Twitteretti told me today is father’s day. I remembered my father who was almost obsessed with travelling. He travelled across India, avoiding people’s attention, carrying only a notebook and pen and little money with him. He left no photograph; after some unpleasant incident in some unknown railway station in rural India, he stopped carrying his camera. He was not careful about preserving those notebooks too. Incidentally I found couple of those faded notebook few days back and thought of translating those. Lack of photographs with diaries made me hesitate a little. But on this father’s day – I thought I should start J

मधु वाता ऋतायते मधुक्षरन्ति सिन्धवः। माध्वीर्नः सन्त्वौषधीः॥
मधु नक्तमुतोषसि मधुमत्पार्थिवँ रजः। मधुद्यौरस्तु न पिता॥
मधुमान्नो वनस्पतिर्मधुमाँ अस्तु सूर्यः। माध्वीर्गावो भवन्तु नः॥

(May the winds blow sweetly.
May the rivers flow sweetly.
May the herbs be to us sweet.
May there be sweetness during the day and during the night.
May the particles of the earth be carrying sweetness for ever.
May the heaven, our father, be sweet to us.
May the fruit-bearing trees be sweet to us.
May the sun be sweet to us.
May the cows directions bring us happiness.
Peace! Peace! Peace!)

Har_Ki_Dun

Har ki Doon – Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know which of the Vedic or Upanishadic chants uniting the human spirit which the supreme spiritual being pulled me to Taluka. Probably chants recited by my father, listening to which I have been grown up, had influenced my sublime existence long before my conscious being started communicating with the world. Is that the reason my kind of an atheist could not refuse the invitation from friends to join them on their way to Badrinath trek? I did not have anything to do with religious or spiritual quest. My health is no longer able to take the stress of a trek – why then I agreed to come with them? Perhaps writing a diary narrating my experience of being mesmerized by the glamour of the almighty was the reason he brought me here – and I opened my notebook to write some worthless lines today.

We started preparing at dawn. This is time to leave Gangotri. I get a light poly-bag – whereas they are carrying my rucksack. Why do we carry poly-bags here? Questioning my companions does not make sense. They don’t have answer. I do not want to embarrass them. They visited Tapoban along with my rucksack. That way, my rucksack traveled more than I did.

I slowly came down the staircase leaving the shelter of Kamala Devi Bajoria. Leaving the slim but roaring Ganga behind me, I visited the nameless hotel for the last time. Hot alu-paratha and tea was waiting for us here.

The proprietor requests me to translate his faded signboard in Bengali. Bengali tourists come here in large number. The unexpected presence of a signboard in Bengali will magnetize them like an Apsara in this abode of gods. They will enter here enchanted. I will not be able to come back again and experience that. My trembling hand writes Bengali words in a paper. Then I keep a fifty rupee note in the hand of the child in uniform avoiding everyone’s attention. How old he is? A boy not more than twelve or thirteen is serving meals to tourists to earn his and probably his family’s livelihood. I salute him – the divine smile on his innocent face obliges me. May god live here among these people if he desires to live in the world. I know this is our last meeting. He will meet many more tourists, will experience the world much more than I did – may he live long. My time in this earth almost ended.

***

We board the bus. This one is overcrowded. Two saffron-clad Bengali Sadhus are sitting in my left. In my right, an aged person from an unknown village in Chattishgarh with his aged wife. Her face is covered by her saree as per Indian tradition. They came to pilgrimage in a group. I do not know how much of India they have already visited. To a foreigner’s eye they look poor and rustic, especially when they board luxury buses in traditional cloths. In reality they are reputed and well-to-do people from their localities, to whom traditional living is the choice of life.

The bus is going down through the curved mountain-road. We are going back taking the same route through which we came. Mother Ganga is accompanying us. Once in a while she is going far down leaving us alone, sometimes comes close to flow a little distance along with us. When she comes close, she seems not very deep – my life wouldn’t be at stake even if I fell down. One or two vehicles fell down in these mountain rivers almost everyday; these become news headlines in In Newspaper of Dehradoon, fortunately not in Kolkata.

Afternoon approaches soon. We reach Uttarkashi, reach our familiar and favourite lodge – and the same room on the third floor. Before that stand a few Eucalyptus, raising their tall proud heads towards the sky. Behind them sits the mountain which had a landslide last year. In the midst of sleepy night, roaring Ganga rushed at him with all her devastating force. Probably I called home in Kolkata that night. My daughter was surprised to know that I had already visited Gangotri. They don’t know my traveler soul.