Somehow the trip materialized, our tickets got confirmed. We went. Had a glorious time. Visited some old haunts. En route to our destination on day 3, we landed at the Tadbund Hanuman Temple. My eyes brimmed with tears, thinking of that December back in 1996 when we visited it every morning at 5.45 am. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, I would eagerly wait for the tamarind rice prasadam. As waves of nostalgia hit me, I thought, what a blessing in disguise that I could bring Vidur here to walk in your footsteps, on a Tuesday. Yes, we enjoyed the tamarind rice.
Catch me stopping a post at a 100 words! So, as we made our way towards T’s Mom’s house, we took the route via Tadbund. I simply had to show Vidur the Sri Tadbund Veeranjaneya Swamy temple, Mi. I told him about how we’d be up at 4.30 am, bathe and set off to the Hanuman Temple. If it was Saturday, we’d pick those “hanuman leaves” (arka leaves) and carry a bunch of those and hand them over to the Pujari.
I loved the betel leaf garlands too! We would then do forty pradakshanams with a namaskaram at the end of each one. Then we would watch the first “deeparadhanai” of the day and return home. I would open up my damp hair and you would light a sambrani and invert a basket over it. I would sit near it after switching on MTV Classics and eat breakfast watching Danny McGill work his own magic. If he featured I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that I could rest assured that the program would only have four songs in the half hour it aired. Then I would dress for work and leave at 8 am. Some days I’d be home for lunch and sometimes not.
Beautiful morning rituals of our own making.
Oh you should see the temple now, Mi. Security at the entrance – body scanner before we enter. Bag checking. I loved that camel in front of the deity – it is now covered in silver. And absolutely no photography inside. How I wish I had taken pictures of all the framed paintings on the walls! Vidur was simply fascinated and looked at each one with great interest. And looking at them through his eyes, I could once again appreciate them. Some of the pictures looked so much like his sketches. I did not trust myself to speak, for I knew no words would come out – I felt too choked with emotion.
When we passed the Rama Sita sanctum – I remembered how we gifted the vastram – you laughed when I chose a multi-colored silk cloth for it because I thought it would look lovely on the marble statues. The Shiva sanctum looks more posh now. My biggest grievance was the actual Hanuman sanctum – can you believe we can’t touch the rock? They’ve grilled off that portion. I fondly remembered how I loved hugging that rock, practically lying on it.
From the back entrance, we went to the theertham (which tasted just the way I remembered) and prasadam counter. There was a row of people standing there, chanting Rama’s name and encouraging us to do it as we received the…….tamarind rice! I was so delighted. It tasted just the way I remembered. I felt truly blessed. We bought a calendar with the photo of the deity.
Feeling blessed and accompanied by a most satisfied Vidur, we proceeded to T’s Mom’s house via AWHO Sector C. That Silk village road looks very different. The whole place is amazingly crowded, Mi. So many new shops. The part from DP to AWHO is unrecognizable. I had to look for the once prominent gate. We went in and I was stunned by the transformation! There is a proper park in the play area and opposite it on the right, is a temple! The office looks organized. I was sad to hear that our dear Arjun Rao does not live in Sector C anymore and is now bedridden. Santhanam has sold his house and gone away. I showed Vidur C-6 and N-5 and felt so emotional as I was flooded with memories of another day. Oh, Rohnak supermarket is still there!
As we continued to our destination, I took the route via Gunrock to Kharkhana and felt a little soothed to see that area looked the same. Naturally – it is Defence land. Once we hit the main road, it felt like pandemonium. The once rather deserted road is now a hub of activity. We visited Satya and had a most wonderful time. I felt sad we didn’t go to the Sai baba temple but we were already running late. We returned to Shnu’s place at almost 3.15, with only under two hours to leave for the station again. Somehow I managed to see Fauz on the way to the station – and of course, somehow we did make it in time.
Yes, this trip was a blessing in disguise. Designed to make me happy.
I can’t help smiling, thinking about how everyone thought my not wanting to marry was because of my devotion to Hanuman. What a crock.