Not without a reason,it is said that activities related to God are never to be postponed. Who knows what happens when God is angry ?
Lord Balaji is one of our most favourite Gods. Venkata is a part of my name and also my brother's name. Some people even call us Venkat instead of Kishore and Kiran. From the times i can remember , we used to go to Tirupathi every year. I went with friends too once in my graduation days to "please" the God for a big help he has done :) So, when i took up a job, my mom was correct in saying that we all may not be able to continue going together to visit Balaji from now on.
In the first year of my job, somehow i managed to visit Balaji along with my parents. But, after that there came a break. Then, one day i thought -- i have to go to Balaji atleast once again, and offer my hair. But the lazy guy that i am , i postponed this for too long. Maybe the trouble has already started.
I used to go to Mantralayam too, quite often, and used to do 108 rounds there. So, my wish was to go to Tirupati -- climb the hills by feet and come down too by feet. And also visit Mantralayam and do 108 rounds.
Atlast, i decided to go in either November or December , after postponing it for atleast 5 months. My brother, my sister and brother-in-law told me that if possible, they also would join. But, as luck may have it, they couldnt. That is when i decided -- enough is enough, i have to go this time , even if it means going alone. I have already delayed it. The day of journey is going to be December 12th.
December 2nd : Its a sunday, we were sitting at home -- me and my friend. We watched a horrible movie in the pc. I told my friend that we need to go out and watch another movie, to erase this one. My friend said No. I persisted and we started for a movie called "Takkari" -- if you have watched it, you would be knowing our fate. If you havent watched it, lady luck is on your side atleast in this matter and let it remain that way. As usual, it was a second show, and when we returned back after watching the second bad movie for the day (this one in theatre)it was 12:45. You will find in another blog on what my 3 phobias are, but for the timebeing, just take it for granted that i am never comfortable when a dog is around. In the midnight, on our way home, a dog chased us -- we fell off the bike trying to speed away on the slippery-sand surface. Maybe the dog is too shocked that it forgot to bite us.A 130 Kg vehicle may well have fallen on it, it escaped narrowly. Had the bike fell on the opposite side, the dog is gone. But then, it started barking loudly and soon we were in the middle of "the gang". The kuha gang. Kuha = kukkala hadavidi (dogs' mess).
Somehow, we managed to escape, our friend's room is right there and the bike too damaged. By the way, why am i telling all this ? No, i am not mad. My legs were badly damaged, i couldnt walk properly for the next 5 days. Especially, the left leg -- the knee was badly bruised. Remember , December 12th is around the corner -- Tirumala hills up and down; and 108 rounds in Mantralayam -- a test of fitness !!
After 5 days, condition improved, i thought ! I was able to walk slowly, but still sitting with legs folded on the floor is impossible.
December 11 : The time to "plan" for the journey. As usual, a plan at the last minute. I would reach Tirumala on December 13th morning. I should start climbing up the hills at 11 AM. Reach there by 2 PM. Get my hair tonsured by 3 PM and stand in line. I should start my journey down the hills by 6:30 PM.
December 14th is supposed to be only for visiting local temples. And i would start in a bus to Mantralayam by the night of December 14th. When i reach Mantralayam on December 15th morning, i will have time till the night of December 16th to complete my 108 rounds !! Ah, too easy, this last part -- i thought !!
My friend Manoj listened to me patiently about this plan and then told me -- "you had an accident, however minor it is. So, dont go for too much". I brushed aside saying that my new found interest towards fitness will help me. Not even a month ago, i was able to run the 10K Run ,with just a single stop ! But he himself ran the 10k without even a single stop !! i should have listened to him a bit more...
December 12th and 13th : Cometh the hour then, the journey started. I reached Tirupati safely. Hotel rooms were not available and i got a "katara" room (couldnt describe that any better). I adjusted. I was told that Darshan will take 3 hrs. I started climbing up the hills at 10:45 AM. I reached Tirumala by 12:10 PM. Goodness me !! How wrong Manju was, i am doing too well, i thought. The hair tonsure was done quickly and i stood in the line at 2 PM. No food. Then started the wait. By the time i came out of Darshan, it was 6:15 PM.
My initial plan was 6:30 PM to start the journey down the hill. 6:15 is earlier, but then i realised that nobody is going down by feet. So, there is a chance that i maybe alone and 6 PM is too dark in the hilly area. In my journey upwards in the morning, i sat beside a scorpion !! And this is night time !!
I literally ran down the hill. But there was a rain in the afternoon and the steps were slippery. Getting down is not as easy as i thought because one mistake and it would be costly. I somehow found a company in another guy. We were the only two getting down at that time !!
By the time i got down 2 hours later, there are a lot of feelings -- tired, hungry(skipped lunch right ?) , headache ... Ate and went to sleep. Then there was this little nagging pain that started in my leg -- the dog chase-bike fell-knee hurt -- region. Maybe due to the hectic activity ? It would surely go away with a good night's sleep ? So, i went to sleep.
December 14th : The day when it turned on. My friend's words came true. The leg pain is "significant". It surely hasnt gone away with a good sleep. I checked-out of the hotel and put the luggage in cloak room and went for a bus to visit local temples. Alas, the rush was huge and couldnt get a ticket, its house-full time. But then, we have our Govt to fall back -- APSRTC bus to Kalahasthi. But first, I went to a medical store and told him that i had a minor accident recently and its paining now. When he told "take rest", i wanted to hit him on the head. Anyways, took 2 pain killers straightaway !! Then started the journey to kalahasthi. Came back. Visited a few more temples in an auto. When i returned back to the bus stand in the evening after done with the local temples plan, i couldnt even sit. The leg pain, though with the intake of 2 pain killers, is too much. It is like someone is beating with a stick there , at the knee -- all the time. One more pain killer, and i boarded the bus to Mantralayam. First leg of the journey complete.
December 15th : Got down at Mantralayam by 6 AM. The luggage is looking increasingly heavy -- what a difference our perception makes ! I couldnt stand, i couldnt sit too, i want to sleep. Oh my God, its unbearable. People are coming to me for guiding me to a lodge. They soon realised, its better to leave a frustrated person alone. Went to the nearest lodge, its the costliest over there, but i cant walk any further. I asked the lodge guy to get me some "good" pain killers from a medical store and a paste and a soap (left them all in Tirupati) and also asked him to wake me up after 4 hours. At that time, i had only one thing in the mind -- go to sleep, get up and if it still like this, take the return journey to Hyd. No way 108 rounds !! Surely the thought that the trip will be only half complete, came to the mind as a question mark. Immediately, i fell asleep.
This is the day , the day of the journey. 108 rounds is not a joke, each round is atleast 100-200 meters, it is a big temple. Remember my initial plan ? The most easiest part this is supposed to be, and see now -- its like an impossible task.
The guy whom i asked to bring certain things returned back at 10 AM. Disturbance of India !! He told me that the medical store guy is saying to "take rest" !! How the heck would i come on a tour and take rest ?? Took these new pain killers and also the old ones. Total 4 !!
Slept again and woke up at 12:30 PM. When i woke up, it was a wierd feeling. Coming for a journey to visit temples, on my own, like a man on a mission, and now sleeping ?? God, what's happening ? I said, let me try today and if it doesnt improve, will return back by the night bus. Went to the temple at 1:15 and had the Devasthanam lunch after the Darshan. Surely, no rounds now please.
Came back, slept again, after all i ate pain killers like peppermints. Woke up at 5 PM. Now, the decision time !! To go or to stay ? Go Go Go said the mind, stay said the heart. My friend aizu told me once --"All our friends who followed their heart have done well". Well, i was not thinking of this dialogue at that time because he told me this, this year (2008), the journey was in 2007. But then, that day, i decided -- enough is enough, even if i crawl, i am going to complete this. What is it like to come with a target and go back without doing it ? After all, came on a devotional trip, so it is God's responsibility to help me :) Went to the temple, started the "pradhakshinams". Could somehow complete around 30 in the span of roughly 4 hours !! A baby would be faster by manifolds. When i came back, a couple of pain killers again and went to bed. Dont know when i fell asleep.
December 16th : As per the plan the previous night, woke up at 6 and went to the temple. Had breakfast and/with 2 pain killers. After Darshan, started limping to complete the rounds. Dont know what others thought of me, but went on with one leg doing well and the other leg being dragged literally. That was the time/session when the war of pain vs willpower was at its peak. The pain increased, but the speed too !! It was like I wont care what happens tomorrow, i need to do this today and now !! Completed all the remaining by around 12 PM ! Hurray !! Game, set and match Kishore.
The journey was tipped off by the visit to Panchamukhi, where my favourite god Hanuman ji is there, in a share auto. Came back in the afternoon and slept again. Got up in the evening, went to the temple again, after all the temple is too near to the bus stand and if i sleep again now, dont know when i can wake up ! And in no time, i am in the return bus. Came back to Hyderabad, with the seemingly ever-increasing luggage.
The journey was done. If this was a test, i can say i passed atleast one test in my life !! A big trip, alone, unexpected twists, huge pain.
Decemer 17th onwards: Stopped "eating" pain killers. But then, the effect has already been made. Fell sick, vomitings,dehydration and all. It took 3 days for me to recover. And the leg ? Well, some more time...
But but but -- All is well that ends well !! Hurray...