After strolling around the Ganga Ghats and living in the tents of Sector 14, we decided to venture back to the city of Allahabad so that we could get our clothes washed and then continue with our excursions and interviews of eminent sages. We hired a room in a cheap hotel for Rs 1500. These are the type of hotels common folks are using to stay in as they head towards the main camp area of the Kumbh. I was tired and worn out as we had walked more than 50 km taking photos and filming the Kumbh. I had a quick shower and collapsed on the bed. My friend Tiwari Ji ventured out for a while. How was I to know that he would get lost the whole day and not return even at night?
Now I was getting worried. I walked out to have an omelette and bun. It became 10 pm. I still could not see Tiwari anywhere. I called him up but no response. It had started raining also. What was I to do? So I ventured back into my hotel, which was very modest.
Every small and big hotel is full up in the city as the city is jam-packed with visitors. There are people who have been given beddings and are sleeping on railway platforms and bus shelters as the city lacks space to accommodate pilgrims of this size. Due to the Shahi Snaan starting on the 4th of February, the rate at which pilgrims are coming into the city has increased. One can see how a figure of 15 crores has been touted as the total number of pilgrims who are to arrive at the Kumbh 2019.
I crashed out and only got up at 9 am in the morning to realise that my friend Tiwari had still not reached. I was sure he had lost his way. After all, Allahabad shuts down by 8 pm at night and then with all the shops closed, it gets even more difficult to find one’s way especially in locating dingy hotels like ours.
By noon, Tiwari arrived on a small scooter. He had lost his way and had forgotten the name and location of the hotel. All night, he was trying to find his way and finally gave up. He slept in some shack on the footpath all night only to find his bearings in the morning.
So let that be a lesson to you all. People coming here and staying in small local hotels, kindly keep a card and a local phone number of the hotel. Give it to the children so that if they are lost, they can find their way back to their hotel rooms. I, myself, have got lost like this in Vietnam, but from now on, I carry the card of every hotel I check into. In Vietnam, I was in bigger trouble as there was a language issue also as no one could understand what I was trying to find in the first place.