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Forgive them, oh Sri Sri, their worldly trespasses

March 12, 2016 20:00 IST

'Not that the trio aren't Art of Living loyalists. They respond to Guruji's summons with more alacrity than if their grandchildren need their diapers changed,' says Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Illustration: Uttam GhoshMy aunts say I should keep an open mind and not be judgmental, but one of them is a chronic tippler, another exorcises evil spirits over breakfast, and a third arrives and disappears from clan gatherings like a Cheshire cat, so I guess it's okay to take them with a pinch of salt.

In any case, you'd have to seriously question the mental health of relatives so bored with their lives, they're willing to give up the comforts of running water and tea (or whisky) on tap to join a queue of 3.5 million potential guests wanting to use the washroom facilities on the banks of the Yamuna at the same time.

Nothing has ended open defecation by the riverside as effectively as the recent security (not to say anything of JCBs that have flattened fields), thus making a clean sweep of naked bottoms, though the stink emanating from the white-topped tents housing the gazillions of posh restrooms is no less than the stench arising from the sludge under the pontoon bridges that got so many knickers in a twist.

Aunts and auntyjis have traipsed those pontoons with their arthritic knees and bunioned feet waving sticks of agarbatti to ward off the pong, but it might have been more effective to bathe in ittar instead.

You'd think the best way to watch dancers in tacky costumes performing Bollywood style would be on TV, but as Art of Living loyalists, my aunts pledged to make their way to the capital from distant parts, but it takes more than sound and light to stave off boredom, so Aunt #1 insisted she had to carry her 'medicine' with her, passing off the evening in an alcoholic haze.

'It's also dehydrating,' she giggled at me, meaning she was able to avoid repeats to the cloakroom, which might have done more to evaporate the mood of the moment.

Not that the trio aren't Art of Living loyalists. They respond to Guruji's summons with more alacrity than if their grandchildren need their diapers changed -- well, maybe, because of that.

There comes a time when ungrateful children put parents out to pasture, or at least expect them to respond to grandparent-ly duties with more grace than is possible.

Grandmoms crave their freedom too, and if it comes in the shape of yoga and meditation at five in the morning in ashrams preferably far from the stink of baby poo, who is to blame them?

But here's the rub. At the borrowed home of another aunt, which they'd requisitioned, the auntie trinity had to contend with doggie smells and suspicious damp spots on their bed sheets.

Since the dog was a permanent resident and had first dibs on the apartment, complaining was not an option, so the only thing to do was grin and bear it, or resort to medicine and agarbattis and a wobbly walk over tethered boats without thinking of the murky stuff that flowed below.

It was enough to make anyone throw up, but, of course, that wasn't an option with the security looking on.

So here's what my aunts did. They put their phones on silent mode and went shopping instead. Schmoozed a bit in the malls. Tried on girly outfits, giggled a bit over getting tiddly but not caught, took in the sights, ate themselves a storm, and caught a taxi home around the time the spiritual revels were ending to add their weary bit about it being soul haven.

Forgive them, oh Sri Sri, their worldly trespasses.

Kishore Singh
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