Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ye, dosti

This Tiru trip Pavan made a friend.

Hansraj, age eleven. I have known and loved him when he was a baby. In fact, I was so crazy after him that I asked his father, Peter, if I could adopt Hans.

'Manufacture your own!' he said.

So when my present met my past, it took just three trips for the two to seal the friendship.

What matched? Their energy levels, their naughty quotients, their laughing capacities, and the mountain's grandfatherly ambiance.

They even named each other. Hans is Honey and Tukru is Pavan Bhalu bhaiya.

'You two look so sweet together. I might just eat you alive.' I threatened them.

'We will still be friends.' said Bhalu, loyalty incarnate.

'Ai, can we stay in Tiru only?' he asked,

'Do you like Tiru for the mountain or because of Hans?' I asked him.

'Han. Honey. And Mountain.'

During a lazy afternoon, I was chilling out in the room at Sheshadri Ashram, and the two of them were chasing each other around the place. (Sheshadri Ashram is a few feet away from Ramana Ashram. Sheshadri was a weird saint who threw stones at his devotees and they were cured, so thay made an ashram for him. Sheshadri used to call Ramana his younger brother.)

Suddenly Hans came inside the room with some rice wrapped in a big round leaf.

'Prasad.' He said, giving me some, and ran out of the room as he saw Pavan through the window.

'That was yummy. Can I have some more? Hans! Pavan! Come here. Get me some more prasad. No, I want one full leaf full. I am hungry.'

After ten minutes all three of us were sitting on the floor of the room, each eating delicious rice from three different leaves. It had a rare subtle flavor, without the execive spices so common in Tamil Nadu.

'This is so good. Where did you get this from?' I asked them.

'This is the prasad the ashram gives everyday to the sadhus who sit outside. Its very tasty, so I always take it.' replied Hans.

Btw, Hans lives on the other side of the road from the ashram, on the first floor of one of the best restaurants in Tiru, run by his parents.

Both of them tried hard to convince me to stay longer in Tiru. As it is, leaving the mountain is never an easy job for anyone, not even the bus driver.

So I relented a day and that gave them a power over me, or so they thought. Separating two new friends, I was exhausted by the time we finally got into the bus, and my revengeful nature surfaced.

As the bus pulled out, I teased the poor bhalu,
'You want to stop the bus and go back to Hans?'
And, for the first time in his little life of seven years, I saw silent tears appear in his eyes.

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