It was close to ten in the night. A light mist settled on everything around. There was a slight nip in the August air. Rishikesh seemed to be light years away from the hubbub we were all coming from. Even then, there was a buzz of activity here, too. But of a different sort. We were standing in the premises of the Rishikesh Gurudwara. We removed our footwear and covered our heads. We walked into the ‘langar’ area. This was the famous community kitchen that Sikh religion is often identified with. We washed our hands and feet and walked into the hall. As soon as we took our seats, there were plates and glasses and rotis and lentil and sweets materializing out of practically nowhere, in no time. There were people whom I had never met before, serving me as though I was a long-lost kin. Delicious second helpings later, we were guided to the quarters. There were rooms where weary travelers could stay for the night. Free of charge. They gave us blankets and basic beddings. They showed us to our rooms. They made sure we were comfortable while we were in the Gurudwara. I witnessed, for the first time, in close counters, the sense of selfless giving. This was the best form of faith being preached. Selfless giving. Expecting absolutely nothing in return.
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Every trip gives rise to a set of jokes that seem funniest during the trip, and later, when everything is over, those very jokes are repeated to evoke a wistful smile from the then-travelers. Every trip has its own set of earworms. Those God-awful songs that forever stay with you! And whenever you hear a strain of the song later on, everything about the trip comes rushing back to you in the delay of a second.