I have met some very colorful characters over the years, both at home and abroad but none have compared to the absolute amazing and infectiously joyful ‘Baba Power’ (Baba is a word often used in Hindi as a term of respect and admiration, to mean “old man” or “father”).
I spent only a few hours, over the course of two days, in this mans presence yet, almost a year later, he keeps me smiling and grateful that people like him exist, in a world lacking enormously with people who have an inner happiness as assured as his.
‘Baba Power’, as he was introduced to me and my two friends, spoke no English at all. Despite this, we formed such an adoration and friendship between us all over our few hours together that it didn’t matter in the slightest. All he would say was “Babaaa” in an almost childlike innocence and we would start laughing (mainly at the absurdity of the situation we had found ourselves in), then he would begin to laugh because we were laughing and soon everyone around us was filled with a lightness of heart and a great contentment to be in the presence of each other. They were such simple and beautiful moments. We were just a group of strangers, from different parts of the world, sitting around laughing and becoming friends.
Me and my two friends Moy and Ciannait, were visiting Pushkar, Rajasthan for the annual Camel Fair in India. We were walking around the famous Holy Lake in the center of the town when we came across some Indian ‘Babas’ who were, as usual, sitting around drinking tea. Of all the ways that we could possibly bond with these Indian ‘Holy Men’, of course it naturally was through tea. Identifying our unanimous love for doing nothing more than sitting around drinking tea all day, the Irish girls sat down beside the Indian men, made friends, laughed, talked, drank tea and took photos together.
And then THIS happened…
Eventually one of the guys, who was dressed in normal, everyday clothes, invited us for a tour of an ashram situated just behind where we were sitting. It was a beautiful place; spiritual and open-air, where all kinds of people were welcome. We sat down at a table overlooking the lake when ‘Baba Power’ arrived. We were surprised to see this old man with a huge smile and even bigger beard, come right over and sit down beside us. Almost immediately, one of the guys staying at the ashram started playing music, knowing what was about to happen…and we were left with our eyes wide open and laughing harder than we’d ever done.
You see, our new friend ‘Baba Power’ had an enormous love for dancing; but he wouldn’t dance to just any kind of music. He had his preferences. Yes, ‘Baba Power’ had a love for ‘shaking his robes’ to techno and electronic music. And, when he got going, my god did he dance…
“Baba Power; Full power, 24 hour. No bath, no shower, still smell like a flower.”
Baba Power was a man that looked about 70 or 80 years old, with the spirit of a 20 year old. Anytime someone would play music from their phone or iPod (mainly to get a response out of Baba Power), he would immediately get up to dance, waving his long robes in a surprisingly elegant fashion as he leaped around the room, thrilled to be the cause of such entertainment and howls of laughter from all watching. One time he was half way through eating his dinner when he heard some techno music in the distance…not wanting to disappoint the obvious anticipation in our eyes, he sprung up and took position on his self-appointed dance floor. They eventually had to stop the music to ensure he finished his dinner. Such a bizarre, yet utterly brilliant spectacle to witness!
The highlight was definitely his ‘performance’ to Daft Punks ‘Technologic’, seemingly his favourite song. Luckily I captured it all very amateurishly on video…yeah you can thank me in the comments. Watch and enjoy!
Who is Baba Power?
Who Baba Power is, and where he came from is a mystery to us and to the guys who I thought had known him for a long time. It turns out, they knew him almost for as little time as we had, as Baba Power had arrived in Pushkar only a day or two before us. He went straight to the Ashram in the town where he was immediately welcomed and nicknamed ‘Baba Power’…so that wasn’t even his real…”name”. A person with an immeasurable magnetism over people, I assumed that he was friends with the people at the Ashram for many years by the way they interacted with each other. All they seemed to know about him was that he has been wandering around India for years, staying at Ashrams, practicing his religion and blessing people with being in the presence of the happiest man I’ve ever met.
I am too ignorant to know the significance of the beads he wore around his neck, or the orange robes, which seemed to symbolize his devotion to Hinduism, but I do know from first-hand experience that he garnered respect everywhere he went. One early morning we entered the Ashram to take part in a yoga class (my first yoga class ever…in India…by a “Guru”!) and found Baba Power immersed in intense prayer and meditation and nothing would deter his focus.
When I tell people about Baba Power, it is unfortunate that people immediately assume he was off his face on drugs. Maybe he was but I never saw any evidence of it while I was there. Besides is it really so hard to believe that a man, with no possessions, no home and apparently no identity, can simply be content with his life? A man, so happy and at peace with himself and his faith that it radiates from every pore in his body? I hope not.
I will always remember Baba Power, for having a kind and sincere face with a gentle soul and of course, killer techno dance moves!
It is situations like these, and people like Baba Power, which makes me unapologetically in love with travel. I am of a firm belief that, no matter how far or how many places you travel to, it is the people you meet that make it memorable. People are the stories you take home to your family. People are what you remember when you reminisce about great experiences. People hold a fascination within us, for which we travel to all corners of the globe to satisfy.
For me, travel is the people you meet.
Have you ever met anyone on your travels or at home who has left a positive memory and impact on you?
PS: Some photos courtesy of Moy’s Facebook (Thank Moy! :P)