Each morning and evening we would start out from Bapu's place, walk to the main gate of Sabarmati Prison, then turn back. At any time, Bapu's pace was too brisk for us . But as we neared the prison gate if he wasn't engaged in serious discussion he would almost run the last fifty yards or so. Sometimes we would remove Bapu's hands from our shoulders and dash to the gate. Sometimes Bapu would put his entire weight on our shoulders, lift his feet off the ground, and shout,'Come on, Boss, let's see how you run !' Bapu used to nickname those he cared about, often bestowing more than one name. Among the many showered on me was ("Boss"). Of course, he meant it in fun, and at that age, it certainly never aroused in me the quality the name implied.
On the way back, Bapu would begin his visits to those in the ashram who were ill. Experiments in the ashram encompassed every aspect of life. Naturally, this included health. In its pursuit, quite a few factors were taken into account. Regularity and restraint were important rules of ashram life. We stayed close to nature. Standard medical practice had been set aside, replaced by experimental, natural treatments.
Different types of bath were tried. Mud packs on head and abdomen were advocated by some. Above all, Bapu liked to experiment with diet . If an ashramite wanted to try out a special diet, Bapu would go all out to encourage it. Some would eat only raw food, others would drink peanut milk, still others would take to bitter neem leaves. What was amazing was that Bapu was an expert adviser in all these fields of experiment.
But in the midst of them all, the best medicines were always Bapu's personal care,his faith, his sense of humour. In fact, you could say that illness here was a boon, since it was rewarded with two visits a day from Bapu. For Bapu, this meant a complete round of the ashram.
The ashram in those days was very different from what it is today, both in appearance and atmosphere. Compared to today, one might think it was too small and isolated. But it was also cleaner and more peaceful.
As today, the prayer ground lay on the river bank, between Bapu's bungalow and Magankuti the home, while he lived, of Bapu's