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I happened to meet Kummanam Rajasekharan last week. It was only our second meeting. On both occasions, we had discussed Sabarimala matters; and he did not share my views on most things. But this time, he suddenly asked me whether I would like to visit Thiruvannamalai with him. I agreed because he was after all, MD of a big newspaper, among other things; and it would be a posh trip. An AC car would be certain, security assistants would look after all movements.
The next day, I was shocked to find him and his companion CG Rajagopal, the Media Head of the VHP, inviting me to join them in the Second Class compartment of a night train. Morning found us getting fresh in the Retiring Room of Erode Station, not even single room Hotel accommodation. Into Jolarpettai Passenger to Samalpatti, and two hours of ordinary bus from there to Thiruvannanmalai; Rajagopal helping both of us older men with our bags!
Lunch at the Aum Amma Ashram, of plain rice and a vegetable curry; but cooked and served benevolently by the Amma’s only Attendant and Manager, Swami Samahithananda, with us seated on the floor. Amma’s rare Darshan, though it was not a Darshan Day, and Kummanam arranges a simple garland and fruits beautifully on a steel plate, to offer it very reverently and gracefully to the Amma. Amma blesses us and we leave for the Town, me looking forward to a Hotel room with TV and amenities, preferably AC.
My friends take me instead to the District Kaaryaalay of the RSS. Smart RSS boys solicitously welcome us. The VIP Room is forced on me by Kummanam who sleeps on the floor without a bed along with the others in the Hall. The VIP Room has a cot, no bed! But I fall into sound sleep immediately.
Early morning , and we go around the Town, to the Arunachala temple, Ramana Ashram etc. No AC Car to travel. There are three TVS 50s. Kamaraj, the District Karyavah, rides one with CG Rajagopal on the pillion; Sewa Pramukh for two States, Padmakumar carries Kummanam; and Pavendran carries me because I want to move slower. Midday meal at Ramanasram’s free food offer. Back to Kaaryaalay for a nap and into a Bus to Salem; and Second class again on a Train to Ernakulam. Kummanam carefully wakes me up at 3. 30 AM to get down at Aluva.
I have journey-ed with many VIPs and journalists, minor and big time. But this was an eye-opener adventure for me. What did I get out of the trip other than the spiritual glow? I usually take an Auto or Taxi to my house at Desam; or ask someone to bring the car. This time however, I wait at the Bus Stand till 5.30 for the Bus. At home, the wife rushes to make tea for me. I tell her to go back to sleep; tea can wait till the usual morning hour.

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