My apologies to all my regular readers. It’s been a long 4 weeks since I last wrote an article. It’s just been a crazy month at work, home programs, bit of service here and there and internet taking hours to upload photos at night. So, I am back at writing something as it rains outside, a cool 9 degrees wandering about in the air and a hot heater next to me. I continue where I left off.
I had signed up for a road trip to Katwa starting from the Mayapur temple. In my last few visits to Mayapur, I seldom wandered out of the temple complex. But this visit, I was wanting to be more adventurous. To go and discover parts of Nadia district that were infused with Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. I had read about some of these places from the translations in Chaitanya Caritamrita. Now, I would see them ! So, one evening, I put my name down for the day long tip and I was asked to report sharply at 5:00am the next day. I was already excited as I left the registration table. Going to the place where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sanyasa would be a memorable thing. But then, any trips on Indian roads would be even more memorable.
Almost all those who had signed up for the bus ride must have been as enthusiastic as me since they were all there on time. Except, of course for the bus drivers and the organisers. As the clocked ticked to 6:30am, there was still no progress and devotee temper was rising. Our emotions came in the way of our chanting. When the organisers arrived, a few of the Russian matajis approached them and shared their views on the importance of arriving on time and leaving on time. To which, one of the indian devotee organiser said, “Yes mataji…you are so right…but its all Krishna’s will“. What can you say? We all accepted that as a good enough reason for the late start. All women were packed into one bus and the men into another.
After being used to excellent bus conditions in Australia, getting into and settling into one of the Indian buses was a pastime in itself. From the outside, it looked as if the bus belonged to treta-yuga generation. It probably went through many incarnations before it was bestowed the body of a bus. It was more like those old fashioned tin biscuit box. The seats probably came from a bankrupt movie theatre and the windows were something they remembered to add before handing it over to the new owner.
By the way, what does that sign mean anyway? – “Video No Risk”.
I took a seat right up in the front. My knees came up to my chest, the windows came up to my shoulders and the smelly curtain separating the driver from me, somewhere near my nose. The driver slid into his seat from nowhere, yelled something in Bengali to his mates in the other bus and almost in unison, the 4 odd buses started their motors. Seemed like a F1 racing track preparation. I could see the fumes from the exhaust reaching the front. So much for prevention of global warming matters here.
As we rolled out of the temple, one bus after another and on to the narrow streets of Mayapur, the devotees began to sing Lord Narasimha prayers. I guessed it was more of a plea to get us to Katwa in time rather than a prayer of remembrance and blessings.
As we turned around the railway track and onto the main road, the bus came to a halt. In broken Hindi and some English, the driver declared that the bus had broken down. As a devotee following all the regulative principles, chanting 16 rounds, associating with devotees and reading Prabhupad’s books, I just about managed my anger. This trip to the place where Lord Chaitanya took sanyasa would end in me taking up sanyasa, I thought.
The drivers of all the other buses came out, spoke to each other, kicked the tyres a bit, formed their circle again, some laughter, lit their cigarettes, finished it, looked at the buses again, took leave of each other, boarded the bus, turned on the ignition key and voila ! – the bus started. Mayapur is a place where anything can happen and bus drivers are living examples of miracles taking place in front of your eyes.
The audience, I mean the passengers were happy. Cool air was gushing in now, no traffic holding us up and the rice fields with early morning cows on their morning walks reminded many of the non-resident indians in the bus as to why they left the tranquil region of India to cold places in the west. Many of us felt deeply patriotic. A few minutes later, the driver yelled to us that he was running low on petrol and he had to fill the vehicle up. He assured that there was nothing to be worried about.
………… to be continued (soon, I promise)