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Manjushree’s book

Pictorial Synopsis

When a grasshopper jumps, it is sudden, high and unpredictable. Our grasshopper here is a lively and lovely young woman who can not / does not stay in one place for long.

Her name is Gopika.

She is single, pretty, and happens to be a spiritual seeker. Her mindset is of a devotee, so she staunchly allows her heart to rule over her head. Unlike her, Gopika’s family is an intellectual bunch, for whom the only mystery in the world is Gopika.
We find her working with a television channel in Bombay. While she is trying to woo a prospective groom, Gopika is diverted to an Advaita master, Ramesh Balsekar.

As she is falling in love with Ramesh, she falls more in love with one of his senior disciples. Who turns down her request to accept him as a Guru, maybe because he enjoys being a disciple. Gopika is shattered. The reaction is a take-off – the first of many…

After a harrowing spell of family life in Calcutta, she comes back to Ramesh, hoping to clear her head. Where she meets an English seeker who is even more confused than her.

For bread and butter she manages to get an assignment, something way beyond her abilities, to make a documentary film for a business channel. That Gopika cannot complete the documentary to her boss’ satisfaction is a pity. Because she doesn’t have anything to hold her back when the Englishman asks her to accompany him to a small town in South India. The town is recommended because it has a holy mountain, Arunachala.

Romance finally happens, with the mountain!

Gopika is utterly charmed. The world begins and ends with the enchanting Arunachala. She is completely at home in the little town that surrounds it, its ashrams and teashops, its sadhus and seekers, its gods and babies… all held together by the magical spell. So much so that she does not mind working as a cook in a bohemian ashram run by a foreigner.

She meets an American musician, Fareed. There is an instant attraction which leads to a walk around the mountain that culminates in bed. Fareed flies back to the US, with promises of growing old together.

Back in Calcutta, Gopika discovers a friend in her grandmother. The discovery is bittersweet, for the old lady bids goodbye to this world. Gopika is deeply touched by the beauty of the passing away.

Far off in the US, Fareed finds a producer for a series of videos on the Advaita master, to be directed by Gopika. The remuneration will pay for her ticket to San Francisco. And so Gopika finds herself back in Mumbai, shooting the master as he answers the seekers’ queries. The afternoons are spent sitting next to a Sufi Baba on the roadside. Soon her ticket is procured, the visa is coming through. She is ready to fly.

But a grasshopper jumps, in directions unpredictable. At the last minute, Gopika cancels her ticket and gets on the train to South India, to once again look at her mountain.


Book reviews – A Grasshopper’s Pilgrimage

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