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The Golden Temple Saga – Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 2

Don’t be surprised for publishing the post a little earlier than usual. Also, this post is predominantly just about one place and it’s totally worth it.

A short recap from the last blog post to bring you up to the speed. Inspired by the below song, I convinced 4 of my friends to travel along with me all the way to Amritsar. On our 2nd day of the journey, we visited the most famous Attari – Wagha Border between India and Pakistan. And, it was one remarkable experience.

By now, you all might have guessed the place. It’s none other than the Sri Harmandir Sahib, famously known as the Amritsar Golden Temple. From the local sources, we got to know that the Gurdwara is less crowded during the early hours of the dawn. Kavinnila  (a.k.a Kavin) and I were super excited and planned to start as early as 4 am. On the other hand, Shashi, Remya and Shalini was super tired after a crazy day, so they decided to opt out for some more rest and join us later.

As planned, we started a little later than 4 am. As our hostel was just in walking distance from the Gurdwara, we didn’t have any trouble reaching there. It’s a hard rule that men and women who enter the temple must cover their head by wearing a scarf or a turban. On our way to the temple, there was a respectable old man who offered me a headscarf and even tied it on my head. Later, he DEMANDED DONATION for the same. It’s quite unfortunate that there are people capitalizing situation like these. If you are visiting the temple, kindly don’t entertain such people. There are tons of head scarfs placed in bins just outside the Gurudwara for free.

One could get easily awestruck by the glittering structure against the background of the dark sky. And, I am no exception. Just before the main entrance, there is a place where you can safely deposit your footwear for free. A continuous stream of water flowing through the entrance cleanses your foot before entering the temple premise. OMG, I have never been to such a peaceful and calm religious place. I felt the tranquility of the place subdue my usual excitement. And, quite short of words in precisely expressing that feeling. The main temple sits in the middle of Amrit Sarowar (Pool of Nectar), a holy tank where devotees take bathe. We went around the Parikrama (Pathway surrounding the tank) clicking some pictures before joining the queue leading to the sanctum. I am not even exaggerating, the devotees here are the most self-disciplined ones I have ever seen. Firstly, there are no separate queues except the one dedicated for elderly and physically challenged people. Irrespective of their caste, creed, gender, social and economic status, the rest of the folks share the same queue. In spite of thousands of devotees waiting in the line for hours, we didn’t find even a single person trying to push others or trying to get ahead or even speak loudly. Probably, we are the only uncouth ones in the crowd who are incapable of zipping their mouth. You would be amazed to see that there isn’t anyone except just an elderly guard near the entrance of the sanctum to control the crowd. All the time spent in the queue I enjoyed the devotional songs with marvelous deep voices played there. To my surprise, while entering the sanctum, I spotted a group of musicians performing live. That’s some incredible stamina and serious devotion performing continuously without any drop in their energies. A few moments passed entirely lost in the charm and resonating music of the place. Again, the blissful experience is hard to explain with words. It’s two storied structure with its walls & ceiling filled with pleasing decorative artworks. The devotees quietly find a spot for themselves to sit, read their holy text and meditate. Again, there is no one to control or manage them. Further, we reached the terrace just to get lost in the breathtaking view from there. We were offered Karah Prasad, a sweet made of whole wheat flour, Ghee (clarified butter) and sugar on our way out of the sanctum.

The following are a few awesome pics clicked by Kavin.

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Sri Harmandir Sahib, Golden Temple – This Beauty

The Karah Prasad didn’t completely solve our hunger problems, so we headed straight searching for the Langar Hall.

Langar is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. – Wikipedia

So, no one returns from a Gurdwara hungry. Might be the effect watching umpteen number of documentaries on the Golden Temple Langar, it became a dream to have a meal there, cos it’s no ordinary Langar. Following are the amazing facts that make it more special[Source].

  • It’s the world’s largest community kitchen.
  • On an average, 1,00,000 meals are served every day, absolutely free of cost.
  • More than 90% of the workforce involved in preparing and serving the Langar are volunteers.
  • On an average, The kitchen consumes around 1800 kgs of pulses, 5000 kgs of wheat flour, 1400 kgs of rice and 700 liters of milk daily.

Just at the entrance of the hall, the volunteers handed us a plate, a spoon, and a bowl. After waiting amongst 1000s of devotees, we were allowed into a large dining hall with carpets laid in parallel rows to sit down and eat. With not much difficulty, we found ourselves a spot amidst a large crowd. Then, they served us, Roti (flat bread), Daal (lentils), Sabzi (vegetables) and Kheer (dessert). OMG, the food was not only yummy but felt soulful and wholesome. Once done eating, we handed our plates and cutleries to another set of volunteers stationed at the exit of the hall. It’s quite amazing that the Langar is run entirely out of donation from the Sikh community across the globe. Their philanthropical mindset and natural willingness to serve people is highly commendable. I came out of the Gurudwara with both my soul and stomach filled. I am never a religious person, but the vibes this place gave me is beyond any typical place of devotion. It was a long dream come true for me and definitely, a moment to remember for the rest of the lifetime. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

A few meters walk from the Golden Temple took us to yet another significant landmark, not only in Amritsar but also in India’s struggle for independence. It’s Jallianwala Bagh where the sorrowful Amritsar massacre took place. On 13th April 1919, Reginald Dyer a British army Colonel ordered open fire at unarmed innocent civilians who gathered to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi which resulted in the infamous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Around 1000 died and 1500 injured in this Mishap. One could still see the bullet marks on the wall and the Martyrs’ Well where many jumped to save themselves from the shooting. The place also houses a small museum to provide more detailed info on the incident. This place reminded me of the sacrifice made by many that lead us to the path of freedom that we enjoy today.

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The Memorial

It was already past 1 pm when we got united with the rest of the gang after visiting the Jallianwala Bagh. We all were hungry by that time and unanimously decided to have lunch at a nearby Dhaba. There is no way we would miss the famous Amritsari Kulcha while being in Amritsar. The Dhaba served a yummy Kulcha with some Chickpea Curry and a sour chutney which I loved. From there we reached our hostel, freshened up, packed our bags and headed straight to the railway station to catch Amritsar – New Delhi Shatabdi Express that’s destined for Delhi.

Wait, the day didn’t end here. A couple of interesting things did happen. The first one was a sheer coincidence. We again shared the compartment with the same family that traveled with us from Delhi to Amritsar. The next one was a pleasant surprise. A Postcrossing friend Mr.Piyush came all the way to Ludhiana railway station to handover me some awesome postcards when our train halted there. The best part was, my phone was in silent mode and didn’t hear the ring when he called. The train just started moving when I returned his call. As the train was already in motion, he came running and handed me the envelope. That’s an extraordinary gesture to show towards a person whom he oddly knows. Thanks, Piyush. It means a lot to me.

Phew, That’s how yet another incredible day came to an end.

The next day had some serious twist and turns for us. But you got to wait until the next blog post in the series.

To Be Continued …

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4 The People

Yaay, it’s the last day of the month, my conventional blog publishing day. There is always something special about the month ends. Those are the days I deliver something concrete in spite of my thoughts drained as much as my pockets. Time to time, I use my blog to pour out my frustrations. Maybe, it’s cos I feel doing so in social media is kinda cliche.

“4 The People” was a Malayalam movie that was released when I was in my 10th grade. The same was released in Tamil as “4 Students” too. The song from the movies used to be my favs especially Lajavathiye and Unthan Vizhimunai. Most days pass by tuning into the morning radio show waiting to listen to these songs along with my other Rahman favs. That’s quite nostalgic. But, this only hit me after I started writing this blog post. So, this post is definitely not about this movie. If you are as nostalgic as me, you can listen to the songs below.

If you are from a middle-class family like mine, there is a high probability that you would die without meeting that “Naalu Peru” (4 /*the*/ People) who influenced your life more than anyone else in the universe. They are dedicated and care for you so much that their long nose is poked into your life forever. Fortunately, my parents didn’t impose much the choices of that “Naalu Peru” on me, until lately.

For most of my life, I was brought up as a freethinker. Even though I had a lot of thought differences with my parents, we always discussed and debated openly on those. Predominantly I was left to my own choices. As soon as my marriage got fixed, things gradually began to shift. I could see my preferences been overridden with what considered to be the preference of that “Nallu Peru” without any logical reasons that I could comprehend. All of a sudden, from the color of my clothes and my beard to the way I talk required the social approval of those “Naalu Peru”. Eventually, there were instances where I saw my self-respect vanishing into thin air. What really pisses me off is, when I shake my head for whatever crap you say for the same of courtesy, I am one good obedient guy. But, when you push me beyond my threshold with your stupid pieces of advice and make me counter it with questions that make sense, you bloody question my upbringing. “Pullaiya romba arpurdhama valathurukka ma nee” (Sarcastically commenting, you have awesomely raised your kid )  moment only.

Probably, These are the questions that I would definitely ask when I face those “Naalu Peru”.

  • What’s your problem?
  • Where were you when we had problems?
  • How are you this good at finding faults?
  • We have a dedicated job in our company called Quality Analyst, who’s only job is to find faults, would you be interested in joining full time? Why do it for free when you are good at something?

If you are one of that 4 people, kindly pay attention. I don’t want to live 4 the people, but to live 4 my people. To live 4 me and my loved ones. So, get lost. Peace.

P.S: Really sorry for the frustration overflow, I really needed to vent it out of my garbage collection.

Essence Of Time

It’s already half past 9 in the eve and all I got is less than 3 hours to publish this post. My laziness, a busy month, procrastination and a lot could be blamed for writing this in the nick of the moment, as usual. However, my strict monthly target of at least one blog post per month and a hand full of readers who regularly read my blog is what that motivates me to keep on writing. Can’t thank you guys enough.

I almost hit the wall deciding on the topic for this blog post. What came to rescue is the topic that I was discussing with my fiance yesterday. Yeah, you read it right. I am currently engaged and getting married pretty soon. Wait for it guys, that episode deserves a separate blog post.  There is a reason why I had to mention her here and I really feel pity for that poor soul. Just for the mistake of making me wait for a couple of minutes, she had to painstakingly listen me talk about punctuality and integrity of the Japanese people for half an hour. In the ESSENCE OF TIME, I will keep this shot.

There is a general opinion that we Indians are quite insensitive about TIME, which I feel is true to an extent. I have this best buddy of mine, out of all the times we have met, only once he was on time and that lead me to a deep shock. I am really sorry da to pull you down here, didn’t have a choice. This doesn’t mean I am punctual all the time, but at least try to be on time. Worst case, I apologize when I am late.  It’s okay to be insensitive about your own time, it’s once own choice. But, where we fail the most when we fail to appreciate the time of others.

“Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.”
-Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

I wish I could say the above is my all time favorite quote and all that. But, just copied from Goodreads site so that it suits the context.

Have you appreciated the friend who patiently listens to all your ranting whatever the time of the day it is, the friend who spends hours and days to get you an awesome gift  for your birthday just to make you feel happy, your parents who lost all their own time taking care of you and finally, that relative who takes finding mistakes and advising you as their lives mission. We fail to appreciate their sincere efforts and take them for granted, don’t we?. They are spending something invaluable on you. It’s only fair we return them time and undivided attention, cos that’s the only thing that’s at par that’s worth their efforts.

Thanks for taking your valuable time to read this post. Now it’s your turn to thank me for spending my precious time writing this to enlighten you all. Just Kidding. Peace.

Luck(e)y

Gifted Key Chain - Courtesy : Buddy

Gifted Key Chain – Courtesy : Buddy

I had a set of loosely held keys that opens the boxes which hold delightful things. But few of them are special and exclusive ones, they are my Luck-Keys. Why do I call them Luck-Keys? cos they are luck(e)y ones, somehow I get them back soon whenever I lose or misplace them. They say “Luck marches with those who give their very best.” and it became true in my case. Yes, I started to lose my luck on those keys as I didn’t give my best and took the luck for granted. I was careless and overconfident that I am never going to lose them, even if I do, I would get them back soon. Once a carelessly and loosely held luck(e)y slipped out of my hands, then I searched for it all along, but couldn’t find and It’s gone forever. This is what made me conscious of my mistakes and I started holding them tight, even put them together in a key chain.

Do you think it’s just about bunch of metal keys, no It’s about people you know. And those Luck-Keys are the ones who love you and care for you. They might come back and be for you in spite of your stupid behaviors and angry words. But they would definitely slip out of your hands if you are taking them for granted and not paying attention to them. Do you know what’s inside those boxes, It’s your own JOY. So hold on to your Luck-Keys tight.

Note : What prompted me to write the above is a Key Chain gifted by my buddy to hold those loosely held bike keys which I kept on missing and misplacing.