Holy Shit !!
31st July 1997.
I boarded an unreserved compartment on a train. Thirty bucks got me the window seat. Cramped up with no space to move or even straighten my legs, as somebody was sitting on the floor on a huge sack of rice between the bunks; the train left the station.
While the train slowly meandered its way like a snake through a network of railway tracks, I could gradually see the neon signs of the city fading into the darkness of the night. Cool breeze blew in through the windows while I held back the tsunami of emotions playing havoc in my mind.
1st August 1997.
The train was slowly approaching Delhi. And at the point where the train on the red brick arch bridge met the walls of Red Fort, I wanted to jump off and kill myself. It was much later I'd realized that I would have broken a jaw and a bone but it was not deep enough a gorge to die. Thank Goodness.
9th October 1997
Suddenly, I find myself on a DTDC bus to Haridwar. I had about 300 bucks in my pocket that I’d borrowed, a lapsed passport and a T-shirt with my ex-band’s logo that never saw the light of the day.
11th October 1997
I was crossing the Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh with urban life behind me and what my life would be for the next one and a half years, right in front. While the mighty river was just below me, above was the sky and hope that I’ll find a place to shit at night.
I was homeless.
It was chilly and I’d no warm clothing. Actually, in a situation like this, it is not where you’ll sleep that matters but where to shit was the critical thought in my head while crossing the river.
The moment, I crossed over, I could hear songs in the praise of God. All were pirated melodies of popular Hindi film songs.
So moment on the other side of the river, I went from one place of religious retreat to the other, begging for a roof to spend the night. By this time and a couple of plates of Kadhi and Rice with some lovely green mango chutney had made my pocket very light.
None of them let me in. I was in whatever I was wearing for a week or so and had a lapsed passport in my pocket. I was carrying it for identification in case I get into any trouble. As if I haven't had enough trouble anyways!
I sat by the busy taxi stand that ferries pilgrims to Neelkanth. Thinking about what to do.
“Where fuck do I take a dump”, ran in my mind over and over again.
By this time, I was already feeling some pressure in my stomach. So, I identified a couple of spots where I could possibly take a dump in the darkness of the night. Water in any case was flowing in abundance.
“But where’s the soap??”, after all, I’ve had an uber urban upbringing.
I sat and thought that my truthful approach of having lost everything and being homeless was not working out. So, I had to devise a plan and the sun was gradually going down!
I washed my face by the river. Fixed my hair. Took my lapsed passport out and walked with all the swag I could fake and went straight into the next possible religious retreat that I could see.
“ Hey, good evening…I’m Anupam. I’m from Totteridge, London. Actually, I have given up everything and come to India to absorb and get immersed in the spirit force around here….”, I said in an accent borrowed right from the Queen in one breath.
“ आइए जी, आइए….Come in Sir…”, said the young monk in Hindi at the reception.
“Hey thanks, man….I need a place to stay….here’s my passport”
And he took my passport and gave me a register and asked me to write my details. Well, well…I did that in English too.
“वैसे तो दिन का चार्ज हैं १०० रूपिया ।।।पर आप दस रूपिया देना। उपर वाला आप की मनोकामनाए पूरी करे” (The charges are usually 100 bucks a night but you can pay 10…..may the lord fulfill your wishes), he blessed.
I don't blame him for anything or the system but it's the effect of colonization that is deeply embedded in us. But anyways, it helped me to get a discount and to find a place to take a dump that night at least!
Cheers to that, man !!!
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