Amritsar Update

Got back last night after a short 2-day trip to Amritsar. It was an interesting trip, I must say. Got a lot of fodder for blog posts, but unfortunately I seem to have forgotten most of it, and hence this short summary post. I seriously need to buy a dictaphone with speech-to-text capability. I would observe stuff, and quickly construct a blog post in my head. Unfortunately, I can’t write or type on phone as fast as i can think (i can type on comp at the speed of thought which is why i can blog decenly) so all that construction seems to have gone waste.

If at any point of time, I can remember what I was planning to write, I’ll write. Else unfortunately such great thoughts and essays will be lost to humanity. I still kinda remember what i want to write ABOUT – problem is I’ve forgotten the contents of the essay. So I want to write a commentary on the end-of-day proceedings at the wagah border. I want to write about this awesome temple in Amritsar, which among other things features a carving of a cow’s udders, and directly underneath are statues of a snake and a lingam.

I want to write about the magnificent gore of the Sikh museum, and of the magnificent letdown that was the Maharaja Ranjit Singh museum. I want to write about the assembly lines that operate in the langar at the Golden Temple, about the transportation infrastructure in amritsar, about how the Punjoos in Amritsar are very unlike Punjoos elsewhere.

Tangentially, I need to write about the damage to children’s learning of history caused by Hindi textbooks (I was thinking about this when looking at the gore in the Sikh museum). About the magnificent street food of Amritsar. Ok now Ive forgotten the other topics also. This is like ideas literally slipping away from your fingers before you document them.

Traveled both ways on the Swarna Shatabdi. Return trip cost 75 bucks more than onward trip. Don’t know why – maybe it’s because they served dinner. Stayed at Hotel CJ International which is 100m away from the Golden Temple. First time I used Lonely Planet to find a restaurant and it was a bloody good recommendation. Read half of Nilekani’s Imagining India during the trip. Need to blog about that too.


Today is Shivarathri. It is a holiday for the National Stock Exchange, which has made it an optional holiday for us (there are 10 such days of which we can choose 3). And I’ve chosen to exercise this option today. Sitting at home and battling internal demons. And saying goodbye to winter.

My mother says that the fact that it has become considerably hotter today points to the greatness of God. “It is ordained that on the day of Shivarathri, winter will cry ‘shiva shiva’ and run away, and that it has suddenly become hot today is an indication that God still makes nature obey ‘the laws’ “.

I agree with her argument but not with her conclusion. I say that the fact that winter seems to be on its way out today, on the day of Shivarathri, points to the greatness of the people who made our calendar. That they managed to study the stars accurately, and came up with a sustainable forecast regarding the closing date for winter that is valid even thousands of years hence is a good indication of how brilliant they were.

Like that coffee bite argument used to say, the argument continues.

Today being Shivarathri also means that it should be a night dedicated to the lingam – the most commonly worshipped form of Shiva. I wonder how many people are currently looking at their hands and thinking of a form of Vishnu that is worshipped in Puri.

This morning, my neighbour went to a nearby Shiva temple, to take part in something like “linga abhishekam”. She took along a mixture of milk, ganga jal (water from the Ganga; not H2SO4 of Bhagalpur) and sugar to do the pooja. Later on, my mother was on the phone with her sister, and after a long philosophical discussion they concluded that women doing the “linga abhishekam” is not part of South Indian Brahmin culture.