Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pulin

Guru's house had the atmosphere of a command center, which is exactly what it had been turned into since Pulin's kidnapping.

Though it had only been a few days, a rough picture of what had happened to Pulin was already taking shape. Apparently, Pulin's parents had asked him to meet them at a restaurant in New Jersey. Pulin never returned. His parents were "deprogramming" him.

By the time Jigisha and I arrived at Guru's house, Pulin's location had been confirmed with the help of a couple of private investigators. He was inside a house in Jersey. Just as quickly as Jigisha and I had arrived at Guru's house, we found ourselves being piled into a car with a bunch of other guys on our way to the Garden State (cue Sopranos intro).

Our immediate destination was a small hotel room crammed with 30 or 40 other disciples located a short distance from where Pulin was being held. The mood was tense. One of the older New York disciples (Dhruva) was on the phone with Guru, who was trying to decide on a course of action.

The choices seemed pretty bleak: do nothing or do something drastic (and perhaps dangerous). On the one hand, there was talk of help being offered by the Sikh community. They, apparently, had had some experience dealing with cult deprogrammers and offered their armed help if we wanted it. On the other hand, the two private investigators who were instrumental in finding Pulin didn't want any part of a direct action to go in and forcibly extract Pulin from the house (especially if guns were involved).

Though there was no vote of any kind, I personally was for going in, with or without the Sikhs. Thankfully, in hindsight, mine wasn't the prevailing view. After an hour or so, Guru recalled the troops. We took no direct action. Instead, we watched and waited.

Later, I heard through the grapevine that two disciples who had had some knowledge of electronics tapped into the phone line leading into the house where Pulin was being held. They learned that Pulin was to be flown out of La Guardia to the midwest for further deprogramming. That's when another disciple with connections to the travel industry was able to locate the exact flight Pulin was booked on.

The final phase of the plan simply involved Databir and some other disciples staking out the airport. Once Pulin was spotted outside the terminal, Databir shouted out his name and Pulin sprinted to his waiting car. A few minutes later Pulin strolled into P.S. 86 where that evening's function was underway. He only stayed a few minutes and then went into temporary hiding, but it was great to see him.

If I had to pick a celebrity to play Pulin in a movie I'd cast Sean Astin. Pulin left the Center of his own accord a few months later. I think he was already burned out and the whole kidnapping thing was the last straw. Pulin's departure from the Center depressed me; it was the first time I really felt a loss when a disciple left the path.

What a good man Pulin is. I still miss him and will always be grateful to him for taking me under his wing.

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