A visit to Chamundeshwari temple

 

We decided to visit the Chamundeshwari Temple which is situated at the top of the famous Chamundi hill in Mysuru. On 13th January morning, we stood outside our resort after booking the local call taxi. Though initially, the app showed a waiting time of 4 minutes, we were still waiting after 10 minutes had passed. Later we came to know that the call taxi had assigned another driver since the original driver wasn’t keen to make the long trip. Anyway, the taxi finally arrived and we found the driver to be quite arrogant, demanding to drop us back at the resort after the temple visit was over. While his request was genuine since it is difficult to get customers at the hill top, his arrogant tone was a put off. After a brief tiff, we got off the taxi and asked him to cancel.

Having got off to a bad start to the day, my wife and I were apprehensive but now decided to just hire a rickshaw. As soon as we sat, the rickshaw driver too, asked for a round trip. However his behavior was good and we agreed for the same. We were on the way.

Mysuru is one of the prettiest cities of India, well planned with tree lined wide roads. The climate being pleasant, we enjoyed the cool morning air rushing through the open rickshaw. Silently admiring the beautiful, royal structures rushing by, the thought of the temple getting closed by the time we reached, was always at the back of our minds. After about 20-25 minutes, our rickshaw finally reached the bottom of the hill and soon our ascent began. We had thought it to be a short climb to the top but it went on and on. However the view of the enchanting city was always in our sights. One of the positive features of the city of Mysuru, are the wide roads without potholes and this feature was consistent on the hill as well, which was a pleasant surprise. Well, finally the Gopuram of Chamundeshwari temple was visible from a distance and soon we reached. Our rickshaw driver showed us the place where he would be awaiting our return and now we were on foot.

We proceeded towards the temple entrance. The temple surroundings were crowded with the usual toy shops, shops selling assorted Indian sweets, coconut water, aerated drinks, etc. However, with single minded focus, my wife ignored all these and proceeded towards a lady selling pooja samagri. We left our shoes with her and rushed towards the temple entrance. When we reached there, a long queue welcomed us. We looked at each other and resigned ourselves to spending the next hour or two of patient advance through the queue.

Unknown to us there is a proper system of having an early darshan without going through a serpentine queue by purchasing a ticket worth Rs. 30 only or direct entry into the presence of the Devi by purchasing Rs.  100 ticket.

But since we were ignorant, here we were, proceeding very slowly through the queue. While my wife kept herself busy by muttering prayers, I amused myself by watching my co-queuers.

There wa a large group of students who appeared to have come in a picnic to pray at the temple. While the boys were upto their usual antics of making fun of each other or slapping each others head, the girls amused themselves with innumerable selfies in different poses and facial expressions.

There were quite a few senior citizens, who took every opportunity to sit on the floor whenever the queue came to a standstill. A few senior citizens soon lost their patience and started requesting the people ahead to give them way, so that they could go ahead and try to get earlier darshan.

Many families were with small kids but most of the kids showed admirable patience and stood with their parents and grandparents without throwing any tantrums.

While a lady was selling chikki, wafers, etc. to the crowd in the queue, another was selling mouth watering kakdi (cucumber). And both found many takers.

Finally the long, serpentine queue ended after almost 1.5 hours and soon we were in the presence of the diety. After a bit of pushing, my wife could hand over the pooja samagri basket to the priest while I stood beside her. Hardly had we bowed before the Devi, the policeman on duty pushed us forward, away from the diety, so that the next lot of pilgrims  could have their own rushed darshan. In all this melee, both of us managed to find a corner to stand and say our prayers, after which we came out.

While going out, few of the monkeys who were frolicking nearby, came and climbed on my wife’s shoulder. Now this was quite unexpected, though there were warning boards nearby. Then we realized that my wife was carrying bananas alongwith the remaining pooja samagri, which she was carrying. Keeping her calm, my wife handed over the bananas to the monkey sitting on her shoulder. Immediately, it jumped off her shoulder onto the nearby wall. Relieved, my wife went out but as I tried to follow her out, the monkey now jumped on my shoulder. I was taken aback, since I wasn’t holding any eatables in my hand, but I too remained calm, lest the monkey lose its temper. Soon it was sitting on my head, and everyone had a good laugh at my expense. I went near the wall, half willing it to jump on the wall. After what seemed like  an eternity, the monkey let go off my head and jumped and bounded away.

While I was happy to have escaped without a scratch, everyone said that we have been blessed by the Pawan Putra.

Thus we made our way back to the place where our rickshaw driver, Raju  had asked us to meet.

  Yatindra Tawde

The Extortionist

Sam runs a big ticket extortion racket along with his other clan members. And the victims are usually tourists. Tourists who like to move around with all their valuables and useful things everywhere. In this SouthEast Asian country, Sam is king. The country has a lot of tourism attractions to attract tourists to explore the natural beauty as well as great ancient heritage places. No wonder the tourists flock to its shores.
But in the good old times, it was never like this. The tourists came then too, enjoyed their stay to the fullest, visiting the verdant sunny beaches, the beautiful eye catching temples and experiencing the rich culture of the island nation. And these tourists enjoyed feeding their simian cousins as an added attraction. For many years, it was a routine during the peak holiday season, year after year. Then things started changing.
The change of the millennium brought about many changes for the human species. Their lives became faster, their machines became smarter and they started hoarding all the planet resources for themselves. It became more and more apparent that, going by the pace at which humans were going, if the other species had to survive, they had to evolve much faster. And some of them did. You only have to look at the millions of cat videos on the net to realise that. When you watch them you get the feeling that they are the ones who have their hoomans at their beck and call, to feed them, to cuddle them, to make their beds, so on and so forth.
Sam and his clan have the extortion racket running successfully for a few years now. It all started when a teenage Sam picked up a bag and scooted off but not very far away. The woman, whose bag it was, realised what had happened and screamed loudly and cried out, “My bag, that scoundrel has run off with my bag.” Suddenly her son comes from nowhere, eating an ice cream. Being smart, he offers his ice cream to Sam, who is sitting at a distance. The ice cream is a big turn-on for Sam and he abandons the bag, which is quickly picked up from the surrounding crowd and given back to the woman. The woman has got back her bag and she is so happy. Sam has got his ice cream and he is very happy. But more than happy, his extra active young mind is working overtime. He has seen a tourist give him the most cherished goodies in exchange for a bag and that sets him thinking. He makes it a habit, in fact it becomes his addiction. Almost every day he picks on some vulnerable tourist, who is careless with his possessions, and pinches them from the tourists. Then he waits in anticipation for the next set of tasty goodies offered to him, which invariably are. He then goes on to train his clan members to help him in his daily shenanigans and before long he has set up a profitable venture.
Yes, the monkey groups in the state of Java, in Indonesia have become a handful for the many tourists flocking to that place. They extort food by taking possession of the tourists bags, cameras, mobiles, etc. , handing them back only after they have been offered the best food that the tourists can manage. And the racket has gained such gigantic proportions that they are now making news across the world. Like the humans developed agriculture across various parts of the world in the ancient past, Inspite of being separated by huge distances, the evolution of the world wide simians to pick up this pioneering trait of the Indonesian monkeys, is a big possibility.
Beware tourists!
Yatindra Tawde