Thursday, July 07, 2005

Edu Kondalu Vada, GOVINDA!!*

As we pulled into the beautiful Tirupati foothills, my husband asked “Will you able to walk in those?” I was in my highheeled sandals, chudidaar kurta, bindi and mangalsutra get-up, looking very delicate and bahu-like. I grinned, “Of course not, the DocMartens are in the boot”. His turn to grin. Just the image of me in DocMartens and a dupatta did it. “I don’t care how I look, it’s 3590 steps! Spaced out!” “Sure. I brought the camera” he said.

So we were setting out to climb the hills to Tirumala, something I’ve done before, minus hubby. So I had to tell him all about it, a hundred times. We were accompanied by the newly-weds and we let a younger college-going kid tag along, hoping we could strand him with the water-bottles and stuff. We set off promising to catch the rest of the party in 4 hours or so...after they had driven up in AC-ed comfort, showered, dined, burped, yawned and snapped their fingers, they would drive to the arches at the top of the hill where they could find us in a sweaty, collapsing, grumpy heap.

It happened much like we planned, though we did make it in 3 hours, the walk drew our attention to just how out-of-shape we were. The first hour was the most grueling and surprisingly the college-going kid was the worst off. The oodles of puppy-fat still on his cheeks glowed red and we thought he might have to be air-lifted off the hills. But he made it after much grunting, swearing and the uttering of many ungodly words under his breath. The hubby and the newly-wed boy discussed electronics and gadgets. The newly-wed girl had "bedroom" questions and I spared very little in fear of embarrassment while imparting gyan of all orders. I think, as a bunch, we broke a whole lot of rules while making our way to Govinda, but I’m sure He understands, He made us this way and we are pure of heart, He must know that.

Climbing up, commercialization hits you between the eyes every 30 steps or so. There are cafés with movie videos running non-stop almost everywhere. You can choose a Tamil, Telugu or Hindi café and watch Prabhu-Deva, Nagarjuna, or Abhishek, depending on your group, mood or inclination. The navels and heaving bosoms though looked very similar in all the movies, so I guess the Trishas and Shilpas act in ‘em all. Our little group would have had to split up into different cafés if we chose to really watch something. But we thought better than to lose complete focus and trudged past these diversions stolidly. The “neembu-soda” we did stop for was divine and we guzzled it down only to regret it when we resumed walking. “Travel light” was our motto henceforth and we saved the eating and drinking for later.

Despite the “Kalyanam” puja we all did, the actual darshan lasted precisely 1.5 seconds before I felt a female usher give me a hard shove and push me ahead. Last time around, they did not have them female shovers, so I could hang around taking sloooow steps till a male who had been shoved, shoved me by reflex and I moved away. So they’ve smartened up. But, with a high of 100,000 visitors per day (averaging about 30,000 per day), they are left with few choices, I know. It’s OK for us and more so for the affluent to make this trip and drop thousands of rupees in the Hundi**, if they want to. Do it, it ain't a bad practice. But when I hear about this poor man who can barely make ends meet, using up all his life’s savings and trudging here with his family, standing in that free-darshan queue for 30 hours and then dropping his remaining savings in the Hundi, I can’t help but think “Come on Govinda, wouldn’t you have wanted him to put that money to better use?”

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. ~Mahatma Gandhi

* A cry often uttered while pilgrims make their way to see the Tirumala-Tirupati diety of Balaji or Lord Venkateswara. It means "Oh One of the Seven Hills, Govinda!". Govinda being yet another name for the same God.

** Offerings made in the name of God. It's the main source of income for this temple, donations last year were in the region of Rs.800 crores which is $186 million!!


Anonymous alpha said...

great to see you back...nice posts. Talking about weddings and Thirupati... Did you know Mr.Balaji of the Govinda fame is still paying his wedding debts and that poor man is just helping him?

Man, wish some one would start a temple for me to pay my credit card debts.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bedroom questions! sex education on the way to the Devasthanams! LOOOOLLL!!! Gabby you are the limit!


9:34 AM  
Anonymous Ashok said...

Amazing poem. Though I don't obviously get the whole picture, the dialogue about God being elsewhere was very well done.

I came back expecting something on the food at the wedding but I will take this any day.

9:58 AM  
Blogger VC said...

Edu Kondalu Vada, GOVINDA! Goes well with Edu Kondalu Chutney & Edu Kondalu Sambar!!!! :-)
Sorry, couldn't resist. Welcome back.
From your titles - 'Bujji' (took the liberty of pronouncing the 'u' like in But, not Put), Vada etc. you are trying to let us know of the food you ate there....

10:24 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Alpha - Mr.Balaji's father-in-law deserves the money...Mr.B himself is doing quite well...Check out

You could go the Khushbo way. She had a temple on her name too. All you had to do is some dhak-dhak scenes in a few hit isn't too late to start now, but I wouldn't stall...

Shobha - All a part of life I say. At least I was helping sombody and not looting somebody....a man had his sunglasses stolen on the way up. Apparently he paused to eat a salted mango and as he had got his glasses all sticky, he washed them and put them beside him while resting. And voila! No glasses half a minute later!

Ashok - Thanks man. Your comment means a lot to me. And according to vc, you are still getting to know about the food.

vc - maaaan! see why I turned the comments off on that one? Ok, the vada piece is funny. In fact I looked to see if it's pronounced as Wada or Vada but couldn't find any reliable info, so settled for vada...please don't talk of sambhar and chutney! Overdosed on the stuff. Planning to steer clear of 'em both for the next few weeks! :)

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Wow! now tirupati temple has a website!! Good to see you back Gabby. Shaadi Mubarak and all that :-)

11:05 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

zoheb bhai - thanks and all that :) you're 3 years late but that's ok. kya haal hai? solving those NP completes in Poly time? :)

11:29 AM  
Blogger Peg said...

Soooooooooo Good to see you back!! Glad you made the trip and back in one piece!!
"Passing the hat" was never one of my more sacred thoughts when entering any sacred "shrine" I suppose every dog must have his day, so to speak.

all my love, confusion, and lack of what is tactful ,

11:45 AM  
Anonymous alpha said...

For dhak dhak scenes, I need jiggly body mass that I lack. You could start by donating some.

12:23 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

my dear - dhak-dhak had more back than're forgetting your movie fundaes, time to go get a culture recharge i say...

Hmmm...& where from does said mean-streak surface? :)

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Currently, very bad haal hai. Lots of work and very little time. Actually, I am trying to solve NP-Complete problems in constant time now :-) Polytime was too easy :-)

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

alpha, gabby - I want to be around for the dhak-dhak donation ceremony. Please make it happen soon.

12:35 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

zoheb - Where were you when I was in grad school and in dire need of geniuses like you to help with my assignments? I would sometimes write "Impossible" as my answer to questions...and the Prof would write back "Says who?"!!!

12:41 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: Tsk Tsk Tsk... Education should be imparted to one and all without any discrimination of any sort! And to think the gal's mom probably made her talk to you cos of you being Amru returned and all. You have failed one young naive woman!
And did you see Govinda dance as well? That would have been really funny, to see Govinda dance to "Mein to rasthe se jaa raha tha" while you are on the rastha to see Govinda!

1:19 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anti - There was NO discrimation, I swear! Ask me the same questions and I will give you the same answers. You get me wrong, I did not spare much at all. Gave her extras at no extra cost! :) Her hubby will thank me some day. Or maybe he wont.

LOL @ Govinda/rastha joke! You've ever been to see him up there?

1:25 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: oh ya, the day before my XII std results, I walked up to see him! Ummm, and I think he did punish me for minor misdemeanors which included watching the same Telugu movie twice on successive nights when we were there in Tirupathi mainly to write the engineering entrance exams!
But I think it took me much more than the three hours that you say it took you!

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Gabby, when you were in grad school, I was in chaddi baniyaan singing Jack and Jill :-O I am such a child prodigy :-O Learning how to overcome problems posed by professors and life is really simple. Read "7 habits of highly successful ppl" and "Fountainhead" to know how to approach all problems and solve them in constant time :-) Willpower and self-confidence is all that is required - critics and naysayers be damned.

1:35 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: Whoa.. whoa.. Thank you very much I don't need any lessons. I think I'll rely on reference material that list the whole complete syllabus! I have had enough bad experiences with teachers who omit certain hard chapters from the syllabus for whatever reason!

1:37 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

zoheb - I was in grad school some 4 or 5 years ago...are you still in high school? omigod, have i been talking to a school kid? shoo shoo, go away and play with your friends, no need to read all this adult material!!!

or did you just wear chaddi-banyan and sing Jack-n-Jill for a very long time?

1:45 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anti - Aw come on, you had some bad teachers and now you shy from all lessons...???

1:49 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: I just choose my teachers carefully these days :p And from your description, you don't seem to be teacher material! :D

1:53 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Lol !

Didnt know you free-lanced as a sex-ed teacher...interesting ! :)

I hate the 1.5 sec darshans too...face the same problem at The Jagganatha Puri temple back home in Orissa too. And on top of that, we have the infernal pondas whacking our head with sticks, demanding donations, jeez !

2:04 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anti - Whhhhaaaat? I'm not a bad teacher AT ALL! Anybody who can yap for so long will make a half-decent teacher I say! Try me, come on!!

Ash - hey why the full name? Yes baby, me just graduated to Teechha level! :) The fundaes have been a-rolling...! What's this about the whacking with sticks!!!! Omigod, never heard of such a thing!

2:09 PM  
Blogger VC said...

dhak-dhak, Jiggly body mass, "Bedroom" questions, Jack & Jill brand chaddis & baniyans!!
All this in a post about a trip to Tirups. Aiyyo Edu Kondalu Vaadaa Govindaaaaa Gooooovinda : )

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Talking about singing in chaddi banyaan for too long - I take offence. You must be mistaking me for his guy here -
That Peter Pan person is not me and I need to get back to work :-O

2:26 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

vc - Thaats the way it's done! I couldn't get it right :( Edu Kondalu Vaadaa Govindaaaaa Gooooovinda! & Hey no sweat! The good Lord made us all :)

zoheb - Don't ya'll keep them chaddi-banyans on for like ever? They are used as undergarments non? The banyaans are optional I know but I sure hope you've stuck with the chaadis :)

2:39 PM  
Blogger VC said...

Gabby - What do you mean The good Lord made us all. I sincerely hope (for the new-groom's sake) that this is not how you explained the bedroom fundas to the new-bride :D

2:55 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

ROTFL! *holding sides and laughing*

vc, don't worry, I went into more detail than that!! The PG rating of my blog cramps me so at times *grin*...and for the record, it wasn't a basics course, it went into the finer stuff :)

3:03 PM  
Blogger VC said...

So what you are saying is that there is going to be one number happy groom walking around with a reeeeally silly grin somewhere in South India!!!!!!!!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Megha said...

Gabby - What do you mean The good Lord made us all. I sincerely hope (for the new-groom's sake) that this is not how you explained the bedroom fundas to the new-bride :D

VC - I rolled on the floor for a good five minutes holding my sides, after reading that! :D :D That was too tooo much! :) Govinda govinda indeed! *cackling all over again*

3:31 PM  
Blogger VC said...


3:53 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Yes, that was a masterpiece vc. I might go back and read it on a rainy day.

Groom doesn't live in South India...but he has been taken good care of I think :)

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Hmmpff, I do wear chaddi + baniyaan. Such character assasination of a guest on your blog is egregious. Also kindly to ask person who rated your blog as PG to upgradofy to R to allow for wanton violence and nudity. What would a blog be without these.

5:37 PM  
Blogger phatichar said...

Great 'excerpt-from-a-travelogue' kinda post, gabby!! Though I haven't yet been to Tirumala, I and wifey had a similar experience (minus the kalyanam puja & newly wed couple to accompany us) at shravanabelagola, here in Karnataka. The steps are also fewer (around the neighborhood of 1000s I guess)

10:11 PM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

yeah its a good climb... thats what my friends say. I personally have gone to Tirupati but well i got little disillusioned by the process of queueing and the money grabbing there .. SIGH

hahah salwars and DocMartens.. :) but I can understand..

1:30 AM  
Blogger Chugs said...

your darshan lasted 0.5 sec more than mine did. u have a higher Anti-Shoving Threshold (AST).
i forgot the equation for calculating it tho :p

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a riot! Yes Tirupati darshan makes you think -Prayer is supposed to be that hard?

Funny post's cheeks totally pinch-able huh?


3:10 AM  
Blogger Twilight Fairy said...

welcome back! its a shame, the only image 'balaji' gets to my mind now is saasa-bahu vendetta kinda serials :p

5:21 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

zoheb bhai! you called me old, i called you an overgrown baby, now aren't we quits? all in jest, stay cool :). & Ah, my blog's PG rating is debatable indeed but no V & N for me, i like to think my blog is "zara hatke"! so humor me :)

phatichar - thanks! I'll try not to overdose ya'll with the travelogues-type posts...but no promises. Only 1000 steps? *raising snooty nose skywards* (me gets very few chances to show off in the physical fitness area) :)

pallavi - yup, i hope people there weren't thinking i was making some kinda fashion statement...i already have trouble digesting the jeans+bindi look :), can't be subscribing to it! LOL!

chugs - My AST in general is high, I'm one of the stick-in-the-mud stubborn types, so maybe that helped. It helps to be a dodger too I found out. One shorty in the crowd did very well indeed!

Neha - Good question. Makes you wonder about idol worship in general. Isn't He in each and everyone of us?
& pinchable-question - i don't really know. wanna try? i could arrange it!

T Fairy - Hullo! & why is that? sorry, couldn't quite get that :( I'm a bit dim in the mornings.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Akruti said...

Welcome back,so after saying "Edukondalavada,venkataramana, govinda,govinda,u r back:))) and u climbed all the way in 3 hrs:)) phew,wonderful gabby,i am sure i will take one whole day to take my Golgappa body,huffing puffing to reach Balaji and say Hi for 30sec:((

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Gabby, I am cool :-) I like to take offence once in a while though, just for fun :-) Dont take me seriously ever. Also, it seems you dont know, when balaji is not sitting at the top of mountain he is producing tele-serials for Ekta Kapoor going by the name Balaji Telefilms. TFairy gets her balaji darshan from there.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Vuday said...

Hi, wandered in for the FIRST time. Your writings are very varied and all pretty interesting. Makes me wonder, it it the same person writing?

10:17 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Akruti - Peer pressure did it my dear. Din't wanna appear like the America-returned-softie so controlled my fainting till I hit the hotel room bed :)

Zoheb - Ah! So out of the loop! Ekta Kapoor is all over TV man!

vuday - your name reminds me of a self-proclaimed-adonis back in grad-school *chucking to self*. How would you rate your looks on a scale of 1 to 10? (That will tell me all I need to know)

No Vuday, it's not the same person writing. I hire 20 wanna-be-writers, buy them 20 used-laptops and make 'em write on a blog that doesn't even have the omnipresent google ad on the side bar :)

It's me writing all the time Vuday, relax. I do have a severe case of Multiple Personality Disorder though, maybe that's it? :)

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'm not really a mean person. :)

10:41 AM  
Anonymous observer said...

Visiting after a long time. Been churning them out Gratis!

Sex-Ed on the way to Balaji...quite a pilgrimage that must have been.

The poem Bujji was one of your best I think. Why no comments allowed?

11:16 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

observer! Where have you been?! Welcome!

As I told some other visitors, "Bujji" is set very close to my heart, I'm afraid of people seeing it in a light very different from mine, or more lightly than I do. So.

Thanks for the compliment.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous HiredGun said...

Sex-ed on the stairs! Would have been better if you guys were heading towards Khajuraho/Konark temples. You could then do a full show and tell. :) In that light, I am sure you have appeased Kama-deva, if not Venkateshwara. (Good to have Gods for everything).

Thirumala/Tirupati is a fine place, except for the slight squeamishness that I have with the "darshan capitalism" that is fully implemented.

Good posts after your trip back. The poem is a fine one.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous saba said...

me first time here on your blog . cool one !!! hope to see u around .

4:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wlcm Bk. Again a good post wid a good use made of the climb 2 Tirupati.

It makes me wonder Y z thr a restriction for darshan of just 90 Sec for commoners ?

Is the God discriminative ?


11:02 PM  
Blogger KJ said...

welcome back gabby.

u sure did enjoy urself.....

take care

2:10 AM  
Blogger anumita said...

And finally what did you pray for? (Praying is always a little bit of thanking and a little bit of asking for more, isnt it?)

4:53 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Hired Gun - Good to see ya! LOL @ "Good to have Gods for everything"! :) I sure hope I din't make some of them blush *wicked grin*

saba - Welcome! & thanks! Yes, will check yours out too...

HoliDevil - Well what I experienced is that irrespective of how much your darshan costs, the time you spend inside that actual shrine (below the shikara) is as little as the next guys' you don't feel discriminated against, it's more like "What the hell just happened? Oh that was it. Darshan over" :)

kj - Thanks! It was an entertaining trip for me...more stories will follow, hope ya'll find it entertaining too :)

Anumita - Funny though it might sound, I'm not a believer in the strictest sense. Yes I walked up to Tirumala and all that, but I did it for my own reasons. I guess I did think some "thanking" and "hoping" thoughts while there, but I wouldn't know what I actually prayed for.

9:06 AM  
Blogger gvenum said...

>>The newly-wed girl had "bedroom" questions and I spared very little in fear of embarrassment while imparting gyan of all orders.

aahh :) You are only vindicated when you we get to hear from the "happy" couple again:) Welcome back!!

6:46 PM  
Blogger AmitL said...

Hi,Gabby,that's an interesting description of ur visit to Tirupati..And,as in cases of most of our religious places,this one also seems to be totally commercialized. Getting just 1.5 seconds of darshan after so much of effort seems to me to be,well...:???I guess it's more the adventure which counts.Frankly speaking,I'm more for praying to God in front of the mini-temple at home.Anyway...:)

8:13 PM  
Blogger Rash said...

lovely post but the comments are awesome.

8:59 PM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

@ the darshan - do u think sometimes He doesnt like eye contact?? :)

5:03 AM  
Anonymous burf said...

hi gabby

some issues bulleted:-

- welcome back :D
- u shld use google Adsense on your blog, although mr gabby being a big-time s/w engg, i know you dont care abt but it would get u some $s too
- why d u complain so much? first it was winds of change and now Tirupatiji, did u forget that its all imagery that He Himself created and we are just passing our time-segments in it? ;)

but whatever said and done, u do us proud ;) with ur such nice posts...why not approach Harper Collins? :D

bolo tirupati balaji ki jai

gud luck n take care

5:35 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

gvenum - True, true. In fact the couple seem to be too "busy" to email/call nowadays. I hope they are "busy" in a good way...! Just hope it isn't just "trying to get it right" that is keeping 'em :)

amitji - looong time! "It's the adventure that counts." I couldn't agree more! Precisely my approach to life too.

rash - Yes :) my readers as I have often said are a very interesting lot. And by that "interesting" I mean really interesting.

Manu - LOL! Now what did He do? :)

burf - hubby is engineer all right but he isn't into s/w, actually i'm more into s/w than he is. i do a lot of coding though i don't really know if that's my "calling" as has often been discussed on this blog. As for $s, the more the merrier...but i won't be able to complain freely about commerialization and stuff like that if i subscribe to it mahself, non? Or will I? Better look into this!

& thanks, thanks :)...I wish somebody would steer Harper this way, you know, so I don't come across as the pushy type! LOL!

6:16 AM  
Anonymous karan said...

hey..great to see you back! hmm...seems like you had a nice vacation. no shaadi ki mithai for ur blog loyals ? :)
oohh...u the Guru of bedroom lessons ?! are the details of that on ur blogging agenda ?! :) just curious.
and yeah, the poem was super!

11:15 PM  
Blogger KJ said...

All the Darshans whether Shirdi or Siddhivinayak are fully commercialised. not only the darshans but also the festivals like Navratri & Ganpati festival are totally commercialised.

12:18 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

karan - Hey hey! Good to see ya too...arre so much mithai at home, wish there was some way I could FedEx it to Blogspot and ya'll could pick 'em up...confirming anonymity and all....

Me no Guru honey but let's just say she was at a steeper tangent on the learning curve than I was :)

Thanks much for the comment on the poem.

kj - true true...yet people flock to them like bees...!

4:26 AM  
Blogger Twilight Fairy said...

Hey Gratis, since Zoheb has already done the needful, I guess I dont need to explain anymore how 'balaji' now signifies somethign more :p

2:53 AM  
Blogger tilotamma said...

No laddoos?

3:03 PM  
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10:06 PM  

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