Towards sunset as I left my friend’s house a glorious evening was prefigured by the rich golden glow that never fails to blow my mind and sure enough, even before reaching home the golden glow made way for thicky soupy rain and Raja rang me to join the whole family in the Trusty Ambassador – all pulsating in the back seat with big boxes of buns, one on my lap – off we go around the hill for Sadhu-dessert . . . Yes yes, but first we visit our favourite sacred spot: Vediyappan’s shrine by the spunky tree not far from Iyarkai . . . Raja’s family-favourite and mine too. Hop in!
His Lordship’s horses and watchmen are waiting in case He needs to make a quick getaway . . . .
Chitra, Raja and the children begin their adorations on tip-toe with much decorum but very soon enthusiasm gets the better of testosterone-in-training and things become very lively, just what Vediyappan and his horses love . . .
while the spunky tree waits quiet though the wind will not let it . . .
. . . and Shivani calmly executes prescribed movements while the irrepressible little boy hops from God to god like a wallaby so she bundles him up squirming while parents endeavour to maintain the traditional reserve and dignified behaviour befitting even the God of Wilderness indeed.
Chitra carries both the box and the boy who is so eager to hand out desert he dives into the box on the way . . . . Shivani seems to have disappeared . . . It all happens very suddenly while Raja guns up the car . . .
They could use the empty box too, they said. (I guess at least it was dry!) It seems they enjoy their sweet buns for desert. We stopped another few times down sadhu drag where sleepy sadhus emerged from individual bundles of plastic – they somehow sense we’ve buns on board. Then we arrived at Nerudi; there’s a good dry space for sleeping sadhus here:
But I began to feel too intrusive with my camera here . . . When we came to the Mandapam next to the Hanuman temple I stayed in the car . . that was as far as I could go, I will have to see how it feels next time . . . if there is a next time, right now it looks like we’ll soon have to start swimming, all the buns will be irretrievably soggy.
From the dry vantage of the car it seemed to me a miracle that sadhus maintain such order in their lives, such basic human dignity. These men live out in the open except for rainy nights like these, they keep their minimal possessions in good order, their personal maintenance is superb under their circumstances, and at night when it’s thundering and lightening they manage to maintain dignified dormitory conditions and civility amongst themselves. It is an exceedingly challenging lifestyle. They don’t waste, damage or interfere with anything. In some significant way it does seem to me that these men are truly a credit to our species superior to the corporate male primates in suits in skyscrapers all over the urban world.