Pilgrims progress and potholes

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As monsoon mania grips the entire Nation, floods and furry in all its glory causes havoc as it rains incessantly.

Though it’s not been raining, cats and dogs in Delhi, but humidity does play its part well, by drenching its residents, in sweat and stink, making up for the scanty rains, I guess so!!

Delhi has a somewhat similar, yet dissimilar story unfolding each and every year, during the rainy season.

Each morning as I negotiate behind the wheels applying the clutch and brakes minus the accelerator
on the crowded roads of the country capital, the commuters are stranded for hours at the Dhaula Kuan junction .

This is a regular site for Delhites, especially those acquainted with this route and are very well accustomed and conditioned to it ,over the years.

Man , machine and the beast on the prowl with ubiquitous honking with constant belching, and burping by emitting smoke clouds is a common feature here.

Amidst all this mad rush, as I make my way moving at the snails pace, I realise that this month is synonymous and symbolic of a pilgrims progress and the potholes on the roads.

The opening of clouds has opened numerous potholes too.

Well, according to me, the Potholes act as a leveller , making me realise ,we all are equal mortals, whether it is the pedestrians or the owners of swanky cars .

The humps and potholes give equal turns in displaying ups and downs of human life .

Apart from being a regular visitor on the Delhi roads, with onset of monsoons , the potholes have a
life changing benefits to the ones personally experiencing them, as children and adults turn sporty with their long jumps.

They also act as speed breakers , as the over speeding vehicles land with a thud , irrespective of their class or creed. Some physicians and mechanics, may also be benefitted in the process .

These potholes also act as lovers paradise for some as well, with the budding romance and spicing up with the sudden application of brakes of a bike, for lovebirds riding it.

These sudden jerks gives some a reason to pour their heart out with use of the choicest and most foul expletives.

These slush filled potholes have maintained the continuity of their existence, year after year, unfazed by the development work, unlike the pilgrims known as ‘kwariyas ‘, who have changed by leaps and bounds, as the faith opts for modernization as well as commercialization.

Holy month of Shravan, that falls during the monsoons, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It also marks the Progression of the Pilgrims and Delhi becomes their halting spot.

During this period of the year when the faith is splattered all over the place, along with puddles, we have the devotees, the kwariyas, on the pilgrimage, who take this auspicious journey from the neighbouring states bordering Delhi, towards the river Ganges, to get the holy water from there and consecrate the Shiv Lingum, at their local temples back home, to propitiate Lord Shiva, a belief lasting and still persistent from ages.

Till few years back this pilgrims progress represented a true spirit of pilgrimage, as it was more of a treacherous journey undertaken, marked by hardships of a strenuous route along with renouncing worldly pleasures, which acted as a cleanser from worldly virtues, as the pilgrims carried two pots hanging from a bamboo stick on their shoulders and walked bare feet all along the route.

But unlike the potholes emerging in the monsoons, the pilgrims in progress have opted for a new makeover, except for the fact, that both are swelling in numbers, year after year.

Talking about the makeover part, few kilometres away from my place, as I come near the flyover connecting Gurugram to Dhaula kuan, one gets to see a huge tent like structure erected under the flyover, for the kwariyas. A huge buffet is on the display with blaring music as the youth in saffron, the kwariyas halt to take a break before they decide to zoom in their bikes and go on selfie clicking mode on their mobiles.

Vacationing and pilgrimage holds the same meaning for the modern day kwariyas, except for a few of course.

As they look for comfort and facilities, and if devoid of these, they may turn aggressive.

They can be seen hanging from the overloaded trucks, as some are perched on the roof tops of the same, displaying machismo behaviour, and some exhibiting rowdy and brash attitude towards the onlookers. Swarming in hoards as they believe in “my way or the high way,” with deafening music and raucous singing, snaking their way out by overtaking others .

One can only ponder over the impact of urbanization and hope for more potholes that act as a leveller or a dampener, by bringing these impatient souls to slow down with a thud and a bump, a little jump with a little spilling of grime over them, breaking their speed, which may turn them take a much calmer approach towards a holy and a pious journey.

Anjali, with a masters in English is a teacher on a sabbatical, loves travelling and spending time in the lap of nature, observing its bounties and being thankful to the hills.

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