#GoaDiaries: In Search of The Banyan Tree Baba

Late night beach parties. Bikini clad Russians. Cheaper than water alcohol. Yes, I am talking about Goa. But no, its not about those crazy Goa stories which you would have heard and read several times. Its about a baba- The banyan tree baba and his peace garden. Its the same baba who has been referred in the song ‘Babaji ki booti‘ from movie ‘Go Goa Gone’.

One of our friend had told us about a baba situated near the Arambol beach. Not that we were any religious bunch, but what all we had heard about that baba was exciting enough to give him a try. We were told that we had to take some fruit for the baba and in returns he gives a magical booti as prasaad. We were also told that we can have a mud bath at baba’s ashram and umpteen foreigners visit baba’s peace garden.

So the five of us enquired about that baba on the beach and took the way towards him. We were shown a small hill, at some 500 metres distance, covered with thick green cover and told that baba stays on it. The hill was beside a sweet water lake. While some said its a 10-15mins walk to baba, others warned us that it may take an hour. Not the distance, our worry was time. It was already 6 and sun was touching the Arabian sea.

We were at the footsteps of hill and we could see the beach at some distance now. There was not any way visible which could take us to this mystic baba. It was starting to turn dark. As we were about to turn back, three foreigners came and took a way in the hills. Only then, did we realize that there actually was a trek to climb the hill, going through the forest, which may take us to the baba. It wasn’t a laid down trek. Less than a metre in width, it was rocky, muddy, slippery with sweet water lake on one side. And it was all dark. And we had no idea if baba will still be available. Not so apprehended, still we decided to take the road less taken.

The trek was taking us up. It was taking turns every few metres and we could not see anything ahead. Five minutes in the walk, there were just five of us. In the middle of a jungle, walking a path in total darkness, not knowing where it may take us and for how long do we need to continue our walk. One wrong step and it could be the end. Needless to mention, there were no mobile signal either.No practical reason could define why we were still going ahead. But we continued.

Forest trail leading to Babaji (Image courtesy: sulekha.com)

It could have well been a scene from a horror or suspense movie. We were all scared by now. Few foreigners crossed us as they were heading down. And trust me, none of them could help in settling our nerves. The way they were dressed up and their body language, it was only adding to the screenplay of this thriller.

15-20 minutes. We were still walking to meet that baba, with our mobile torches on. Some of us, now wanted to go back. But the others continued to walk. At one point we reached a juction, with two ways heading towards right amd left. There was a board indicating peace garden towards right. We turned and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, in the middle of a jungle, there was this man. With the built of a bouncer, that Russian guy scared off whatsoever the shit was left in us. We asked him the way to baba and he told us to take the other way. It was very much clear now that we were at a wrong place at the wrong time. But we continued to walk.

10-15 mins further. Another junction. But both right and left seems to be bringing us to a dead end. Then we realize, there was an arrow heading right towards peace garden. We could also hear some voices now. And that’s it, we knew that we were that close to our destination. Before we could move further, one of us backed off. Scared, he gave up and started walking back. Being so close and after so much of the efforts, we couldn’t have missed the chance to meet baba and neither  could we allow our friend to go back on that dangerous path alone.

“Come back yaar!” “We have reached our destination.” “You can’t go like this” The remaining four of us were shouting. He had already made his mind. He was gone and we could only hear him refusing to come back. And you really can’t blame him for this, because we all knew that what we were doing was stupidity. But going back alone in pitch darkness was idiocy. And when I add that his cell phone was switch off and he had no torch light, his decision becomes insane. Not to forget that his panic button was on.

The four of us were looking at each other’s face. What to do now? After so much trouble, when our destination was right in front of our eyes, we couldn’t give up. So we shouted and asked him to wait as we were coming back. Meanwhile we decided to just go and rush through our meeting with babaji, expecting/ hoping that he would wait for us. There were some rocks over which we had to move and move carefully because had we lose our balance there, it could mean disaster as a small stream of water (that hill’s natural drainage system) was flowing beneath. Few steps towards left, a turn on the right and we were at our destination.

Have you seen in any of of the movie where a tantrik would be doing some kind of pooja in the middle of a jungle at night. It was something like that. There was fire in the middle and the baba was sitting across it. There was a guy lying on the left side and 2-3 others, probably his chelas. We took our floaters off and stood on the right side of fire. The baba was having a chat with his chelas. If I remember it correctly, he was dressed the way a baba is supposed to be i.e. in a saffron dress. But he was not your ordinary baba. He was speaking Punjabi and using all sorts of cuss words involving mothers and sisters.

We had no idea what to do now. We were just standing trying to figure out what were we doing there. Meanwhile, the baba offered us to have a seat. We politely refused. “Baba ko kabhi na nhi bolte! (No one dares to say no to baba)” came a voice amongst his chelas with an intimidating undertone. We sat on the mattress spread beside the fire. Obviously, we were hell scared. So much that, none of us had the courage to present to the baba the gift we had brought for him. Twice did the baba’s chelas prompted us to offer gift by asking babaji to accept gift from us. We were just sitting, looking at each other’s face with the question that should we move now. Meanwhile, in background, we could hear the voice of our friend, “Where are you guys?” “Are you guys coming back?” But we could not shout back at that moment. I don’t think so it was more than 5 minutes that we spent there. Without uttering any words, we made an exit.

Before we could analyse what was that, we had to find Saurabh. He was not at the place where we had left him. We kept walking and after every few seconds, were yelling his name, but in vain.  “He is not a kid. He must have gone back”- was one set of thoughts, but it was such a dangerous path to walk alone at night without any light. We were obviously, very concerned.

Meanwhile, we reached the beach and tried calling him. His phone was obviously switched off. Where could he go? We kept trying him phone and finally, we could go through the call. He was at the parking lot safe. He then told us how he was standing alone petrified and was in tears when none of us was replying to his calls. It was at that time a foreign couple crossed him and helped him to reach the beach safely. At the end, we all were safe.

This crazy little adventure ended without any harm being done. Or probably, it wasn’t any kind of adventure, just the fear of our minds. In the midst of all lunatic things we did at Goa, this crazy experience will stand apart. But I will have to admit, it was by no means a wise thing to do. There could have been much better ways to celebrate Valentines Day (Yes, it was 14th Feb!) then visiting an unknown baba on top of a hill in the darkness of night.

Keeping all this aside, we then visited the Saturday night market, followed by the famous Curlies shack at Anjuna beach and enjoyed Goa the way it is more traditionally supposed to be enjoyed.

An image of Banyan Tree baba as found through Google
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Dear Santa Clause,

Since throughout the year, I have been a good boy, Santa has asked me to send my and my friends wishes to him. Since, I was short of time I myself have written down the list of what you all my friends would like to have. Please go through the list and do let me know if I have omitted your name or you require something else.

Saurav: increase in pay!

Bhutani: a role in Haryanvi movie

Sonal: a rifle to kill those who havn’t wished her on Birthday

Thanda: another poster for explanation of the previous one!

Tanu: she wont ask anything, infact she would start arguing why there is only male santa, not a female one!

Shuchita: some old newspapers to create her new dress

Manhar: he already has got what he wanted, and now its his problem if he is not accepting it. :P

Anuj: cluth plates for his Sonata

Bharti: promotion from the job of driver

Abhijeet: a new flat, to shift yet again!

Isha: I don’t know what she wants (actually i do, but can’t put it here), but my personal request would be to please give her some brain!

Devyani: tips on how to handle your juniors

Harman: C2H5OH

Raunak: spectacles!

Mohit: I think it would be Santa who would be begging Mohit for one out of so many that he has got!

For me: Some peaceful sleep. Good night.

Write in your own Christmas Wish in comments!

**WISH YOU ALL A MERRY CHRISTMAS**

Three Mistakes of that Night

After Mohit in One day@Examination Centre, it was the turn of my friends, Manhar and Bhutani. A series of tragedies happening with them on a single night provided me the content for this blog. Go Read and enjoy!
(but don’t expect it to be as tragic as Mohit’s incident.)

2.30AM

I had just gone for sleep. Suddenly, my phone rang. I picked it up. “Hello, Sarthak. We are in great trouble, need your help urgently.”

Few hours earlier.

My friend, Manhar’s family were out of station and he was all alone at home. He was just killing time, trying to study for his semester exams. There entered the Bhutani (another of my friend), to accompany Manhar in his loneliness. They spend some time together and then Manhar committed the first mistake of the night. He asked Bhutani to stay at his place for the night. And this was just the beginning of things to follow.

11:00PM

Bhutani felt the need of some food to feed his ever-growing stomach. Manhar’s stomach was also growling. With Bhutani’s bike standing downstairs, they locked the house and moved out. This was apparently their second mistake of the night, but they will realize it only after their return.

01:00AM

After satisfying their appetite, Bhutani and Manhar came back. A big surprise was waiting for them. On the door, they realized that THEY HAVE LOST THE KEY OF THE HOUSE! And without it they can’t enter in the house.

So, there they were standing helplessly outside their house, glaring each other’s face at 1AM in the night, with hearts in their mouth. “Where could the keys have gone???”, they were wondering. But the more important question was, “What to do now?!!”

Frantically, they decided to get back to the road and try to search for the keys. And yes, that was their third mistake of the night. Searching for a small key on a road was never a wise decision, but they didn’t realize it could be that worse.

At a speed of around 10km, thrice they went to and fro on the 4km stretch hoping for their luck to shine but that wasn’t going to be the case that night.  In-fact, in the middle of their third try, BIKE’s GEAR CHAIN BROKE OFF.

Now not only they were without shelter, but without transport also. Plus they had to carry the bike also. Luckily, Manhar and Bhutani had their communication devices!

2:30AM

I had just gone for sleep. Suddenly, my phone rang. I picked it up. “Hello, Sarthak. We are in great trouble, need your help urgently.” I got a bit worried. But then they explained me everything and I, being their true friend, would have loved to see them spending night on footpath, but then the class 3rd quote of ‘A friend in need is a friend in deed’ struck my mind and I invited them to my place.

I woke up and informed my mother and made arrangements for their stay.

3:00AM

Pushing their bikes for about a km, they reached my place at around 3am. Manhar and Bhutani were visibly startle of what has happened with them. The thought of lost keys, stranded bike and, most importantly, of their parents reaction were still giving them jitters. But for the next half an hour or so, the three of us were only LAUGHING!

At around 3:30AM we three went to sleep and the tragic night ends.

The upcoming morning

While I was still sleeping, Manhar and Bhutani woke up and left my home at around 7AM. They tried to find out any locksmith but none was available so early in the market. They went to the market for breakfast, but shops were still closed. So they randomly decided to enter the jogger’s park and complete the 1km lap (I am glad they still had so much energy left with them). After completing the lap, they laid themselves on the grass for next half an hour.

After which they moved on and took the number of a locksmith and called him. He promised to reach the house in 15mins, but after repeated calls reached there in 1.5hrs. The neighbors offered them some lunch and in the meanwhile the locksmith completed his work. They could enter their home once again!

After the night, Manhar has decided not to repeat the mistakes again and to keep a distance from Bhutani. While Bhutani, he is still busy in getting his bike repaired!

Also read: One day @ Examination Centre

(@My friends: You keep on doing such incidents and I will keep writing blog on them.)

Do comment. Thanks.

One day @ Examination Centre

My friend Mohit narrated this incident on the condition that I should write a blog on this. So here I am accomplishing my promise.

What will you do if the only way to pass an exam is to cheat? And what if you are caught cheating? If every teacher wants that students should score high in exams, then why don’t they allow cheating?

Raising such and other critical issues of a student life, based on the real life incident of my friend Mohit Aggarwal, is this blog.

Freshly out from the peaceful and study-oriented school life into the chaotic and fun-filled college life, is Mohit Aggarwal. The time he entered the college, he faced lots of challenge. He was burdened with the responsibility of a car which he had to drive daily between college and home. Unfortunately, he also got a large bunch of friends. With car and friends, “bunk” was inevitable. On top of this, the demons(read: teachers) didn’t allow him to study in classes and he was often thrown out of the class. Mohit faltered to these troubles and his attendance went as low as 20%. But he continued his fight.

In such a non-conducive environment for studies, clearing the semester exams was next to impossible. But Mohit was a dedicated and hardworking student. Inspired by his friend Akhil, he decided to opt for “helping notes” (generally referred as ‘farre’). The cruel college never wanted its students to score high and thus, helping notes were not allowed. Still, Mohit was focussed to score high marks.

On the D-day, Mohit’s pocket were filled with helping notes. But the eyes of examiner were not allowing him to use them. Though Mohit was getting passing marks, he was determined to top the class. So, he opted for washroom to read the helping notes.

A security guard entered the washroom. A student is so serious about his career that he is studying even in washroom and the guard thought Mohit was cheating! Wat a shame!

Mohit then showed his kindness, and offered all the money in his wallet to the poor guard (In short, bribed him!). But guard was cold-blooded and he refused. He asked Mohit to move out of washroom, while Mohit wanted to continue his study.

Guard tried to push Mohit and Mohit’s hand banged the granite separator (between two washroom sinks). The granite came crashing out on the floors, creating a loud THUD!! The noise reached the demons house (staffroom) and soon the washroom was filled with them, including HoD (Head of Demons).

HoD listen to the story and was so impressed with Mohit’s dedication that he made him write everything (helping notes, lending money, fall of granite) on a piece of paper and also took his autograph on that paper (*confession letter*). He also called Mohit’s parents to felicitate them for their son’s bravery.

Mohit was sent back home without the need of completing the exam.

At home Mohit was too modest to tell about his achievements to anyone. Neither he wanted to waste his parents time for his college work. So he made arrangements for a mother from outside.

In the next exam, as usual, Mohit was engaged in his books and thus, forgot to carry his admission card. Mohit lended his car’s key to his friend, Akhil and asked him to bring the admission card. Meanwhile he thought about meeting the HoD to thank him for that day. But unluckily (luckily!), HoD had gone for15 days holiday. This meant no felicitations for parents and no fake mother! (Poor Mohit!)

Mohit was again busy in studies, he received a call from Akhil, “Mohit your car has met an accident!”

His friend Akhil, just like him, was occupied in books while driving and didn’t see the bus and the front part of car into it.

On one side was the car, on other side exam. Should he take care of his car and skip the exam?

One person and so many responsibilities!! But at that moment, Mohit showed his real mettle. He gave a damn to his car because for him nothing is more important than studies. He again signed the autograph for not bringing admit card and gave his exam- this time without any helping notes!

As the exam ended, he rushed to his car. Showing the true color of friendship, instead of blaming Akhil, he told his father that it was all fault of the bus driver.

The car damages costed Rs.65000. In the same week, Mohit also broke his bluetooth and lost his credit card. But for him, the real damage were that 2 minutes that he wasted deciding between the car and the exam. He could have read a page in those 2 minutes!!

Today, a month has passed to this tragic incident. The insurance company has compensated the car damages. Mohit got 7 marks in first exam and managed to clear the second one. The HoD never called him again (how thankless!). On top of all, his parents still have no clue about their child’s achievements (how proud they will be on knowing all this!!).

Even after so many troubles (caught cheating, false attempt to bribe, breaking granite wall, fake mother and the car accident),  like most Indian movies, in the end AAL IZZ WELL prevailed! :)

I am proud to have such a dedicated and studious friend like Mohit. :P

With the hope that every student will take inspiration from Mohit and devote their entire life to studies, I submit my post.

THE END

P.S.: If you are Mohit’s sister, don’t believe on anything I have written.