01st March 2016

Finally in the que for the Darshan. I am still not sure what the procedure is. I just followed everyone else. The line moved quickly. It was never ending actually, pretty long. Not as much crowd as I expected. Didn't have to be crushed and trampled in the crowds. At the end of the que was a checking point. Through a scanner then a full body check with a security person, of course men and women separately. Then all electronic devices had to be kept with security. Cameras, phones everything. They issue a ticket with details of the electronic devices you hand over. Non of those are allowed inside. Any hope of taking pictures inside 'out the window'. So I can't post any images in this blog of what happened inside. I was worried about leaving my phone there. What if it gets lost. And where would I get it back, how? They told me that I can collect it at the place we entered. By this moment I noticed that I had left my shoes too further and too soon. There is a place here to leave footwear. I should have left it here. Now I am worried about my newly bought shoes. It has been only 24 hours since I've bought them, would I lose them now? It's not a matter of having to buy a new pair of shoes, but I will be shoe-less until I get back to the Tirupati town or a shoe shop! My worry is because, just as I left my shoes there, any other person could just walk in and take any pair of shoes belonging to anyone and walk off. Hmmm...

On top of possibly being barefoot until I go back to Tirupati, I didn't want to be phone-less too. But I had no choice. My strength of faith towards this God, had to grow. I was continuously thinking to myself, "I am on a good trip, nothing bad can happen""I am at the place of God, things can't get lost""God will protect me, I am not doing anything wrong""If this God is real, then nothing will get lost".Many similar thoughts circulating around my head. It has been only 2 days since I've landed in India,so, it hasn't earned my trust or faith yet. As I was shown that I had no power over my own belongings here, everything was in God's hands ... literally!

After the security checks, people were directed into a room. It wasn't fully covered. The brick walls were build only halfway and the rest was iron grills. So that inside can see outside. There was a lot of crowd, just not as much as I expected. The room had only steps. Like a huge hall with steps and no chars or tables or any furniture. That was the end of the que. There was no place to go from there. Of course there was a corridor to go, but it was closed,locked. Only the gate that people entered was open and people came in. This was confusing. Now what? People were absolutely comfortable and was seated on the ground. There was a huge TV hung on the wall and everyone was leisurely watching it. This was very odd. Are we not getting to see the God? Are we not going to the temple? What is happening here?

There was a counter which looked like a ticket counter. It said 20INR for 2 laddu. What is this? I asked a person and she said that we have to buy a ticket for 2 laddus to take into the Kovil. "Is it to offer the God as puja?""No, its for you to take home". Hmmm, I don't understand this. By the time I go home it would be a month from now, so why would I need to keep 2 laddus till then? "What if I don't want to take 2 laddus?""Then you can't go in". Do I have to buy laddus to go in? I am sure I am not getting proper information. I looked around to ask this from someone who seemed knowledgeable enough to tell me. I asked a man about this laddu issue. He tried to answer but I was still not clear about this. An elderly man next to him jumped into our conversation and said that, you buy 2 laddus, make a wish when you go to the God and take it back home to keep the laddus where you have placed Gods in your home"What if I don't want to take laddus? can I still go to see the Darshan without laddu?". he said I could. It was not for the God's offering so I could do whatever,its ok.

Ok then, I will not buy the laddus. A long que was gathered up even before the counter was open and I jumped in not knowing what was happening. In India, always make sure you jump into a que as soon as possible to get ahead in line before you find out what it is about actually. Then only I asked the people in the que what the laddu ticket is about. Here, you will only get a ticket and at the end of the Darshan you will get laddus according to the ticket you have at the exit. Laddus to take home. There are 2 choices, 20INR for 2 laddus, 40INR for 4 laddus. One person can buy only one ticket which ever you please and your face is scanned when you buy. To this date I can't figure out why the face is scanned. I got into the que thinking that que would go to the Darshan. When I found out it was only to buy laddu I quickly jumped out of it and then wondered if I did something stupid. That is why I asked another person what the que and the laddu was about. After finding out I was a little relaxed.

The elderly person who jumped in was more fluent in his English, so I asked him what are we supposed to do now, when is the Darshan. He said the Darshan is only after 9am. Now it is about 5.30 am or something. So until past 9am we have to sit here and wait. Then only would the gates in front will be open. It's a long wait, doing nothing but waiting. After 9am doesn't necessarily mean AT 9 am. So it could be any time. Sigh...okaaay...So we wait. But what am I to do without even a phone? If I had the phone I could at least instagram about this, "waiting till the Darshan starts - Tirupati, Andra Pradesh". All there was, was the giant screen in front showing pujas done inside the Kovil and bajan.

The crowds just found places to sit on the steps and watched the giant screen. Everyone had come with family or friends.So there was a big noise, people chatting and laughter. Indians are never a quiet group so just imagine at least a hundred grouped up in a room. I seemed to be the only one alone. At least another 3 hours to go.

Sat on the steps, staring at the screen...

Original Post on www.thesathiworld.wordpress.com

Published by SaThi