After moving through a gazillion tiny confusing lanes that seemed like alleys from Gangs of Wasseypur, he guided us into his casino. I had to call it that because that’s where these fake guides hit the jackpot. It was a temple with a large gate, followed by a huge tulsi plant right in the middle of the entrance verandah. Pundits and pilgrims had diyas, incense sticks and flowers placed in front of this plant on an elevated platform.
As we stepped inside, I noticed that the floor had white marble tiles with names of people written on every tile. Every wall of inside this temple looked the same – white tiles with names on them. The guide asked us to circumambulate the plant and pray for our own and our family’s well being. Once done, he then guided us into a smaller room within the temple. The room had a large curtain waiting for us. He asked us to sit down and wait for punditji, who would perform a special pooja for us. One of the priests that I noticed earlier smoking in the verandah, soon took over. The guide was told to wait outside.
This priest helped us pray, asked us to chant a few mantras and in no time, requested us to donate a hefty amount. It was all in the name of God, mind you. Acceptable donations are no less than Rs 12,000. He would not let us talk or discuss this with each other. He even tried intimidating us in every possible manner. It was almost as if he was forcing us to pay the money.
When asked why, he said that the amount would be used to place another tile in the temple with the donor's name on it. The priest then started citing examples of generous donors in the past and how their fortunes turned overnight. There were a few people sitting around us, who were actually his accomplices. My experience had prepared me for this as well. They started declaring their donations loudly with humongous numbers to make all this look legit. I knew the drill, so declined to pay anything. What happened next was funny and rather uncalled for!
They started cursing us for not showing love towards God. Those pundits actually started abusing us. Sitting in the house of God, they did it without flinching! Oh, I almost forgot. We had a guide waiting outside. The guide was to get his commission for bringing us here. Every penny I would have donated here would have added to his profits as well. So, he too joined the band of conviction.
Eventually, the hooligans realised they won't be making any money from us. They had to let us go after we paid the guide his fee. We had agreed at Rs 31 as his fee (yes, in 2019!) He was good at telling stories and explaining everything till we reached the Tile Temple. So, I paid him Rs50 instead and set him off.