This story is in flashback.
The idea of going to Shirdi was brewing up within me for some time now. It was Thursady, mom had kept a little puja which was attend by small group of people. The puja started at around 6:30 and ended in an hour. I was now hell bent on leaving for Shirdi. In between I managed to read an article about a trip to Shirdi on Rediff. Rediff happens to be my favourite sight, beside that it hold my oldest surviving e-mail id.
I decided that even I should make a trip to Shirdi. As of always my decisions were made on the last instant and on instincts. My driver took the pains to come in and drop me to a place in the heart of Surat city where the bust stand is located at ten in the night. I went into the first office and asked for a “sleeper” ticket. I know I don’t travel that well sitting that why I preferred a “sleeper” coach. The clerk suggested I could get only a non sleeper coach so I walked into another travel office. He issued me a sleeper ticket much to my happiness.
The seat was at the rear end. I was travelling with a group of friends where people were chattering late into the night. As the bus was about to leave around 11 I wished my near and dear ones good bye and sought their blessing.
I think I was awake for almost half an hour. The chatter and laughter was bugging me a bit but then I managed to slip into a deep sleep. I was awaken early in the by a loud thud as the bus hit a bumper. I was awake for 15 more minutes then I managed to sleep again and did not open my eyes before the bus finally halted in Shirdi in 8 in the morning.
It is a struggle.
I suggest if you are leaving in for Shirdi one must make a booking to the hotels and reconfirm it before leaving. Anyways I took a not so decent room, I managed to freshen up. My mobile was dead and so I also recharged my mobile. A local “Prasad” vendor managed to catch hold of me and I did not put him down and bought the “Prasad” without any fuss. I was a bit put off by people gathering all round me and making me feel like SRK/ AB baby. I then had the Indian breakfast of a sada dosa. There is a lot of things to choose from by the way. I kept my bag in the cloak room and deposited my camera, iPod and mobile to the authorities as well.
There was serpent like queue.
The arrangements have definitely improved since I made the trip couple of years back. There was a long queue consisting of people of all faiths and strata of society. There were people of all ages and all were eager to catch sight of the Shri Sai. The line thankfully kept moving chanting names in almost all languages that could be heard in India. The line kept moving and the bhajans and chants kept all interested.
After three hours.
The line lept moving stoping and then moving again. There was a break for lunch between 12:15 and 12:45. I managed to stand for few minutes then took a breather and then stood again. The line started moving again and then there was excitement as an “Aarti” was about to take place. Then the crowd was request to sit in a very large hall and the “Aarti” was performed. I did not follow much was what was going on but I tried to be with the crowd and bow down my head and offer my own “Aarti”.
The real “Darshan”. The “Aarti” ended with me feeling good as I was about to have “Darshan” of Shri Sai. There was a long queue and in between I manged to touch the priest’s feet and glance at Shri Sai. I seeked his blessing. I think his glimpse, which lasted for not more than a minute was worth the three hours in queue.
Lunch. I came out and bought a cold water bottle and a cold drink. I then collected my iPod, Camera and mobile. Then I called up my folks. Then I searched for a restaurant and managed to have a plate of Pav Bhaji, the Indian junk food. I then decided to book a bus ticket back home. I booked the sleeper ticket in no fuss and I thought well I could relax then. It was real hot all afternoon. I then went back to the complex and decided to sit around in the complex. Then I though of finding batteries for my Camera, I bought in “Duracell” which I knew would work. It did.
They kept pouring in.
There was everyone coming in from all parts of India. People were thronging in and there was a sense of hurry among all, as all wanted to seek blessing of Shri Sai. I managed to find solace in a crowded corner. I then decided to bring my camera into some action. I took the snap of temple housing, Ganesha, Shiva and Shani Dev. I then clicked a few photographs and after my first round of photograph, I queued for the priced “Vibhooti” I took three turn before sitting in front of a fountain just besides the complex.
The hot afternoon tested me.
It was real hot and I managed to fight weariness with help of water bottle and cold drinks and taking some snaps. A nice guys clicked my snap on my request and While the camera was in my head I did not felt much of heat as I roamed around the temple complex which attracted lots of people as there was a holiday packed weekend. It was so good to see people who managed to come in and made it to “Darshan”. I too obliged a few people with a snap request, slowly the blistering afternoon gave way to a very pleasant evening and my camera was busy taking a few snaps and deleting which did not look the worth.
It was around six in the evening when I decided for a last stroll of the complex and took this sneak peak at Shri Sai and I thought this snap would be for my parents. The digital age helped them with an “e-Darshan”. I know that photography is not allowed inside but nothing as such was written outside the temple. Then I thought it was content to take a last bow and bid adieu with regards and humility.
Dinner. I decided to have Dosa again. I had two. The bus was slated for departure at 8 o’clock in the evening but left after 8:30, with 4 passenger and three “crew”. There was no stop before Nashik at 11. I felt hungry and feasted myself on “Prasad”. As there was a choice to exchange seats, I changed my seats to a lower sleeper. I sleeped and in the way picked up a stiff back, I got up in the vee hours when the bus stopped at Navsari. It was about 4:30 in the morning. The bus entered the city and I woke up at my destination by the “conductor”. The car was there to pick me up and I reached home a touch before six. It was a good feeling to be in the nest again. I showed my parents all the snaps that I took. They were happy with the “e-Darshan” and I though I had a very good trip to Shirdi. I you wish to see some snaps that I have uploaded then you can click on this link.