Thursday, January 18, 2018
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The saying, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ applies aptly to those who have been minting money by exploiting the urgency of the visitors. The Rickshaws and Tempos are doing that in a big way. The victims mainly are the foreigners. A lecturer in a local college says he was sitting in a tempo in which other occupants were foreigners. The tempo was not allowing any locals. The lecturer was allowed presumably  because he was mistaken for a foreigner as he is of a fair complexion. The foreigners had to get down before him. What he saw left him aghast. 

They must have covered a very small distance of two or three crossings. When they got down and asked, ‘How much fare?’ the tempo driver said, ‘Rs 500...’ The foreigners looked at him and said, ‘No. That’s too much. We’ll give you Rs400’. The tempo driver agreed. He revealed, ‘I had to cover a much longer distance. But I paid the tempo what I was  giving daily—Rs10. He did not mumble a word!’  The ‘Lai-Chana’ sellers in Mela are openly charging at highly inflated rates, three or four times of the price charged during normal days. But when one is hungry, one will give anything for a morsel. People were finding it extremely difficult in getting drinking water. But there was silver lining. ‘If one enters the mela then at every step you can find ‘Bhandaras’ being served. The saints too have a lot to give. There are both  plus and minus sides of the show.

Interestingly enough, one gentleman told me, ‘In the past we had to offer Dakshina to the saints. These days it is the saints who pay us  dakshina in kind—and cash to a trusted few!’

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Magh Mela 2014

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