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Old 3rd April 2013, 21:06   #1
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Post Delhi - Ludhiana - Kanniya - Heavens: A Journey of Faith

All, this is my first attempt at a thread so please bear with me if you find anything amiss. This is something I wrote privately and have decided to share as a tribute. I had no intent of documenting the trip maybe I did not even know what a travelogue was at that time! Very few pictures but its only words I have to convey to the readers what happened.

It happened a couple of years ago..

We all started to laugh while trying to maintain our balance on the wicked tractor trolley. It was the last week of July, expectedly humid, the sun was beating down brightly and the eyes were in the state of permanent squinting. My shirt was drenched, the hands were beginning to hurt from holding the side of the trolley and the knee area on my jeans felt like giving away anytime and turn me into a ‘blast from the past’ rock star. 'Go towards the back side' shouted the sweat soaked driver over the rattling of tractor engine, bolts n screws, chains, and the entire metal trolley, some parts of which may come loose at anytime I thought, '..else you will get a mud bath courtesy the huge tractor wheels' and I obeyed.

This is the royal ride we were on:
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Last edited by adtalwar : 3rd April 2013 at 21:15. Reason: spell check
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Old 3rd April 2013, 21:11   #2
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It had rained heavily in this belt over last fortnight or so and resulted in bad floods - not that there are good floods - but this had taken a toll on the agricultural capital Punjab, washing away the stored grains and damaging the crop. All of us know that the authorities are equally or more to blame for such wastage. I would leave this to the breaking news section of the numerous self proclaimed number one news channels for the meanwhile.

The kacha road which led to the banks of Sutlej was surrounded by eucalyptus trees and paddy fields, all washed up in monsoon showers and looking proud. The same rain water was pooled up and had caused the trail to give in at a few places and the terrain had become dangerous to tread on. So we gathered some newspapers and mounted the trolley- but with a big slice of drama us city dwellers are bound to create for this kind of adventure. My uncle perched on the tractor side trolley reminded me of Tabu in Maachis. Not that I am equating my uncle to Tabu but from where I was sitting, it seemed to be the place where the camera would have been mounted for that scene!

My bhuas, dad and chacha sat on the wheel arches, my brother, cousin and me along side the walls of trolley completed the count. If you have never travelled on a trolley, the best way to avoid getting bum rashes n getting your spine (and all related stuff) jagged n jarred is to hold onto the side in a semi kneeling position so that there is a gap between your hips and the wall and the entire weight is on your feet. You need to clench the side with your hands to keep yourself up straight, balance any bags you are carrying on the shoulders, make sure your specs stay on your nose and your mobile and whatever that you have foolishly put in the upper pocket of your shirt stays inside it. Simple enough, if you wish to avoid visiting a doctor to get yourself x-rayed later on that is.

Anyways, coming to the actual vehicle itself, it would have been the bright orange and resembled a newly wedded bride a few years ago but now it had faded quite a bit, the orange coat getting dull in the sun with rust showing at places. It is a common sight in North India where this mode of transport is used for anything ranging from agricultural produce to oil drums to people to cattle! The village itself was bereft of any cars though we spotted a total of three fill it shut it Hero Hondas, around five bicycles, one harvester combine, a couple of tractors and exactly one Maruti 800. We had parked our Innova under a tree near the Gurudwara as had been advised about what was to come next.

Innova in front of the Gurudwara:
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Old 4th April 2013, 13:31   #3
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After washing our hands and face with some refreshing water from the taps near the langar hall, we had some delicious tea. Typical Punjabi fare, if you donít get royal treatment even in a dingy house from people in tattered clothes, you have probably crossed the Tropic of Punjabi Mehman Nawazi I say and this was a Gurudwara to say the least. Our attendant and would be driver, had first come on the tractor sans the trolley anticipating that the ladies at least might stay behind and only couple of us would go. He was mistaken. None of us had travelled close to 400 kms to stay behind at this juncture. So off we went.

I clicked a few snaps and started to capture the moments in my mobile camera. I was shaking, the ground was shaking and everything around us, trees, paddy fields, the building, electric (or telephone) poles shook. If you have been caught in an earth quake or even better if you have seen one of the clippings of a camera inside a building in Japan they frequently show on Discovery channel, you would understand what I mean. And then it got worse.

I put the mobile in my jeans, tucked in the soiled handkerchief in the pocket and clenched the side as described above. We could not see each other properly and were squinting, trying to speak, balance and generally tried to maintain sanity around us. My younger aunt started to shake badly and skidded off the wheel arch and held onto the side for her dear life. My dad tried to stay on it and after a few really nasty bumps managed to regain his posture but not composure though. I looked on my left side and my younger brother was no longer on the wall of the trolley. Some time during the time I was busy looking ahead, he too had skidded and landed on his bum on the hot metal floor. The new t-shirt and jeans (he had no newspaper) rubbing the wall and floor and cleaning off some rust in the process. His mouth was open and he had an amusingly joyous expression like he had submitted himself to the trolley and was enjoying what it was doing to him! Only my cousin knew what to do as he had travelled in a trolley a few days back when he had to alight from the train due to rains and use several forms of commuting to reach Mohali where he worked.

Finally, we reached the river bank and got off the beauty - nothing else, not the fancy cars, not even the tough 4x4's could have got us anywhere near the spot where this had brought us. I got down and took a snap of this humble beast we so often end up cursing for being in fast lanes meant for us in our ego sized vehicles.

We identified a low spot near the bank, removed our shoes and proceeded with caution. The ground was slippery and my feet squished in the wet mud when I approached the river. We were done in about fifteen minutes. I tried to rub off the mud off my feet on the grass but it dint work. Our driver pointed us towards the paddy fields filled with rain water and that was what we used for washing our feet. We mounted atop our royal ride and this time my uncle also came along with us to the back of the trolley. He narrated his ordeal upon the side of the tractor while we bumped, hopped and withered our way back to the Gurudwara. Only this time we were not just laughing on our predicament but were feeling really happy inside as well. And why not, our beloved Daarji had now found eternal peace or so we thought. He had spent over half a century keeping his faith and serving selflessly at his preferred place of worship and this is where his saint had also left for the heavens. Yes, this place is where he would have wanted this to happen.

I had gone down towards the river while my uncle rendered the Ardas and asked the almighty to bless our Daarji's soul. I opened the bag and slowly immersed the ashes, flowers and the finally the bag into the river. My Grandpa had died a week ago when the ventilator and other life systems were removed. He had lived his 88 years life full of turmoil including painful losses during partition and of happiness, huge and supportive extended family with kids and grand grand kids. I was amazed by the unshakeable faith which he had in his God, his saint. No questions were ever asked or he knew the answers I wonder? Frankly it does not matter, his faith was so strong that even us, the third generation was touched by it. We might question the logic, have doubts and never be in the same league as him but if we had not done this, we would have felt guilty nevertheless.

I smiled and thought we had accomplished what we had come to do and felt light, for a great weight had been lifted. We were no longer responsible, he was in good hands, God's hands and that is the closure we all seek. Isnít it?

88th birthday pastry:
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Old 10th April 2013, 13:30   #4
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Default Re: Delhi - Ludhiana - Kanniya - Heavens: A Journey of Faith

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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