I must have been all of 10 or 12 when my parents first took me to Haridwar and Rishikesh. It was a peculiar trip for us and a bit out of the ordinary because as a family we weren’t ritualistic or religious enough to want to wash our sins away in the Ganga.
We were not a family that took pilgrimages and Haridwar is hardly the kind of town that children feel drawn to. Be that as it may we found ourselves being driven along the congested, squalid streets of Haridwar, where bovine creatures and pilgrims jostled for space along with limbless beggars, assorted peddlers and mountain heaps of garbage. On yet another trip during the Kumbh, we found ourselves being saved from getting crushed in a stampede, the news of which made it to the front page of most dailies (the news of the stampede, not of us being saved, we weren’t a famous family.)