After Chaar Dhaam: Notes from hindsight

Dated – May, 2013

Two weeks after we completed our 10 day trip, there were cloud bursts and flash floods in Uttarakhand. The worst hit places were Rudraprayag, Kedarnath and Badrinath. The very same places I stood with Ma and Baba. They say thousands have died. The calamity was of an unimaginable scale. My first thought as I read the news was what if..what if I was standing there with my folks. What if while I made them smile for the hundredth photo, a massive roar caught us off-guard. And one of us was swept away. While everyone watched helplessly. I cringe at the thought of a dear one getting a mild scratch. Then, what if I had lost one of them in front of my eyes. I know I wrote about how praying at Kedarnath was life changing. But we pray for our well being right? You know the laundry list – take care of our family, keep us in good health, keep everyone happy and safe and so on. Of all the places, the shield of protection should have been the strongest in Chaar Dhaam right? The holy abode where thousands go walking through awful roads. Some without shoes. Some without warm clothes. Children in tow. Then what happened to all the prayers and all the faith? I am not making any point here. Just that writing about my trip almost seems monstrous now. And sometimes keeping your faith intact can be a tough task.

While we were on the road, I remember Ma saying innumerable times – they should do something about these roads. One heavy downpour and these roads will be wiped out. She did not know then how close to the truth she was.

Roads to Badrinath

For us, it was a great trip. Everything fell into place perfectly. The weather was just right. After Kedarnath, we had gone to Badrinath. There was no network there. We spent hours talking, walking around, arguing over random things. You know, things we used to do before technology invaded into family time. Badrinath wasn’t as impressive as Kedar, but the time spent was heart warming. Umpteen cups of tea and coffee. Pointless walks. Stories from when I was young. Stories from when I was not born. Dad’s much awaited bath in the hot springs. And mom’s outright refusal to go take a dip in a crowded public bath, hot as it might be! They made time for the photos too. 🙂 Called me every time they saw even a remote chance of a good pic! Waited patiently while I clicked random trinkets and stoned babajis. It was blissful.

Badrinath temple
Hot spring at Badrinath

Not sure when Chaar Dhaam will be functional again. And mostly, the infrastructure and ground realities would have changed by the time it reopens. So, no point giving any handy tips of where to stay and eat. I am just glad that we did the trip while it was still sunny. And safe. Sometimes life changes in the blink of an eye and well, sometimes life gives you a walkover. Ma and Baba are safe back home. And I sign off counting my blessings. 🙂

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