Primera parada: “Last Chance”

Junio 2007

“Señoras y Señores en breve aterrizaremos en el aeropuerto de Nueva Delhi. Son las cuatro de la mañana y la temperatura local es de 42 Cº”

¿Cómo?

¡Ahora sí que estaba despierta!

¿Podría ser verdad, 42 Cº a estas horas de la madrugada?

¡Claro que era verdad!

¿Qué esperaba? Estábamos en junio, el último mes antes de que empiece el monzón, cuando el calor sofocante está llegando a su culminación en el Norte de la India.

Una vez fuera del aeropuerto, la intensidad del calor casi me tumbó. Subí al Rickshaw que se me había asignado en el contador del aeropuerto para dirigirme a uno de los hoteles baratos recurridos por mochileros que me había recomendado un amigo. También me había dicho que era uno de los hoteles de bajo coste más decente del barrio de Pahar Ganj y que era un buen sitio para alojarse en Delhi.

Como la mayoría de los hoteles de la zona, la habitación no tenía ventanas y dentro hacía al menos el doble de calor que fuera. Tomé una ducha rápida rezando que el trozo de madera que se estaba desprendiendo del techo no me iba a caer en la cabeza. Pensé que una ducha iba a refrescarme, pero el agua que salía del grifo tenía la temperatura de un buen caldo casero. Me tumbé encima de la cama debajo del ventilador ruidoso y tambaleante, intentando no moverme. Esto tampoco sirvió de mucho y en cuestión de segundos estaba igual de empapada que antes.

Tenía pensado quedarme una noche en Delhi y tirar hacía Rishikesh el día siguiente y aprendí que en la India hay que ser flexible. Había intentado salir de mi habitación para explorar el bazar, pero abandoné la idea después de solo cinco minutos. Era una tortura estar allí fuera, era como alguien me estaba poniendo un secador industrial de aire caliente en plena cara y con cada paso tenía la sensación de encoger. Volví al Hotel a por mis cosas y subí al siguiente autobús de turistas rumbo Rishikesh.

¡Qué ganas de salir de Delhi y que ganas más aun de llegar a mi destino!

El trayecto duró unas ocho horas y no pegue ojo en toda la noche. Por un lado porque no sabía que la intensidad de los golpes producido por las carreteras en mal estado se triplicaba en la parte trasera del bus (que por cierto estaba compartiendo con una familia India y el hijo más pequeño durmió tranquilamente con medio cuerpecito encima mío) y por el otro porque estaba muy nerviosa. Baba me había llamado el día antes y le dije cuando el bus iba a llegar.

¿Vendría a buscarme?

¿En que guesthouse me iba a alojar?

¿Como los dos íbamos a reaccionar al vernos cara a cara?

Todo olía a aventura y al amanecer crucé el puente de Ramjuhla con mi pesada mochila. También en Rishikesh ya hacía calor a estas horas tempranas, pero comparado con Delhi era un verdadero placer.

Para mí, cruzar este puente antes de que salga el sol siempre es un momento mágico. No hay ruido de tráfico y la paz me invade mientras observo como unas pocas personas ya comienzan sus rituales matutinas en las orillas del Ganges, que fluye majestuosamente por debajo de mis pies.

Me dirigí hacía el Last Chance Café, el lugar dónde quedábamos casi siempre cuando había venido a Rishikish para participar en el Festival de Yoga. Sabía que también alquilaban habitaciones. Pase por la callejuela del bazar. Todas las tiendas aún estaban cerradas y hasta las vacas y los perros callejeros aun estaban durmiendo. En el Last Chance tampoco nadie estaba despierto, me daba cosa de despertar a alguien y de Baba ni rastro. Así que por fin me quité la mochila que apretaba mis hombros y me senté en el jardín. Después de un rato apareció Vijay, que es el encargado, seguido por el cocinero y al verme ambos sonrieron de oreja a oreja y su primera pregunta fue:

“Y dónde está Baba Ji?”

“Esto ya me gustaría saber a mi” contesté.

 Me instalé en una de las habitaciones, para llamarlo de alguna manera. Creo que ahora toca describir este lugar único llamado Last Chance Café: Hasta este momento no había visto la guesthouse por dentro, ya que siempre nos habíamos sentado en el jardín o en la cabaña de bambú, que es el café-restaurante.

Más o menos estas eran mis primeras observaciones:

En la entrada se encuentra un pequeño escritorio que sirve de recepción y un armario metálico oxidado. A la derecha se hay un dormitorio con ocho camas que parece salir de una película triste sobre un orfanato. A la derecha hay una sala con cuatro puertas que llevan a las habitaciones, que de hecho se parecen podrían pasar perfectamente por establos para ganado: Las paredes están hechas de madera contrachapada que no llegan ni al techo; este espacio está cubierto por una alambrera, es decir que se puede escuchar hasta un pedito de tu vecino que está durmiendo dos habitaciones más allá. Ah, y no nos olvidemos de la habitación “Deluxe” a la que llamamos “la suite de luna de miel”, simplemente porque es la única habitación del edificio que tiene paredes de verdad, pero que en estos momentos desafortunadamente ya estaba ocupada.

Los baños y lavabos están fuera y dan al visitante la oportunidad de conocer a la fauna local de cerca, ya que allí habitan salamanquesas, ranas e insectos de todos los colores y tamaños, siempre dependiendo de la época del año. Las instalaciones no están alicatadas y funcionan con el antiguo sistema indio, también conocido como “Cubo y jarra”, es decir, no hay ducha. Lo que se hace es llenar el cubo de agua y echarse el agua por encima mediante una jarra. Lavar pelos largos requiere algo de práctica. Si realmente hace falta, se puede pedir un cubo de agua caliente en la cocina. Los váteres, también son estilo Indio, es decir que no hay asientos y que tienes que acuclillarte y practicar la postura de yoga del cuervo. De hecho yo prefiero este tipo de WC ya que me parece mucho más higiénico, visto las circunstancias.

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Ya había pasado un punto de fatiga en el cual fue imposible dormirme. Así que dejé todo en mi establo de vacas para dar un paseo por las orillas del Ganges, que por cierto había cambiado mucho desde mi última visita en marzo. Sus aguas ya no estaban tranquilas como lo recordaba y su color turquesa, se habían convertido en un tono café con leche, probablemente causado por lluvia y nieve fundida de los Himalayas. Me senté en un banco de piedra y observé como un gran número de ofrendas entregadas a la Madre Ganga en forma de flores de todos los colores flotaban alegremente por las suaves olas, cuando de repente sonó mi móvil.

 “Hola?”

“Ahora tu donde?”

“Sentada en un banco cerca del puente.”

“Ok. Yo vengo.”

Cinco minutos más tardes apareció mi Baba acompañado por otro sadhu. El reencuentro fue bastante formal: Nos dimos la mano, pero mi corazón palpitaba con fuerza. El, como siempre, me parecía guapísimo!

Sonrió y dijo:

“Chelo Last Chance!” – “Vamos al Last Chance!”

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Escaping the Bam-Bholes

View Kasar

July 2008

It was raining season in Rishikesh; which means: PILGRIM SEASON! This is when thousands of pilgrims, many of them from Hariana, invade Ramjhula. Waves of young men clad in orange march 24 hours a day through town shouting: “Bham Bole, Bham Bole” to announce their presence to Lord Shiva. They carry holy water from the Ganges up to the Neelkanth Temple to offer it to the Shiva Lingam. One rule is that the water shall never touch the floor, so all the dhabas and chaishops on the roadside build improvised holders where the pilgrims can hang up their holy offering during their breaks. What I found very funny is that they come back from the temple wearing their underpants on their heads! ‘Strange rite’, I thought and then found out that they do so to dry their pants after having bathed in the temple compound. I wonder what the Indians would think I they saw a horde of Westerners marching through town with their underwear on their head…

Anyways, things get tough for a foreigner during this time of the year, as the pilgrims usually give them a hard time. The foreign tourists actually get evacuated by the authorities from the hotels and guesthouses next to the pilgrim trail and are sent to accommodations in more peaceful areas. So it happened to us and we decided to simply escape from all the turmoil. Baba and I had made friends with a girl from America and we decided to travel together. None of us felt like traveling too far, so we checked on the rarely used travel guide to find nearby attractive places. I hate to read instructions of any kind and also dislike reading guide books! We went through the section of Uttarakhand and stumbled upon Almora, which was only a one-night-trip away. I liked the melody of the word “Almora”. There was not much text to read about it, but as we skimmed it and read

“There is a nearby town called ‘Hippie-Land’ by the locals; ask for accommodation at the chai shops on the road”

it was decided: CHALO ALMORA!

As soon as we left the town of Almora after having survived another crazy local bus ride through the mountains and arrived in the village, I fell in love! It was simply beautiful! Peace, pure nature, village life, cool, fresh air and colorful flowers everywhere! I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Actually there is not much to do for tourists, life there is still pretty much authentic. No shops with tourist stuff to buy, no courses or classes, no distractions; it is the perfect spot to chill after having traveled through “Indian hard-core tourist places”. The scene really forces people to calm down, to be with themselves and nature.

We found a simple guesthouse where we spent a lot of time in the roof-top restaurant while the monsoon was pouring down and simply enjoyed the amazing view through the big windows, which offered a great view over the ever-changing clouds, rainbows, valleys and hills while we were munching on chocolate pancakes and sipping chai. It was off-season there, too and we only met one more backpacker. One day early in the morning I stepped out of the room and could not believe my eyes! The rain had stopped, it was a bright clear day and there they were, as if somebody had hung up a painting just in front of my eyes:

THE SNOW-COVERED HIMALAYAS !

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I had no idea that they were that close! Shame on me! Maybe sometimes reading a guide book is not a bad idea, but if you don´t read it you might get blessed with unexpected surprises like this one.

Some peaceful weeks later, Baba suddenly received a phone call from Bihar. His 103-years old grandfather was dying and his last wish was to see his grandson he had been missing for too many years. Since Baba ran away from home at the tender age of eleven he had returned to his birthplace only once after 17 years of absence. After the initiation to Sadhu-life you are reborn as a new being and should break all the attachments to your previous life, which also includes the physical family; at least until you have reached a certain stage.

But once it happened, when Baba and I were visiting Benares, that he suddenly became very introverted. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that soon it would be Rakshabhandan, the festival when the bond between brothers and sisters is worshipped and that he would like to see his sister again. Varanasi is not very far from his birthplace and I told him that I would buy him a train ticket if he wished to go there. He called his Guruji to ask permission and when Baba received his blessings, he took a train to Patna. All of his family thought that he had died and was more than pleased that he returned as a Sadhu, which is believed to bring seven generations of good luck to the family.

So now the grandfather wished to see his beloved grandson again. For some time the three of us were just sitting there wondering what to do. The Himalayas are pretty far from the plains of Bihar; to be more precise about 1000 km, which can be translated into 2 days and 1½ nights of traveling in pubic transports.

Uma in Wonderland

My friend looked at me and asked:

“You feel like going on an adventure?”

“Why not?” I replied

“Okay, then… CHALO BIHAR!”

Bhandara – The Sadhu “Palty”

July 2008

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?

bhandaraEverybody knew us and now even more, after we had been on TV and in the newspapers. If the word spread that there would be a bhandara, probably each and every one of them would show up.

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.

BhandharaA 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.

Babas

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.

Unintentionally Famous in India

April 2008

The next morning our story was in the papers.

cuttingThe titles said things like

“Baba-Ji caught in Uma’s love trap”

and

“Uma Devi seduced Baba-Ji to a worldly life with her Kayal-eyes”

Once again, I just can say:

INCREDIBLE

We shot to fame in town and could not walk even two steps without people stopping us waving with the newspaper in their hand and asking us when we would throw the big party for everybody. Strangers congratulated us and people who intentionally ignored us before were suddenly extremely friendly and invited us for a cup of chai. In accordance to Indian tradition, Baba was still distributing sweets to everyone. I think he had bought the entire stock. Down to the present day I still wonder which part of the crazy shot the medias showed on TV; We never got to see it, but received phone calls from all over India and even Nepal from people who did.

I know people in the west who feel having lost part of their freedom after marriage. In my case I was exactly the contrary; I felt more free than ever! No more creepy comments from passing men and the looks I received were nothing more but confused or simply curious as their gaze fell on my sindoor, the red vermilion mark which in Hinduism indicates that the woman wearing it is married. I generally received much more respect than before the marriage.

newspaperBut still, the guesthouse manager did not let us share a room, as the official papers were still missing. He advised me to go to the police station and ask directly there for permission. How embarrassing… as if the police were my parents and I had to ask them if I was allowed to sleep over at someone’s place.

But isn’t there almost nothing that one would not do for love?

So, a little nervous, I indeed walked to the police station. As I stepped in, I could feel the grin behind the police officer’s straightfaced expression. I was sure that the entire police station had already read the newspaper or seen the news on T.V. Timidly I spread the newspaper cuttings and the temple marriage certificate over his desk.

“Sir, I wanted to ask you if it is okay now that I share a room with my husband. Yesterday we got married, but we still do not have the official marriage papers”

He called his colleagues and his boss, who gathered around the desk to eye up the cuttings.

“Congratulations. Where are the sweets?”

“Excuse me? Oh… actually I completely forgot, but I can come back and bring along some sweets later on”

“Good! Fine, you may share a room with your husband. But get the papers done as soon as possible! It’s important! Have a nice day, Madam”

Relieved I left the police station.

Mission accomplished!

SUBKUCH MILEGA – EVERYTHING POSSIBLE

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February 2008

When I arrived back in Rishikesh I did not have the impression that I had been away for months; it seemed to me that I just came back from a day trip. It was early in the morning and the only place that already was open was Kashi’s Chai Shop, where Baba and I met.

The familiar smell of sweet chai coming from the ever bubbling teapot delighted my senses again. The best chai in all Ramjhula! The chai stall is a self-built plastic tent that stands in a corner next to the shore of the Ganges. Most of the local sadhus spend some time of the day there to have their tea or eat the wonderful thalis cooked by the family.

Cheap and best!

I always wonder how many chapatis the Mataji has been baking there on the fire pit in all of her life. It is also the best place to learn about the latest Rishikesh news. Everything that happens will be discussed at Kashi’s chai shop first. The news I got were not too pleasant; peak season was about to start, so the police was all over the town to provide “safety” for the tourists. No good news for us, because this meant probably a lot of trouble coming up for a mixed couple like us.

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I moved into our base-camp in Last Chance Café. Vijay, the manager, was very happy to see me again but told me straight away that there was no way that Baba could spend even one minute in my room. In most parts of India, guesthouses and hotels will only allow an indian-western couple to share a room if they are married.

At Last Chance something had happened that changed the freedom we enjoyed there before:

Dadaji is an old German Hippie who always stays in Last Chance whenever he comes to Rishikesh. He had trouble with a police officer, who followed him constantly and accused him of smoking charas in big quantities. The officer tried hard to find something on him to earn some baksheesh. Dadaji eventually got tired of that game and told the police-wallah to get stuffed. The officer didn’t like that at all and showed up now everyday in the guesthouse in search for any kind of possible revenge.

It didn’t take long for him to make life impossible for us, too. He was in charge of the area and wouldn’t leave us in peace even for one day. We couldn’t even sit together in an open space without that guy showing up to make some trouble. Eventually he demanded weekly baksheesh together with a bottle of whiskey; only then he would leave us alone and not tell any of his superiors that Baba and me were spending our time together. No way that we would get engaged in that stupid game!

Sometimes life seems absolutely surreal in this country!

Then one day, Vijay caught us while Baba was sneaking out of the room. There was a big discussion, both sides understood each other’s problem, but there was no real solution to it. Other backpackers had moved into the guesthouse; there was Derek, our good friend from Belgium, a young couple from France, an Israeli, a Canadian guy and a girl from the US. Like every evening we would all sit together in the Bamboo-hut-restaurant for dinner. Our dilemma was the main topic of the evening, when Vijay suddenly came up with a fantastic idea:

“Why do you guys not just get married?”

Everyone but me was pretty enthusiastic about that suggestion.

“Are you crazy? This is not Las Vegas! Where I’m from, people don’t get married just like that”

“You love each other and if you get married, you will be free and won’t have any kind of trouble anymore; so why not? I have a friend, who is a lawyer; if you want, I’ll help you to arrange everything. Think about it!”

Baba didn’t say anything; he just sat there and smiled.

For some time, nobody mentioned the word wedding anymore. Then, one evening Baba and I were having a picnic on the rooftop of the egg-building in the Beatles Ashram while we were silently watching the sunset. This was one of the few places where we still felt free. We felt drained from all the police issues and treated like a couple of criminal suspects. We weren’t commiting any crimes; the only thing we wanted, was to be together.

“Maybe marriage good idea” 

said Baba suddenly and added

“No problem, after marriage, nothing changing”

“Maybe…yeah, why not…”

This is how we decided to get married for the sake of freedom; with one condition:

Both of us would be free to return to our old lives at any time. Who knows? Maybe one day Baba would choose to go back to his original Baba-life; and maybe I would find out that this kind of living was a touch too crazy for me.

As the famous Indian saying goes:

SABKUCH MILEGA – EVERYTHING POSSIBLE

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What if… ???

Gangaji

October 2007

When you start a backpacker adventure, the first couple of months you feel that you have all the time in the world. Once, the first half of travelling has passed, time flies!

Baba and I spent the last weeks I had left in India in our base camp in Rishikesh. I already started missing the majestic flow of the Ganges, the colors, the scent of incense mixed with burning garbage and the chaotic but at the same time easy way of living.

I was sitting at a chai stall on the road, petting one of the friendly Ramjhula cows that had come to see me in search of some affection. I looked into her big brown eyes with the long eyelashes and thought

“Where I will go back to soon, people eat guys like you” 

Cowthe cow chewed worriless and rubbed her head against my leg. Did she know how lucky she was? I imagined how it would be to come back to Barcelona after six months of living in a totally different dimension. I had no idea about how my life would go on, where I would live and what I would do. Everything still seemed so far away, but the moment of departure was approaching faster and faster.

What if India had just been a onetime craze?

What if I would just embrace my India adventure as a lovely memory and then release it?

What if I would find out that what I wanted in the end was to find a job I liked and live the life I lived before?

What if I would realize that I was still in love with my ex-boyfriend?

What about Baba?

He probably would not understand a thing about my inner chaos; Sadhus have other worries…

The more I thought about it, the more everything I had lived in this corner of the earth seemed to be only a dream from which I would soon have to wake up. My mind was neither here, nor there.

In a quiet moment I decided to share all my doubts with Baba. He just looked at me and said nothing but

“No problem!”

Ahhhhh! India! The No-Problem-Country!

I thought desperately

“But what if I will never come back to India?” I replied

“This no matter” he said

“I love you always!”

I think this is one of the most beautiful things someone ever said to me; and a phrase that influenced a lot in the decisions I would take.

IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY, SET THEM FREE!

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Trouble in my Bubble

July 2007

My wonderland bubble was about to burst!

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The town was getting crowded; pilgrim season had started. Each year people arrive from all over the country to pray on the shores of the Ganges, visit their Gurus in the Ashrams and to offer holy water to Lord Shiva in the Neelkanth Temple. The bridges leading to Ramjhula and Laxmanjhula were so crowded, that crossing them could easily take more than half an hour.

For a foreigner this season can become kind of annoying. There are many villagers among the pilgrims, who probably never saw a Westerner in all their life, not even on T.V.

To leave the guesthouse for a cup of chai, turns into a challenge. Once you are out on the street, Indian women point at you giggling and groups of young fellows look at you in most uncomfortable ways whispering behind your back. It is not a good idea to get yourself into posing for a souvenir snap. If you do so, you will be expected to stand there for hours, because the entire group also wants at least one shot with a smiling Westerner. In the meantime a long queue with more pilgrims is waiting for their turn. Indians can be really persistent and it is almost impossible to break out of the situation without getting rude.

If you did not give up and eventually made it to the chai shop, you will probably be sitting in the middle of a lot of young male pilgrims, who will be staring at you constantly without even blinking. To us this might feel pretty uncomfortable, but staring is actually not considered impolite in India. As a foreigner you turn automatically into the center of attraction. It is irrelevant what you wear or what you do and it doesn’t make any difference if you are just sitting there doing nothing or if you are performing a hula dance; people will just stare. Feel free to do the same, there is no need to feel shy if you want to find out more about an unusual situation that attracts your attention.

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Another fact is that if you have spent a longer time in Ramjhula, you automatically become part of the local society and its gossip. Sometimes it is better not to understand Hindi, I guess.

I was pretty surprised, when several strange Sadhus approached me in a funny way to give me some unasked spiritual advises about how to reach illumination and telling me stories about their superpowers. Each time the encounter ended with this guideline, referring to my Baba:

“This Baba no good, you take care! You better no meet!”

Actually they wanted to convince me that hanging out with them instead would be much wiser and they were more than likely trying to woo away a Western sponsor.

Things are really not easy when you (are a woman and) befriend a Baba in Rishikesh. The police was constantly annoying us. Some said that their duty is to protect the female travelers from getting into trouble, but my impression was rather that they tried to make life impossible for us to get some baksheesh out of the situation. The police would stop us on the street and sternly insist that I was not allowed to go along with this Baba. We were not even doing anything wrong or unmoral such as holding hands or kissing in public.

The police even appeared out of nowhere to make trouble when we were just sitting at a chai stall with friends or playing an innocent game of LUDO together with a couple of Sadhus in the shadow of a tree. I started to wonder if they were spying on me. I tried to convince them that I am a grown up and may walk with whoever and wherever I wished. This did not impress them much and they even threatened to beat Baba up or to put him into jail. I wondered with which reason they would imprison Baba. But if they really wanted to do so, they would probably invent any silly motive. I already had learned that the Indian police doesn’t waste much time with talking, they don’t hesitate to pull out their clubs and proceed to the so-called “Bamboo-massage”.

Eventually we ended up walking on the road separately to meet up somewhere later on. What happened to our freedom?

All the signs were pointing to the same direction:

The time had come to move on!