The seers and their cars at the Kumbh

In the midst of the riverie and small talk, the naked man with ash all over him, suddenly snaps at me.

“Why do you guys call my car dog’s dinner?” he asks, his pink eyes heavy with the hash he has been smoking all his life. His bulging eyeballs piercing through me intensely. Under normal circumstances, I would fumble and run for my life. But I know him and his antics by now.

“I never called it anything like that. It’s your friends with the light skin, whose dollars you keep craving for, who detest it,” I retorted.

Knowing that he was prone to changing tangents without notice, I promptly showed him the web edition of one of the articles in the UK that had panned his BMW X1 as dog’s dinner. He merely chaffed at it.

“Aap akhbaar walon ko kuch nahin pata. Bas dikhawa hai ki sab jaante hain….” and trailed off. Leaving me to ponder over the authenticity of the statement and the hidden meaning to it.

But he wasn’t done with the car yet. After gazing at it for another 5 minutes, he jets off and walks straight towards the front tyre. No hint of sloppiness or slurriness despite inhaling the noxious fumes for 8 hours straight.

“How big is the size of this brake?” he asks. “How big do you think is the brake of that pathetic vehicle you are driving?” he asks again pointing towards the Hyundai Santa Fe that I had motored in.

“About 300 mm,” I mumbled, a wild guess at best.

“Incorrect. 312 mm to be exact. Maybe I will make a better automotive journalist,” the honourable Bhagat Giri, a naga associated with one of the Niranjani Akharas quipped.

“Perhaps. But you will have to wear clothes at least,” I joked.

It did not end there. Having successfully put me on the defensive he wanted to exert full control. In the next 7 minutes he went on to extrapolate why his X1 was better and “my Santa Fe” was not. It had automatic 2 zone climate control, dynamic stability control, ABS, EBD, automatic stability control, cornering brake control, dynamic brake control, dynamic traction control et al. He knew everything about it. As also about turbochargers, air suspensions and dual clutch transmissions. And he could elucidate it in ways that would make you believe he was a professor in electro mechanics in a research institute and not an ascetic from the upper reaches of the Himalayas.

I never got to know how he knew so much about the car. Maybe he had too much time at hand and had mugged up the entire instruction manual provided with the car. Maybe he was indeed a science student interested in cars before he left the worldly wisdom for a higher spiritual conquest. But he was not the only one to own a luxury vehicle.

Many of the ascetics in the world’s biggest spiritual show at Allahabad could be seen in expensive four wheelers–Fortuners, Endeavours, Xylos, Taveras, Scorpios, Safaris, Sumos, Pajeros…you name it. And the sole Bhagat’s BMW. Even these seers, symbols of renunciation and sacrifice, could not quite resist the temptation of flooring the throttle.

Midway through all this non-sensical blabbering, another naga joins in, handing over fresh supply of dope in a chillum. After Bhagat was done, it was he who provided a fitting riposte in defense of the Santa.

“Dhatt pagal. Tuhar gaadi mein sirf paanchahi aadmi baith pawat hai. Unke mein das baith jaayi. Par tu na samajh paayi e sab…(Idiot. Your car can accommodate only 5 at best. His can fit in 10. But you will never understand this.)

From a different world, but when it comes to cars, they still think just like us.

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