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Cricket in a monastery-25

Venky felt a gentle hand on his shoulder as all of them caught a last glimpse of swamiji who was now walking to the Lufthansa airlines counter.

It was Kishor. “Do you realize how graceful he is amidst all this madness?” Venky couldn’t agree less. “Yes, he seemed so keen to know who’s winning and he spoke about wishing the Indian team all the best and all that enquiry during our drive to the airport. And now he’s so cool; he’s detached and doesn’t seem to care what’s happening.

“I have never seen someone so deeply spiritually anchored”

Kishor said, “There is a reason behind all the cricket hoopla he seemed to encourage. He was simply cheering all of us. He personally doesn’t care about the game. Now he’s off to Italy. I bet there he’d glorify soccer and win the hearts of his students. But he’s beyond cricket or soccer or any game of this planet. In fact he’s got nothing to do with anything of this world. Just see him”

Venky and others caught one last glimpse of Maharaj through the glass window outside the airport. Maharaj was now off for immigration formalities and was out of view.

Just then the loud drums and fire crackers deafened Venky.

“Guys, rush in fast, before there is another traffic hold up” Gaur spoke in a frenzied tone. “It’s getting wild. We need to rush back to the temple before the city gets on fire.”

Soon their car was negotiating the packed crowd on Hughes road. Almost everyone was drunk and the dance was obscene to say the least. Men, women, children and the old alike jumped vigorously up and down; pelvic gyrations added sensual touch to the victory celebrations.

Suddenly a group of young men surrounded the car and screamed a war cry. “Are they celebrating a victory or screaming the death of their loved one?” Aki asked in disgust. The driver slowly maneuvered the car amongst thousands of people who lined up the streets to have a bash. Huge Indian flags atop cars, buildings and shops were a common sight. Gaur was driving back, carefully. A small mistake by the driver and if he hurt any of the people dancing in the streets, and there could be a riot. None of the people outside the car seemed to care who they were or where they were. They were intoxicated.

Venky looked at Kishor, “I am glad I am not celebrating this victory. This is sickening”

The return journey showed the potpourri of Mumbai’s festivities; colorful and extravagant. While people living in the slums bought out their drums and danced in abandon, the affluent whizzed past in their Mercedz and BMW’s, honking loudly and blasting western music off their stereos. Even the Gujarati women, in their traditional lehenga-choli outfit were boisterous. As the monks drove past carefully, Venky savored every moment of the spectacle.

There were other middle class men and women who rode on their two wheelers, carrying the Indian flag, gleefully. Children played cricket on the pavements as if to honor their older brothers who had just won the world cup. Girls giggled seated on the back seat of their boyfriend’s bikes.

Politicians of all sorts came on the streets announcing on the loud speakers, their prize money for the Indian team and how they had offered special prayers for the Indian team to win the cup. Opportunistic as they are, they capitalized on the frenzy that gripped the Nation. It was nearing midnight and suddenly peanuts seller and balloon wallas were in demand and the roadside eateries were busy with activities. Meanwhile loud fire crackers filled the sky and the city was euphoric.

An hour later as the clock struck 12.00, the monks were back at the temple-ashram premises. Shyam pointed to the group a middle aged man with his ten year old son, both faces painted with the Indian tricolor and they stood silently and tearfully at the gate. Venky thought the man was a familiar; he frequented the ashram often. But here he was with his junior, both offering reverential prayers of gratitude to their God as India had won the cup.

Just then Venky screamed at Kishor. “My bladder!”

“You were desperate three hours ago”, Kishor asked nonchalantly and then laughed, “You’ve been in the world cup trance, and have transcended the bodily urges”

“Oh my God, I forgot all about it” said Venky and he slowly, painfully strolled to the washroom.

Minutes later he was back, “I never realized I was so absorbed in the cricket event that I transcended the body”

“That’s called Samadhi”, declared Kishor, “you often hear about spiritual trance where the spiritual practitioner forgets all bodily miseries and needs. You are just so absorbed in the present moment awareness”

To be continued…


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