needed to checkout by 11.15. I had a helicopter seat booked already from top to base. So I hired a horse (not a pony), to take me to Bhairon Ghati temple above, and then to helipad. 600 he said. 1 hour it will take him he said. 45 minutes it took him. 700 I paid him. I had an experience of my life, as the roads were almost empty, and the horse was afresh from the night. Got a couple of long stretches where the horse would just trot on and on without any stimuli. As they say, mast feeling aa gayi. 

I arrived at the helipad at 9.20, much ahead of my timeline, only to come to know that the helicopter service was suspended because of the fog. It cleared twice during the next 30 minutes, but then a dense fog took cover and after waiting for some 2 hours, I realised that there was no hope of me being able to get that flight now. Full of anger at having gotten another of my plan ruined, I walked down some 10 km in around 1hr30mins and realised that if I would have directly gone down, I wouldn't have missed the flight and would have reached in time.

Lesson learnt: Jako rakhe saaiyaan, maar sake na koi. And jaki maare saaiyaan, bacha sake na koye.

I went to the hotel, completely tired and disgusted, and laid down to sleep.
I got up once, but slept again, too angry with myself at the mess I had created.
I had succeded in wasting some 10000 bucks, all because of a tight plan and compounded misfortunes.

I realised Kumbh was not meant to be.

So, I embarked on journey back to A, cousin's marriage place, full of dejection, late in the night. 2 full days were spent in this travail, as the bus journey is long legged, and I thus reached late - just the night before wedding. I had planned to leave early - the day after the wedding. So I made do of whatever time I had left.

Anyways, I left for J on Tuesday, reached home, counselled our neighbor's son on his career choices (Auntyji had been pretty insistent on doing that since last so many months, and I too needed some minor favors in return). 

Interacting with various people during the journey, I realised, that no matter how smart you may be, ultimately, for a majority of the time, you will have to work with people far less smarter than you. Makes you be more cautious, lest you succumb to your own shortcomings, as well as be alert that you don't turn mediocre, while staying with people less experienced in matters of life than you.

I left for the airport in the night itself, slept for some 3 hours at airport and some 2 hours in the flight to B. The office was closed due to Bharat Bandh, and I found enough time to sleep, while working from home :P

And as far as the Kumbh is concerned, well, I also came to know it happens every three year, so if not Prayag, Haridwar it may be next.