This monk, a member of the sect called the Ananda Marg (Road to Bliss), cut quite a figure on the road. I waited until he was within striking distance, and then took this picture before he had realized what I was up to. The deed done, I smiled at him, and he smiled back. I was relieved. I had once tried to photograph a monk on the road. Hardly had I raised the camera than he began waving his arms and hurling abuse at me. Most un-monk like behavior.
The Ananda Marg has its headquarters in Calcutta, with a controversial past that I remember reading about while still a schoolboy in Calcutta. I asked this Ananda Margi whether he would be in Cochin long, and was surprised when he said he was staying in their own ashram, which is near the Orthodox Sunora Church on SA Road.
He asked me why I had taken his picture. I replied that he looked dashing in his robes. He smiled at that and said dismissively, “That is only the external appearance.” A reply befitting a monk, I thought. He then invited me to visit his ashram. I said I would come one day, upon which we parted.
So, the next time you see a figure in these characteristic robes and head gear, know that he is an Ananda Margi.