“Then Jhaveri Bai looks up at the heavens, and contemplating the vast ocean which is Mother Ganga, she the daughter of the Mountains, who carried so much burden of this heavy, heavy earth – Jhaveri Bai steps one leg into the water.”
Ganga, Ganga-ji, Gangamaiyya, Gangama, Gangadevi, Ganges.
My first memory of Ganga is of chetan spitting it out. Mom had a bottle of ganga-jal from Calcutta, kept in the fridge. One day my brother came home from college, tired and thirsty, and took a good swig from the first bottle that came in his hands. Splaaatt! Phuutoooo! And that was that. I was told it tasted yuck, and that impression of the Ganga remained with me.
But I had underestimated her. Driving on the 5.7 -km long, Mahatma Gandhi Setu connecting Patna and Vaishali, she appeared gloriously majestic, all-embracing, wide, curvaceous, and extending as far as the eye could see. How could a river be so wide? so huge? And those boats? How tiny they looked as the waters gently flowed all around them…. And it really and truly hit me. This was not just a river. It’s the Ganga.
I caught her again at Bhagalpur. I was told that one could spot Dolphins in her, though i could manage only a few ducks. But the river was beautiful. Inspite of all the assaults she faced at every inch from Gangotri, down to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Benaras, Allahabad, Patna…and would face till she merged with the Bay of Bengal…she was still beautiful. She was still fresh.
That day, I promised myself that i would take a trip tracing her from Gangotri across the land. Perhaps one day, I shall.
p.s I got into reminiscing about Ganga courtesy K. K’s googletalk image today is ‘ footprint at Rishikesh’