Yamuna has been through all this with the ever-prevailing wisdom in her head that nothing lasts forever. Dynasties and empires have come and gone, but Yamuna flows. Today I see her in her elegant evening gown, looking ravishing and fashionable as always, and she’ll always be around, with an ear and a shoulder to lend, respectively for the high-society gossip and friends’ tears.
After I had been close to the eldest and the middle sister, the youngest pulled me the hardest. Visiting Chambal or any of the places that she flows through was not on my itinerary. But Chambal conspired. Something or other kept happening that brought in front of me images and pictures of her. Although after all this conspiring I was aroused enough, I could not make an opening in my schedule to visit her.
Then Yamuna joined her sister in her fair games.
The day I was to travel to Delhi, the Delhi-Agra highway got blocked. The reason was Kailash Mela, which is held every year at the temple of Kailash. Situated at the river Yamuna, the temple lies close to NH 2 that connects Agra to Delhi. The mela draws a huge crowd and makes it impossible for any traffic to pass through the highway.
My plans of reaching Delhi halted, I decided to utilize the day and visit Chambal.
Dhaulpur, in Rajasthan, is an hour's drive from Agra. Just after the city of Dhaulpur lies the bridge of Chambal. The bridge is divided in half between the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Parallel to this road bridge is the railway bridge from where I used to glimpse Chambal in childhood.
Today, below the bridge, I see Chambal is in its full monsoon sway. She passes through some of the roughest terrain and hangs out with some of the meanest characters. Dacoits, both male and female, have inhabited the ravines that Chambal flows through for ages.
Chambal could easily be a girl wearing a bandana over her head and wearing jewelry that, unlike Yamuna’s classy pieces, is mostly handpicked from flea markets or filched from someone just for fun. She prefers to roam around in rags and is a true hippie-on-a-highway in every sense, and if you dare to rummage through her rucksack you might find a weapon – a country-made pistol or a knife. If you’d find Yamuna smoking a lady’s cigarette in an elegant holder, Chambal would be seen rolling a joint somewhere. Ganga, of course, is away from all this but she never judges her sisters.