Calcutta/Delhi/Vrindaban- -Ekadasi Up very early

January 20th, 2001

Calcutta/Delhi/Vrindaban- -Ekadasi

Up very early as we need to leave Mayapur by 4AM to catch our plane. A last thought:

Since I have lived in Vrindaban for over twenty years and have my heart there, devotees who go on pilgrimage with me usually also become more inclined to Vrindaban than Mayapur. I think this year it may be different. A strong sentiment of gaura-bhakti has been aroused by our pilgrimage here, and my sentiments have also been significantly stirred.

I?ll never travel on Ekadasi again. We caught our plane on time. That was no problem. We were conveniently picked by four Sumos (Indian SUVs) that I had ordered before I left Vrindaban. Going quite well so far. The trip from Delhi to Vrndaban, however, was nothing but trouble. A third of the way there, one of our vehicles sped up to us to say that one of our trailing vehicles accidentally almost brushed a motorcycle and that a skirmish was started. The two men in the motorcycle were local thugs and they beat our driver severely. I have the driver of our car turn around and rush to the scene only to find Caitanya Bhagavat walking along the highway. He leads us to the driver who is in a state of shock, his face covered with blood. I?m anxious to return, but we have no choice but to go to the local police?especially since the driver is insisting on reporting it.

Our caravan winds through a few dirt roads and arrives at a typical UP police station: a few brick rooms on half acre of sandy land. A fairly pious looking police chief, not more than 35 years old, is sitting behind his simple wooden desk filled with a few papers and files in the sandy courtyard of the station. A few jolly pot-bellied assistants surround his desk. Surprisingly, the two hapless thugs?who bear remarkable resemblance to what I envision Jagai and Madhai to look like?have been miraculously apprehended. They stand ten feet behind the police
chief by the two feet brick wall surrounding the property.

I plead with the police chief that now that the offenders have been caught he should let us take the driver and go, but he insists that there are a few formalities that need to be completed and it won?t be long. The police chief then gets up along with his assistant, walks calmly over to the accused, grabs them forcibly by their hair, drags them to the middle of the courtyard, and then?as a small crowd of local citizens congregate in a circle?gives the two accused a good beating. I look over to our newcomers to India?Andrew, Justin, Scott, and others?and can?t imagine what they think of their introduction to the ?wild west? of UP, India?s most populous state.

The police chief then again calmly sits at his desk, has our driver fill out some papers, and orders the culprits, who will spend the night in jail, to apologize to our driver. He then, to our surprise, stands up, walks over to me, and very respectfully with folded hands apologizes, ?Please excuse us. Our people are uncivilized.?

The only thing I can think of at the time is ?there?s a method to their madness.?
Luckily Patricia?s a professional nurse and Shaun, a paramedic. Between the both of them the driver?s wounds are expertly dressed. They assure me that his injury looked worse than it was, and he is fit for the rest of the journey.

We continue on the road. We are on the GT highway, the main road that goes from Amristar in the North all the way to Calcutta. Up until five years ago, it was a just a two-lane highway (one lane each way), so to pass a car you had to treacherously navigate against the traffic. It now has four lanes but it is still a strange mixture of cars, old trucks, bicycles, and buffalo carts. It blows Sesasayi Visnu?s mind that, despite the heavy cement dividers between the up and down traffic, we occasionally confront cars and trucks whimsically coming toward us the wrong way.

Just ten minutes after leaving the police station we hit a bicycle that cut us off without looking. Luckily, no one is hurt seriously. Still, by Indian law, if you hit someone, somehow it is your fault, so the police confiscate our driver?s papers. Our driver, a nice brijabasi, asks me if I drive, because if we wait for him, he says, it may be several days. It?s a long story, but after an hour we are somehow off again.

I think of mantra for the day??You can?t by a ticket to Vrindaban??and begin to wonder if we will ever get there.

We take no chances. ?Jaya Radhe, Jaya Krishna, Jaya Vrindaban.? It?s Vrindaban bhajan all the way back. We pass Kosi, the border of Vraja. We taste the sweetness of the dhama. We finally arrive after seven hours. Home at last!

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