We were finally a couple of minutes away from reaching Dargah Sharif. It was Ma, Bhaiyya and Bhabi’s long time desire to visit this holy place and they were on Cloud 9 at that moment. As we carried on towards the Dargah on the crowded road, we were asked to park Tulu. We took a turn into a parking space, which was merely some open space infront of someone’s house. They gave a written token but stipulated car key to be handed over to them. We were apprehensive about giving the car keys to them but apparently there was no other choice. All parking areas there had the same unwritten rule. We had two laptops in the car, so Abbas said “You all go. I will stay in the car”. The guy there came upto us and said “You have come to a holy place. Keep faith in God. Nothing will happen to your car or your belongings”. I remembered an age-old saying ‘Trust in God but lock your car’. Ma wanted Abbas also to come as she wanted to offer some prayer with the entire family together. Left with no other option, we walked towards the Dargah.
On the way, we were being invited by several shops which had Chaadars and a platter with flowers, agarbathis, shirni neatly arranged. We bought a platter from one of them where we had to deposit our shoes. Here, there was no token handed over. It was again a matter of faith, after all. Why can’t they simply have an efficient system? I failed to understand. At the entrance, there were security guards who frisked our bags. They asked us to deposit the cameras. Bhaiyya went to deposit both our cameras and gave it again at the same shop where we had kept our shoes. That too without any token or written note that our valuables were with them. We were irked to bits. The guy could easily deny later that he was not given any camera. We would have no case to even argue. We were so scared dreading the worst when we came out. Just imagine – No camera, no Tulu, no laptop, no clothes, no shoes! Phew… Non-religious folks that Abbas and I are, we couldn’t wait to come out of there even before we made an entry!!!
All of us had to attend nature’s calls. We struggled to find a loo in the first place. Whatever we found, with great efforts was the dirtiest ever. We were all bare-footed and they had a single pair of dirty slippers which everyone used while using the loo. After we came out of the grimy place, there was a clean place within the dargah with water supply. We cleaned hands, feet and face there. Two people approached us claiming to belong to the Dargah committee and showing visitors around was their duty. When we asked if they charged for this noble task that they do, he denied and said “You are free to give whatever you want”. After a while, he vanished into thin air when he realized we were not gonna shed a penny on him. We stood in the queue to enter the shrine. Another guy from the committee approached us and offered to take us in directly if we paid him. We preferred to go in the queue. He mocked at us and left. At the entrance of the shrine, there was one person sitting with a pea-cock feather broom which he would use to brush each person entering the shrine. This guy had a ‘Hundi’ (fund box) besides him. But we noticed that people were giving money in his hands rather than dropping in Hundi. When we neared him as the queue advanced, we saw one guy ahead of us who wanted to drop money in the Hundi and the broomwala guy insisted that the money be given to him. When the guy was adamant, this guy admonished him, didn’t brush him with the broom and neither did he let him drop money in Hundi. He did not brush us with the broom too, may be he thought we belonged to that guy’s family.
Finally we entered the shrine and we were out in 5 secs exactly. Those who were dropping money got another 5 secs extra perhaps. But those with platters in hand came out even before their eyes blinked once. After coming out, we had some threads in the platter which we could tie to get any of our wish fulfilled. Even there, I noticed some people who were untying the threads already tugged there. Perhaps, they ran short of threads in the shops to fill the offer platter. Sigh!!! My heart ached to see the holy place where millions of people visit irrespective of their religion so pathetically disorganized. Only thing that was professionally perfect was commercialization of everything.
Abbas and Bhaiyya went to the segregated area where men were praying, Ma and Bhabi to the women’s area. I sat in the common area with 4 kids and we played ‘I spy’ there. With famished kids asking me to give them a speck of food in between, I chose to forget that I was hungry too!
We left the place at 4 PM and thankfully we got back all our belongings intact. Again like previous day, we found no restaurants open at that hour. So we decided to go to Pushkar where we had our bookings for the day, hoping against hope that they would have some food for us hunger-stricken souls. We reached the hotel at 5 PM. Without even checking in to the room, we directly hit the restaurant. All they had was Pakoras and sandwich with tea/coffee. Four plates of sandwich and five plates of pakoras were nowhere to be found within minutes of being served at the table. Our tummies still craved for more. But we decided to freshen up and come back to have dinner at 7:30 PM.
Long post already! I decide to pause here. Again no pics for the day amidst all the havoc.
To be continued tomorrow with pics, I ensure!