Venky Needs Some Space…

Friday, April 01, 2016

“Papa – why is everybody pushing each other here? Why can’t they simply walk one after the other and everybody gets to see the Bhagwan (Lord Venkateswara)…”

Kavya… my daughter and the youngest of the 6-member entourage – my parents, my only wife, my son, my daughter and I… had entered the Sanctum Sanctorum at Tirumala, the abode of the Lord… had asked herself loud… amidst and above the din of “Govinda Govinda”… chanted with hysterical fierceness by half a million voices around us…

Actually… a 50,000 of those voices in front of me – in a space that was hardly 100 metres between the idol of the Lord and I… and the rest of the half a million was snaking itself through the endless, serpentine, multi-filed queues that were behind me… next to me on my left and right… some above and below me… some hovering and sortieing in unimaginable space out there… in nowhere…

Tirumala… atop the 7 hills above the quaint old town called Tirupati in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh… has now grown into a bustling city… with all visible symptoms and symbols that signify a commercialised pilgrimage… where basic conveniences come at a cost… where human life is noticeably a level below the Lord… and where the Lord means Business at every stage of the journey…

Like any of the busiest airports in the world… where flights coming in from different parts of the world converge… into that one runway when all others are suddenly shut down for repair… and there is an unanticipated scramble on the tarmac, the taxiway and the runway…

Except… this busiest airport for pilgrimage in the world continues to have a single, broken runway for years now… where basic tenets of a concept called Space, symbolise the way the larger Indian Humanity… succumbs everyday at the most opportune moment to be human…

After all… it was ordained by the Lord to be this way…

——————–

“Sir – we have a new project coming up in Kharghar (Navi Mumbai)… with all the modern luxury amenities… yet styled to reflect how Caesar and Cleopatra used to live (till Brutus did them part)… and how the Greeks and more importantly Alexander lived… and a few other Roman and Victorian kings and queens lived… Coliseum sized gymnasium… Olympic sized swimming pool… Spartan war-field sized podium garden… a Nile shaped water body running through the 8 acre complex… 6 residential towers of 30 floors each… each tower named after the kings and queens… the ambience of the entire 8 acres will symbolise a lifestyle of a king like you… Sir…”

Solanki… my realtor friend for many years… who keeps calling me now and then… specifically in February, just to test whether I got my bonus and that increment… which he believes I would pump into real estate investment… had called me 3 weeks ago…

“And Sir… the best part… we will have a spacious Ganesh Mandir right in the middle of the complex… Smita Madam will be very happy…” he added my wife’s name… for all that he thought about an inclusion that ordinarily brings Godly austerity in my life…

I thought of all the Victorian and the Roman and the Spartan kings and queens… their soldiers and their wives… the harems and the concubines… and their lavish lifestyles all packed in an 8 Acre complex that Solanki was building (sorry developing)… and with the Ganesh Mandir added with a good intent…

For the East must meet West… and Time must meet Space…

I was curious… I put the Lord’s (Ganesh) comfort before mine…

“How spacious is the Ganesh Mandir, Solanki…?”

“Sir… very big… 2,000 square feet…” Solanki said in all earnestness and respect for the Elephant God… I am sure he would have stood up from where he was sitting in all his reverence for Him…

“And how spacious are the flats…?” I wanted to check for some human comfort now…

“Sir… we have options… 1RK (Room Kitchen)… 1-2-3BHK apartments; and 3.5BHK Penthouses…”

Solanki clearly steered around the word “flats” and called them “apartments”… when I had first met him a few years ago, he had asked me what my Room Number was… that’s what they call apartments here in Mumbai… Rooms…

I pressed for the apartment sizes… knowing very well that if the Lord’s agents have allotted Him 2,000 sq.ft. for his elephantine proportions… I would not get more than anything that Alexander’s concubines would have got… neither in reverence for their beauty… nor for mercy for serving his carnal interests in between his conquests for world space…

Solanki told me… the most lavish space in town… the 12’ by 10’ Master Bedroom in the Penthouse was the most attractive proposition for me… at least this would ensure I do not wake up with my feet on the window sill… in the Top Deck… and drop into the Olympic sized swimming pool down below if a pigeon were to drag me down from the window… feet first…

I don’t know about Solanki… but Alexander occupied only 6’ by 2’ feet when he went away from the world… so my guess is, his chamber in the Alexander tower will not require much space either…

——————–

Macrocosmically, no wonder then… Venky did not demand much space for Himself at Tirumala… nor did his agents give him much either… neither to him… nor to the millions of devotees that throng Him every day…

And no wonder this time then… last weekend when Kavya and I went visiting Him… the agents had moved Venky back, away by another 100 ft. from the nearest human touch or sight… on the previous occasions a few years ago, He was 10 ft. away from me…

“But that’s what will happen na, Papa… the way people are pushing each other… no surprise they will fall on to the Lord too and push Him as well one of these days… so, it’s good the agents have moved Him to safety…”  

Space… the primal posterior… at least by the way Kavya and I were pushed and punched on our backs and backsides… 

As time passes by… a sea of Humanity floods the Lord’s Tirumala every day… in and out… for a glimpse that lasts 10 seconds… of the Lord of faith… of belief… of hope…

Except… Kavya thought it was a sea of Inhumanity…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Venkat Kodukula

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