I was travelling from Gangorti to Netala in a shared taxi. I was about to reach Netala in 15 minutes. They closed the door of ashram at 5:30 p.m. My watch was showing 5:09 p.m. I was relaxed, as I would reach there on time, as the taxi was moving with a decent speed on hills.
The taxi slowed down, I could see buffalo herd in front of it. The herd was quite big. The taxi driver blew horn but the buffaloes kept moving with their pace without giving way to the taxi. The taxi owner blew horn continuously, moved his head out of the taxi window and shouted on his high pitch to buffalo owner to goad the buffaloes to one side of road and to make way for the vehicle. Very slowly, the owner goaded them that consumed about 7- 10 minutes of my precious time. The vehicle moved ahead and took its speed. I was calculating the time that I might not be able to reach early but would manage sharply at 5:30 p.m.
The taxi slowed down again and this time an ocean of sheep was ahead of us. The herd owner goaded the animals but they were jumping here and there, making almost impossible for the vehicle to move. Taking all the precautions, the taxt driver moved the vehicle very slowly without hurting innocent little creatures. This also consumed another 10 golden minutes of my life.
The taxi halted on the spot where I had to get down. The taxi owner climbed the roof of taxi to untie the rope and handed the heavy and bulky baggage to me. I was carrying a jacket in my hand and a polythene bag containing apples in another. All of a sudden, it started raining heavily. I took out the umbrella from my bag and opened it. I gave the money to taxi owner and ran downhill towards the ashram, carrying all the things in my hand and bag on my back. The polythene bag was not of good quality, could not hold the weight of apples, tore apart in the mid of road, apples scattered all over the way and a few rolled down far away. A villager saw this, came forward to help me. He gathered all the apples, gave them to me and I stuffed them in my bag which was already full. I walked rather almost ran towards the main gate of ashram. Alas! The gate was locked. What should I do now? I could easily jump that small gate but with the bulky luggage I found it difficult. I could not see anyone nearby whom I could request to open it. If I didn’t get in the ashram where I would spend the night, was the biggest question that was haunting my mind. There were many cheap hotels in Netala but which one was good and safe; I didn’t have an iota of knowledge about that. It was raining and I was sweating!
My presence of mind guided me that there was one more gate to enter the ashram, might be that was open or I could request someone there. I ran hurriedly towards that door, my jacket fell from my hand. I quickly picked it up and ran again. I reached in the front of that back gate. I felt relieved there was no lock on it. I moved the latch of the gate silently, taking every caution not to make noise. A student was sitting on the stairs saw me, he shouted and asked me to come from the main gate. Without wasting a second I was in the ashram premises, I ignored him, walked a couple of steps, threw my baggage, jacket and shoes near the dustbin in the veranda of ashram and ran towards the Director’s office to get myself registered for the course.
Pic – View of Ashram from the other side of Bhagrathi river