We reached home around 5:30 in the morning. Even after the night journey in a Bus through the roads of UP and Rajasthan we were not feeling tired. When I got up in the morning (you may call it forenoon) at 11:00 I was feeling very good. Indrani asked me, what I would like to have for breakfast (rather brunch). I immediately responded, ‘Luchi aar saada aloor jhol’. To my utter surprise, she too agreed. She too was in a happy state of mind.
It was a short trip of two days; to attend a colleague’s marriage at Aligarh. During these two days, we covered (rather crossed) Jatipura, Goverdhan, Vrindavan, Mathura, Agra, Aligarh, and of course, Bharatpur, Dausa and Jaipur. We started from Jaipur in a 10-seater Bus, around 3 in the afternoon. My colleagues were well prepared for the trip, stacked with whatever is required to make a trip a happy one. It is memory; it is nostalgia that makes a trip memorable. At least that is what happened with me.
The moment I entered UP, I went back in time. I felt as if I just crossed Etawah, and soon will be at Kanpur. We reached Jatipura Guest House (where we stayed for the night) around dinner time. Thanks to Mrs Nirmala Birla, who is responsible for the excellent upkeep of the Guest House, it was a very comfortable stay. We were little apprehensive about the dinner at the guest house. I was not surprised when we were served hot, clean, simple, most sumptuous dinner consisting of Roti (two types), Rice, Kadhi, Dal, Aloo ki Sabzi, Salad and Achar. We ate as if we have not eaten for months. After the dinner, late in the night, we did Goverdhan parikrama in a hired vehicle, which had more sound than speed.
We enjoyed every bit of this 22 km trip; stopping in-between at various places where Sri Krishna supposedly left his impressions. Our expectation was like getting a feeling of Dwapar yug in Kali yug, though I have no clue how Dwapar yug looked like. My feelings at that point of time indicated that Dwapar yug must have been a happy yug as I was happy. Yes, in between I took ‘paan’ after ages. The ‘paan’ tasted like heaven. It reminded me of my Kanpur days. Then I used to start my day with Raghu Bhaiyya’s paan – ‘saunfia’ with elaichi, supari and Khushbu. As if paan was transported from the Dwapar yug.
Seeing the framed photograph of G P Babu at the guest house, I became somewhat emotional. I remembered the day I met him for the first time. He thought I am too young to manage what I am supposed to manage. Gradually he developed faith in me. I remembered our several meetings at Birla House at Jaipur. I remembered how much he loved me. I remembered how much he loved talking with me about things that were not related to BISR. G P Babu was a Noble soul. While leaving the guest house, standing in front of his portrait, I felt, it was a good decision I took 20 years ago to join the GP/CK Birla group. Who could have given me so much love and affection as this family has.
While taking the parikrama of Goverdhan Parvat, I was thinking about the trip to Mathura I took some thirty years ago with my parents and my wife. That day it was pouring heavily, and we were in a hired car that was from the Dwapar Yug, if not from an earlier one. Here is a brief account of my first trip to Mathura.
I was visiting Mathura for the first time. After we entered the city, I asked a passer-by, if he knew where Krishna Yadav lived. He said the name seemed familiar, but that was not enough for him to tell me where Krishna Yadav lived. I asked another passer-by. This man seemed serious and helpful. He asked me, “What does he do?” I said, he did many things, for example, he was a part-time teacher, and had well-known disciples. This information was not enough for the man to guide me further in the matter. The next man I met was a smart one. When I repeated my question to him, he thought for a few moments and then said, “Oh, yes, I know where Krishna Yadav lived.” At last, there was someone who knew where Mr Yadav lived. I felt relieved.
Pointing towards an old building at a distance, he said, “He lives in that building, but I am not sure if you will find him there. You can try.” The man seemed funny to me. After a while, he said, “There are better places to find him. Would you like to go there?” I said, of course, why not? He again paused for some moments, and then pointing at himself said, “Yadav lives here.” I couldn’t make a head or a tail of what he said. He said, “To reach him, you will have to go through me.” He must be a tout of some sort, I thought. Seeing me somewhat bewildered he said, “It seems you are not so sure of the idea of reaching Mr Yadav through me. Yes, it is little cumbersome. Why don’t you take the direct and shorter route?” Now, I was more convinced that he was a typical tout. The man seemed pretty smart to me.
I was curious, what the man meant by ‘direct and shorter route’ to reach Mr Yadav. I was willing to get cheated and fall into his trap. I wanted desperately to unravel the mystery. The man then pointed his attention towards me, and said, “Krishna Yadav lives there too. You don’t need to ask anybody for an appointment. You don’t need a passport or a visa.” I asked him if it was that simple. He said it was.
I looked within me. I found many things, but there was no trace of Krishna Yadav. I, nevertheless, thanked this man for his efforts. After some more search here and there, I found Krishna Yadav’s symbolic ‘residence’, and returned home, a satisfied tourist.
This happened some 30 years ago. I forgot about the whole incident. Who would remember what an obscure man said some 30 years ago? But one fine morning, all of a sudden, I woke up thinking about the man, and what he said. I asked myself, why I could not find Sri Krishna inside me that day. It was most definitely an odd thought. But an odd thought does not always mean it should not be pursued. Somehow, I liked the idea behind that man’s thought.
Thirty years ago, I was searching for Krishna Yadav in the streets of Mathura. After 30 years, I am hoping to find him within me. It feels good that now I don’t have to ask an outsider where he lives. I know where he lives.
If I ever meet Sri Krishna, and if he introduces himself as Krishna Yadav, I would not ask him to prove his identity. If he says he is absolute; he has 108 names; he can’t be captured in words; he can’t be confined to a fixed place, I wouldn’t argue. I would simply embrace him.
Next morning (it was almost 10) we took Aloo paratha breakfast, like again as if we had not had food for ages. For a traveller, one of the big problems is that he doesn’t know from where the next meal is going to come. After a heavy brunch, we started for our next sojourn Aligarh.
It was Akshay Tritiya day, and our Tempo Traveller route to Aligarh was through Vrindavan. In Braj bhumi on a Akshay Tritiya day, any intelligent person should be prepared to wait for unending hours in a traffic jam. This 1400 gram thing is present in every body, but many don’t know that it is not enough to have a 1400 gram thing in your possession. Neurons also must switch on. Often it is good that neurons are not ‘on’. We waited at Vrindavan, then at Raya, and finally reached our destination around 3 in the afternoon. It was lunch time. While eating, we completely forgot that we had heavy brunch. They rightly say, our neurons are hungrier than our stomach.
This was my second visit to Aligarh. The first time I visited Aligarh (that time I was in Delhi struggling to obtain another degree) it was my friend Ashok’s marriage. From Aligarh we went to Firozabad accompanying the Barat. So many memories of yesteryears flooded me. My friends Mahendra and Ashok. I can’t remember how many films we have seen together in six anna seats at Kanpur. How many days we spent at Parks (instead of school) in search of the ‘meaning of life’. Almost all the evenings we used to go to Meston Road for eating golgappas. Almost infinite time we had. It is hard to count the number of home-made (Ashok prepared) lunches we took at his place.
I called Ashok, on our way to Aligarh, and told him about my visit to Aligarh, and how much I am missing him. I reminded him of my visiting their cycle shop. I thought of Mahendra.
My friend Mahendra! We have shared so many beautiful moments.
I met this friend of mine
When I was in Class Ten.
One day we decided to see a film.
We skipped afternoon classes
Reached the cinema hall for the matinee show.
All was well until five.
Then arose in me an uneasy calm.
Film was not yet over, and I wanted to go home.
My friend, a veteran filmgoer was not amused
But understood the predicament of a novice filmgoer.
We came out, leaving the film, in-between.
That was the starting point of our long friendship.
Our ‘filmy’ journey continued.
We saw many films, old and new.
Front stall seat was what we could afford.
Those who have seen films from the front stall
Know what an exhilarating experience film-watching can be.
The most in-demand Six Anna seats are the best seats.
Torn seat covers, ‘Paan’ spittoons all around
And people bubbling for whistling.
Rightly said, people in the cheaper seats clap.
Rest rattle jewellery.
Now I miss B&W films.
I miss Silver Jubilee.
And I miss my best friend.
The day he left us, forever
Sitting among the mourners
I was not thinking about
“Na jayate mriyate va kadacin
Nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
Ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano
Na hanyate hanyamane sarire”
(“For the soul there is never birth nor death.
Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be.
He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval.
He is not slain when the body is slain.”)
That day I was immersed in a flashback.
Sitting among the mourners, I was seeing
Two friends watching ‘Bewaqoof’
at the Delite cinema
Sitting on a six anna seat
Until 5 o’clock
The film was not yet over.
Often, I wonder what life would be if there was no nostalgia. Can only ‘present’ keep one ‘alive’.
Thank you my colleagues, thank you my wife, for taking me with you to this wonderful trip of nostalgia.