A Visitor Who Was Not Very Flattering!

My cousin Mohan, just a couple of years younger than I am, came up to Pune to spend two days with me on Friday and Saturday. And there is a rather interesting story behind that visit.

Before we reconnected three years ago, I had not met or even been aware of what all had happened to Mohan since 1958.  Another cousin, naturally cousin to Mohan too, however had been and used my visit to Chennai four years ago to get the two of us together after more than half a century.  Since then both Mohan and I have been in touch regularly and I had even spent a few days as Mohan’s house guest three years ago in Chennai.

Neither during that stay at his home, nor during the other times that I had met him in Chennai, were we able to spend some time alone together to talk in detail about all that had happened to us between our school days and now.  I had left Chennai for other places and never returned to live there, whereas Mohan had not lived anywhere else except to go for training and employment in the UK for a few years in his youth.  This trip was to remedy the situation as nobody would be around and we had nothing to do other than talk and catch up with each other.  And that is exactly what we did and oohed and aahed at our various experiences.

Mohan and Arjun

On the left is Mohan with his grandson Arjun who is now 8 months old.  Mohan’s wife Sheila and daughter / Arjun’s aunt Divya are right now in the USA with Arjun and that is how Mohan was able to get away from Chennai.

Having got that little background out of the way, let me share all that happened during these two days.

I received Mohan at the airport and drove him home and then subsequently to his hotel just a little over a kilometer away from my place.  I brought him back after his siesta to my home, but I was lucky to find an autorickshaw to send him back there after dinner.  During the day however, Mohan diplomatically kept telling me to hire a cab with a driver for Saturday showing concern for my having to drive in the traffic of Pune, while actually hiding his fear of being a passenger in a vehicle driven by me.  I obliged and on Saturday we hired a car to take us around till late in the evening when I had to again drive him out for an early dinner and back to his hotel.  He gallantly offered to order for a cab early morning today to take him to the airport and again hid his real motive by suggesting that I should not wake up at some unearthly hour just because he had to catch an early morning flight.  Be that as it may, he has gone back and I was spared the early morning chauffeur duty.

On Friday, matters were well under control with lunch at home and dinner at my favourite neighbourhood restaurant.  On Saturday, I had taken Mohan to Sangameshwar, Tulapur little knowing that on Saturdays he visits a temple and observes a discipline of not having any alcoholic drink and eating only vegetarian food.  He had a wonderful darshan of the swayambhu had some kanda bajji and we returned to Pune by lunch time.  Since it was a vegetarian food day for him he desired that we go for a Gujarati Thali lunch and the next adventure started.

All the restaurants that I knew that offered this speciality had closed down between the time I used to know of their existence and now.  In the last mall where we had gone to and were disappointed, Mohan found a small cafeteria offering some vegetarian food and we settled for that.  We then decided to dispense off with the hired car and driver as we did not expect to go anywhere far away for dinner.

For dinner, Mohan desired to have some varieties of chaat. The idea was to have it at a restaurant very near my home and then for Mohan to go back to his hotel in a rickshaw.  When we landed up at the chaat shop we were informed that they had changed the cuisine on offer and chaat was no longer available.

So, much to his chagrin I had to drive him a couple of Kms to another chaat place but what he had there offset his fear of my driving skills.  I left him at the hotel and offered to drop him off at the airport this morning but you know what happened already!

He is safely back at Chennai and no doubt saying ‘phew’ to himself, everytime he recalls being driven around by me.


Ranjan For Vipassana Retreat.

Something about me must have impressed Ranjan who suddenly decided that he too would like to learn Vipassana Meditation and registered for a ten day camp at Markal, twenty kms away from Pune.

Two things that are important for me are that he wants to learn and that he goes to Markal for his first retreat.  I was among the early meditators/volunteers at Dhammanand in Markal when it was very primitive and to see how it has changed was a very satisfying experience.

Manjiree took the afternoon off and I chauffeured  her and Ranjan to Markal earlier this afternoon.  After leaving Ranjan at Markal, I took Manjiree to Sangameshwar, Tulapur for some tea and she has decided that when we go again to collect Ranjan on the morning of 10th March, we would stop there again for breakfast.  Ranjan will spend the next days in retreat there and learn the meditation technique.

I am one very pleased father today.

Mini Pilgrimage.

My friends Ramesh, Amar and I very capably escorted by our chauffeur Arun went to Sangameshwar and Alandi this morning and this is a post on that.
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This is the junction of three rivers which is called the Sangam and is considered to be very holy. You can see a cremation ground on the bank where believers still cremate and immrese the ashes in the confluence of the three rivers.

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Chatrapathi Sambhaji Maharaj built a temple around a Swaymbu Lingam on the request of a Sadhu who had cured him of an incurable disease at this location. You can see the entrance to the temple below.
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Ramesh and Amar went inside the temple for darshan while I waited and watched the rivers flow! It was all new for Amar but Ramesh and I had gone there primarily for an absolutely out of the world experience of a mid morning snack of Kanda bhajji and chai.
kanda bhajji

Yes, that is a fly that you see on the rim. Part of the scene here!

After that very satisfying mid morning repast we moved on to Alandi. Ramesh and Amar went inside the temple here too while I waited outside as I did not fancy getting crushed in the crowds waiting in a serpentine queue. After that bit of formality was done with, we moved on to the next point of interest another out of the world experience of Maharashtrian rural cuisine served by a team of enthusiastic waitresses who kept replenishing our plates with refills, and particularly generous with jalebis for dessert!

A real Pet (pronounced pate meaning stomach) Pilgrimage.

We were back in Pune in time for a well earned siesta.