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21

 

which were meant only for sheets, blankets, a pillow and a mosquito net, got filled at the last minute with extra shoes and sundry other articles, not excluding books or plates. These bedding rolls the mandali had to hoist early in the morning on top of the bus by the aid of perhaps only one hurricane lamp and a hand torch. One rarely found more than a few beds at a dak bungalow, meant for only 3 or 4 persons; and when Baba's party arrived (a party of over 20), the accommodations were cramped, to say the least, and many slept on their bedding rolls. It was the mornings that were difficult. We usually were in bed at night before dark, but the mornings—O dear! Baba would say, "You must be packed and seated in the bus by 5:30 a.m., ready to start." Breakfast had to be cooked, eaten and cleared, mosquito nets taken down and bedding rolled up and the bus packed, all in semi-darkness. No wonder an unfortunate incident occurred. One of Baba's suitcases was almost lost, although we always wanted to take special care of his belongings. It turned up eventually under the bus. Baba used this incident to emphasize the need to guard against carelessness in our travels hereafter. And we did travel a great deal on this trip by bus (and boat) with Baba to Ceylon in the south, Calcutta in the east, Multan and Quetta in the north and Gujerat and Goa in the west—practically over two-thirds of India, which at this period had not yet been partitioned from Pakistan.

 

Motoring in India can never be considered a pleasure, especially by bus on bumpy bullock-cart roads. Every time the bus jolted forward, one received either a jerk in the neck or an avalanche from the luggage racks falling on one's head. A mere nothing of course, if one were not hungry, squeezed in or overcome with the midday heat. Baba, from the front seat, being quite aware of what was going on behind, often added fuel to the fire by drawing attention to our rising tensions.

 

Because of the daily strain of loading and unloading beddings, Baba finally issued the order that no bedding would be taken down from the top of the bus before the final stop, say after two or three days' travel. Each must take a blanket, sheet and mosquito net in a bundle and these bundles placed in the aisle—bumpy seats for those who sat on them! As added discipline we found ourselves sleeping on hard floors with but a blanket un­derneath, and for a pillow, a rolled-up coat or towel.

 

The night before a journey, Baba would call us all together, fix the hour of departure around 6, adding, "K., be ready with breakfast at 4; R., have

 

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