Satguru is a total package with flowing silver beards wearing smart silk south Indian attires of silk kurta and an eclectic mix of a dhoti and pyjama that is unique to Satguru himself. He marches ahead sometimes in only jeans and t-shirt with his huge black shades looking like a modern version of Santa Claus with grace and humility. He mingles with the crowd of great devotees and meets each group at a time for a brief lecture which is recorded live by his entourage.

His dark complexion adds to his tantric aura and mystical profile coupled with his booming Shiva chants. The baba is a version of grace and fortitude. The trip is centred on Satguru as we were shown his pre-recorded talks every day along with guru puja. This was also a chance to brief all the people in the group. My group was A0 and it had more than 50 people in the group. Luckily, the group leaders and our Tibetan handlers were very efficient and we managed to pass all the check points with ease. At times, we get inspected by the Chinese police who went through our visas and did an occasional head count too. The bus journey was a 10-hour trip – a day affair as we used to stop occasionally for lunch and loo breaks. Loo breaks are the funniest as men peed on the left of the bus and women on the right. There was an occasional mention of the Swaach Bharat abhyaan and the Shalabh shochalaya as the woman in the group often found their selves in embarrassing positions taking the natures call all out in the open Tibetan desert. The rocky brown mountains and a mix of a stone desert were our constant companions throughout the journey. To keep us awake, we used to do the Sukha Kriya which is deep breathing exercise coupled with a game of antakshiri or dumb charades. The bus would blaze away with vatic chants as we would sit motionless in a meditative posture. There was lots of knick-knacks, chocolates, cakes, chips and dry fruits to go around. So no one was left hungry.

The kitchen staff and our local helpers were very efficient and so was the tent system and accommodation at Mount Kailash and Mansarovar. The whole scent of spirituality and sense of going on a voyage was omnipresent throughout the journey as people speculated where and when the baba will give us a dharshan. Whether it was the bay sutra three that was tied around our wrists or the name tags on our bags, Isha and Satguru was the central brand and theme. The bus journey from Lhasa to Shegatse and then to Saga was tiring but we stopped for lunch and resting points throughout our journey. The roads provided us with a smooth and steady drive. I took my time in taking my naps and catching my two winks only to arrive at the next hotel. The moment I had checked into my room, I would jump into a hot water bath to ease the aches and pains of the day. I slept deeply throughout the Mansarovar trip and woke up fresh every morning. The vibrancy and energies of this spiritual saga were present throughout Odessa and so was the flavour of Satguru’s baba giri.

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