Solace, solitude, succour – had gone to Shiridi searching for these but ended up getting a lot more. After years, I made a trip with Mother and apart from having a good Darshan, amazing food and great fun, I gathered some incredible memories – a treasure that I know I can cherish a lifetime.
Well, to begin with, the journey to Shiridi from Bombay was quite a picturesque one. We travelled along the jungle covered hilly terrain mostly throughout our journey. At the fag end of October, the weather was not playing a spoilsport much to our relief, and we made the most of the friendly environ.
I am a person who is mostly a ‘meataterian’. For me life’s philosophy is simple, eat what you love best and for me it’s mostly meat. However, in this trip, each and every meal was strictly vegetarian and I couldn’t have relished the food more. From Kashmiri Alu Dum, to Methi Paratha, to Veg Biryani to Paneer Noodles, I got introduced to a wide range of pure vegetarian cuisine and that was surely a first time experience for me in life.
We had a brief stop at Kasara Ghat and the view from there, atop the high mountain, was simply breath-taking. The blue sky high up, the lofty mountains in front and a jungle down below on the slopes of the mountain crevices were our constant companions as we travelled in this terrain. Suddenly, as the car raced past Kasara Ghat, we reached a place that had a completely different topography, with cultivation lands on both sides. This was the beauty of our journey. Not even for once, did we have any boring moment whatsoever. Nature surprised us at every corner and bend. We had started off from Powai at 10 AM and roughly around 3 PM, we reached Shiridi.
A place, which Sai Baba had made his home since he was 16 years old, was dipped in a complete religious fervour. The fakir saint had used alms for his daily sustenance while he lived. However, now, years after his death, his very own place Shiridi has transformed into a commercial hub, and each and every financial bargain is done in his name. Mother, who is a Sai Baba devotee, was taken aback by this very aspect and said the man who only had two rotis every day is now posthumously running an industry by himself. The question now is, would he have been happy to know the state of affairs today?
Anyway, we finally managed to reach our hotel and left for the Mandir Darshan after a brief interlude. The time we visited Shiridi was Diwali and Hindu New Year and naturally the place was overflowing with people. The main temple with Sai Baba’s statue is actually the point where the saint had been buried and for the festive season, the Samadhi had been opened for the devotees. Naturally, it was difficult controlling the crowd under the circumstances.
At this juncture, I consider myself fortunate to have met a guy who helped us get a Darshan where we didn’t have to stand in the queue at all. He did take some extra bucks from us, but for a good and hassle-free Darshan, it wasn’t too high a price to be paid. However, Mother still kept grumbling about how overcrowded and overtly commercialised the entire place had become.
Back at the hotel, the lavish all-veg spread for dinner was consumed with amazing vivacity and relish by both of us. From pasta, noodles, rice, roti, soup, kheer, the buffet had everything delicious to gorge on.
Next we after a yummilicious breakfast we set forth towards Bombay. The two days passed so beautifully. Mother and myself fought, made up, joked, laughed and simply had a good time. Today is her birthday and when I write this blog sitting in my office desk in Bombay, she has returned back to Kolkata. The memories of the days we had travelled together come to me, the empty roads, the lush greenery, the brown look of the trees and mountains remind me of the beautiful times we shared and cherished. More such days will follow and this Shiridi trip will act a beckon to even greater times together. For now, all I can say is Happy Birthday Mother.