The questions about when we would finally throw a party to celebrate our wedding with the community didn’t stop. We still could not walk two steps without a Baba coming up to us asking
“Palty? Palty? When palty???”
As my Baba belonged to the “Rishikesh Sadhu society” we had to organize something. I worried about how we would feed all the Babas. Let’s face it, we were in Rishikesh; how many Babas were around this area?
Five hundred? One thousand?
We had no idea about where and how to organize the celebration and our budget was pretty low. We talked to the Last Chance Café team, the little crew of the guesthouse we lived in, who became a family to us. They suggested celebrating the event in the guesthouse. They would also take care about organizing and cooking the food. The garden would probably be too small, but there would be enough space on the rooftop.
We decided to print flyers to invite a limited number of sadhus. Maybe this was not a nice thing to do, but we were afraid to run out of food, which would probably be even more shameful. We printed one hundred tickets. There would be puri, chana masala and rice.
What is really nice in India, is that even people you barely know will offer their help whenever needed; and even more if it is about something that involves the holy men of India, as it is said to be ¨good karma¨ to serve them selflessly.
A number the locals appeared early in the morning to help in the kitchen and to prepare the place. We stood on the rooftop, waiting for the first guests to arrive. In the early morning many sadhus had asked us impatiently when the party would be starting. Some complained that they didn´t get any ticket and we told them not to worry and to come anyways. For a long time, nobody showed up. My Baba decided to go to the Beatles Ashram area, where some of the sadhus lived under trees or in plastic tents to tell them that food was ready to be served.
Shortly after, I saw Baba from a distance emerging from the jungle followed by a couple of dogs and a large wave of orange and white clad figures. A long line of sadhus climbed up the shaky iron stairs to the rooftop. From afar it looked like a gigantic saffron-colored caterpillar crawling up the steps. Soon the space was fully occupied and some Babas sat down in the garden to eat or waited there for their turn, as there was no more space left upside.
The kitchen, where the cooking-team was unceasingly frying puris was steaming and the local volunteers eagerly served food and water to the sadhus. The sadhus came, ate and left in turns. It was and endless coming and going, occasionally producing a jam on the narrow stairs.
Suddenly there was a scream. I rushed to the garden to find out what had happened. A young local with a ponytail dressed in modern western clothes was lying on the floor, blood pouring down his face. I knew him; he was one of the cool, Bollywood-influenced Indian Kids of the area. The poor fellow had become victim of the absence of Indian safety measures. The rooftop was not bounded by any walls. He had touched one of the power cables that were lying openly along the border of the rooftop with humid hands and got flung through the air by the electric shock, landing in the garden three meters below.
He opened his eyes and stood up, looking embarrassed at the group of people forming a circle around him. Fortunately he was fine, the wound on his head was only superficial and looked worse than it actually was. He was a bit in a state of shock, but it seemed that his ego got hurt more than anything else, as his performance had not looked Bollywood-action-hero-like at all.
In the end we counted more than 250 sadhus. We had not run out of food and everybody was happy and satisfied. Finally we had fulfilled our palty-duty and could walk peacefully through town again.