Lost and Found at the Sangam

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The administration chips in with the camping site, some basic furniture, a public address system and a handful of home guards. "Mostly, the people who come to him are very poor, who have somehow managed to reach here. He has been running the camp with dedication. That is why the administration relies on him to carry out this task," says Kumbh information officer JN Yadav.

But things are changing now. For the first time, the administration has allowed a private company to set up a lost-and-found camp using computers and Web-based technology. Tiwari is not very enthused about it. "Itni bheed mein computer kahan kaam karta hai (How will the computer work in such a huge gathering?)," he says.

Born to an astrologer, Tiwari lives in Allahpur, an old locality of Allahabad, situated close to the Sangam. He helps men and women get married in low-cost weddings, when he is not helping people re-unite with their near and dear ones. But age seems to be catching up with him. "Last December, I fell very ill. I had to be admitted to a hospital for a week. The doctor tells me that it is just old age. He has advised me to protect myself from the cold," he says.

Tiwari's son, Umesh Chand Tiwari (35), realised this a few years ago and decided to help his father full-time. "I worked in private firms in Gujarat for some time. But after 2005, when my father's health began to deteriorate, I decided to help him in his work," he says.

The biggest lesson he has learnt from his father is compassion. "Just be here for some time and you will realise how helpless people feel when their near and dear ones go missing. You keep announcing their names constantly, but they will still complain that you are not doing enough. They need to be comforted. And this is where my father's role becomes significant. His presence gives them a sense of assurance," says Umesh Chand. He intends to take the service to Mirzapur, UP, where many get lost during the Navratras.

... contd.

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