I got bit by a travel bug when I was very young. Since then, I have made it my mission to see all the wonders the world has to offer. I have climbed up mountains and gazed at the clear blue sky. I have traveled deep into the jungle and glimpsed the hidden wildlife. Each trip has deepened my passion, brought new adventures, and created wonderful memories.
One unforgettable journey took place in 2006. We had organized a trip to the jungle for school students. The trip was fantastic, the students really enjoyed themselves but on our last day, our junglegetaway turned into a jungle adventure.
After an exciting day of sightseeing, we were heading back to the dorms when we realized that one of the jeeps had a puncture and there was no spare. We were in the middle of the jungle, over two hours away from the dorms and there was no way to call for another jeep or a mechanic. The kids began to panic, partly scared and partly excited about spending the night in the jungle. As if, that would ever happen!
It was past 4 pm and the light was quickly fading, so we squeezed all the kids with two coordinators into the jeeps, while five of us armed ourselves with weapons and lights and began our long trek home.
The minute the jeep left, gone were the responsible adults. We felt like teenagers on a forbidden adventure. We kept ourselves entertained by kicking pebbles, chasing dogs, and joking around. We even pulled out a bottle of rum to share. Not smart or safe but definitely exciting.
It got darker, we grew weary, the moon rose, the stars twinkled and we jokingly saluted the moon and requested it to ‘show us the path’ as we continued to trudge along.
Then, a sound broke the silence.
What was that?
Who was it?
Shivers ran down our spines. All sorts of thoughts crossed our minds.
No, that was a growl, someone was cutting something.
In the middle of a jungle? In the middle of the night?
We tried to think. We tried to see. The buzz faded away. We stood in a circle, bags on our back, clutching our weapons and lights, hoping to banish the danger.
The sound came again.
We looked up. We flashed our lights. We saw… an Aghori Baba!
The ‘Aghori Baba’ was cutting a branch above our heads.
Imagine its pitch black, there are five of us yelling at the top of our voices and flashing our lights but we couldn’t get his attention. But it was as if, he was blind and deaf. There was no other path. We had to go straight but we couldn’t move forward safely until he stopped. We kept yelling. We flashed the torches from his face to our faces to alert him of our presence. Luckily, we managed to get his attention before the branch fell.
We were safe!
Exciting, nerve-wracking, and surprisingly not over!
If the sight of an Aghori Baba cutting a tree in the jungle, in the middle of the night wasn’t strange enough, our night got stranger. He slipped down the tree like a monkey and fell to our feet, claiming that he had spent the last eleven years waiting for us. He told us that a flood had destroyed his village and he was left alone and homeless. He wandered aimlessly for a while until a ‘Baba’ advised him to do tapasya in this jungle until he met five lost pandaavs. By guiding the lost pandaavs home, he could end his struggles.
We looked at him in bewilderment, he was crazy but since it was dark, we were exhausted and he seemed relatively harmless, we took the aid offered. We spend the night at his hut, took the offered map, and surprisingly, we reached the dorm safely.
Strange, scary but memorable!
Two years later, we headed back to the same jungle. Our curiosity got the best of us and we went back to the same spot to see if the Aghori Baba was still there or if that had been a very strange dream. He wasn’t but another ‘Aghori Baba’ had taken his spot.
So, I guess his tapasaya was over.
When you travel you meet unusual people, add excitement to your life and create unforgettable memories. This journey was strange, even scary at times but I do not regret even a moment.
So, pack a bag and head out for an adventure, you will not regret it!
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