India Dreaming
Accounts of previous tours to India by Sundaram



Part Four: The Landslide & The Love


It was a beautiful morning as we bussed through the Himalayan foothills on our way toward Devaprayag where we would catch our river rafts. On the way we had to stop as the road was closed due to a landslide. Two bulldozers were working to remove the boulders & rock from the road while a long row of cars, trucks & busses waited in line
on the narrow mountain road. Realizing that it was going to take awhile, we got off our bus to check out the situation. As we were standing by the side of the road watching the work in progress, an entire bus-load of children started pouring off their bus & coming up to us to shake our hands & to ask about us -- who we were & "which country?" Their ages were in the 10 to 15 range & they were so delightful & reflected so much purity that it really touched our hearts. One little girl of about 11 years just kept looking at me & stroking my hand!


It seems that they were from several schools in the Nainital area -- a rural mountain city. Many were part of a sports team -- a sort of tag, which they happily demonstrated for us. We guessed later that their teachers must have suggested that they get off the bus & say "hello" to the foreigners. Were we glad they did! It set into play a delirious interplay of joy & friendship. We met their teachers, who were just wonderful. One was a Sanskrit teacher who we asked to chant some Sanskrit prayers for us. There must have been about 70 children & they had also just come from a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Badrinath! When they found out that that is where we were coming from, & that we were American Hindus, they were so excited they could hardly contain it! There was much fun,
excitement & laughter.


It just so happened that the vehicle in front of our bus was an empty truck, a "goods carrier," as they call them in India. Someone asked if we could sit in the back of the truck & have kirtan, & that is what happened! We just put down the tailgate & sat in the back with Colin singing a wonderful chant to "Narayana Vasudeva," the deity of the Badrinath Temple. Shivani played dholak. All the kids & teachers were standing around jumping & chanting & having a great time -- another "It could only happen in India" event! When the road was cleared, after an hour or so, no one wanted to leave. The Sanskrit teacher put his arms around me in a big hug with tears pouring from his eyes as we said "goodbye," promising to write & to send pictures -- which we have done.


From there it didn't take long to reach Devaprayag where we walked down to the junction of the two rivers & boarded our rafts. The weather was sunny & pleasant, but soon after embarking the clouds came over -- & then the rain started. We were all very cold & soaked, having a fairly uncomfortable time of it till arriving at our camp in the mid-afternoon. Most of our luggage had not yet arrived, as it had to be brought in on horseback. We took off our wet clothes & wrapped up in blankets in our tents until the bags did arrive. The next day also was rainy all day, so we sat around a warm fire in the dining tent on a bluff above the Ganga, drinking chai, singing chants & reading from "The Second Coming of Christ." It was great!


The next day, however, was beautiful! Some of the group went river rafting. Some wanted to go with me to Vashishta Guha -- one of my favorite places to meditate in all of India.



Part 5: Vashishta Guha