When I planned the vacation to Mount Abu I never imagined I’d be visiting temples there. I’d envisioned a cold hillside where I could take long walks and breathe in the fresh air that had become extinct in the cities I lived in. However, as always, the unexpected is what happened and I visited 4 temples at Mount Abu – Dilwara Jain Temple, Arbuda Devi, Achleshwar, Somnath and two Brahma Kumari spots – their pillar less peace hall and the peace garden.
The Arbua Devi temple is on a hill top of sorts and one has to walk 350 steps to reach the shrine. Now I don’t remember the last time or the first time I have climbed so many steps to visit a temple, but for some reason I was up for it. We crossed the market at the base and joined the small crowd walking up. Thankfully the steps were not too steep and there were resting points in between, where we could catch our breath and sit for a while before trudging up again. En route there are stalls selling holy items – pictures of gods and goddesses, paintings, toys, knick knacks and well of course, refreshments for the weary devotees.
We did not take anything on the way up, but as we descended, I got a hankering for a drink. The weather was still pretty mild and not very warm, but the walk had made me thirsty. We stopped at the first stall selling juice. The juice shop man rhythmically repeated in his baritone – “Nimbooo Fudinaaa, Jaljeeraaaa….the rest I don’t remember”, but you get the gist.
I think we were the first customers of the day, his “boni”. Wife ordered a nimbu pudina juice and after some deliberation, I ordered a lime soda. The juicewala asked us to wait on a stone bench opposite in the shade while he made our drinks.
Shortly he called out to us that the lime soda was ready and I walked up to collect it. One sip and I smiled – it was simply perfect. I am not sure how, but he’d gotten everything right – the amount of lime, the soda, the fizz. I downed it slowly relishing every moment. Meanwhile wife’s nimbu pudina juice arrived. The glass was half full – our juicewala, like a magician whipped out a bottle of the ‘goli’ soda and spurted its contents into her glass. The end product was brilliant – the nimbu, the pudina and the soda, mixed with a dash of jeera powder was a superb respite.
Wife decided to experiment with my juice by mixing some goli soda in it. Despite my many protests, she committed the dreaded act and it was never again what it was. Ah!