Two days ago was the holy day of Shivaraatri, which literally means the “Night of Shiva.” Tons and tons of people flock to Kashi to offer their worship to Shiva in the Land of Shiva itself! We wanted to go to the Kashi Vishvanaath Mandir, which is Shiva’s main temple in Kashi, at midnight, but it was impossible to even leave the guest house we were staying in that night, because there were so many people in Kashi. So we decided to wait it out. Finally today we got out there in the morning.
This whole time I had been in contact with Satish Mahodaya, the main teacher from my spoken Sanskrit course in Delhi, who had told me that he knew the guy in charge of the temple pujas and stuff. He told me to contact the guy, and I did, and talked to him and everything, and he said he would get us darshan at the temple at midnight on Shivaraatri itself. But when time came to leave for it, nobody would take us, and our plan was foiled. So we decided we would wait for Satish Mahodaya, who was not currently in Kashi, to arrive here before actually going there, because I guess he would be able to take us through it himself better than we could.
So Dad, Nani, and I set out today at I don’t remember what time, but sometime in the morning we reached Kashi Vishvanaath. When we got there, there was a lot of walking involved, because the vehicle we came in could not fit through the gullies that surround the temple. When we reached the temple, we saw the size of the line. And stared. Satish Mahodaya had said that he would meet us at the main gate, but we were at the main gate and he was not there. But we were late, so we figured he must have gone somewhere. So we decided to stand in line. As we were walking to the back of the line, a hand came out of the throng of people in the line, grabbed my arm, and pulled me hard. I in turn pulled my Nani, who pulled my dad. And we were suddenly near the front of the line.
I looked behind me, and saw to my great relief and astonishment, Satish Mahodaya standing there smiling, saying, “I was waiting for you at the gate, but then I figured it would be more useful to just stand in the line and pull you in when I saw you! I almost thought I’d have to go do the whole darshan by myself!!” I was so surprised and excited to see him that without paying attention to anything else around me I gave him a hug and at that moment I realized he had said what he said in Sanskrit, and smiled. I think he knew why I smiled, because he then struck up a random conversation about how many people there were and other unimportant topics after that and we conversed for a while in Sanskrit. He commented on how my fluency, vocabulary, and grammar had improved since he had seen me last, a month and a week ago (when I started speaking). I commented on how Bangalore was one of the best experiences of my life, and he might like to go visit that place once, because it’s totally worth it. In the meantime, we reached the front of the line, and entered the temple. Once inside, it was like any other temple, with a few extra people, and we made our way through it offering our prayers at each altar. Finally, we got out of there and reached our van. This time we loaded ourselves and Satish Mahodaya, our new passenger, into the van and left, one more completed quest under our belts.
We were all really hungry, so we stopped at a place and ate kachodi, which is indescribable in English, and also in words. This place had the best kachodis I had ever eaten, and I made a mental note to make sure I came back to this place. But I’ve already forgotten what it’s called (you may laugh, but it’s not funny – I must find this place).
Anyways this is where Nani leaves us in today’s story because we sent her back in an autorikshaw from the kachodi place. Now it was just Dad, Satish Mahodaya, and me.