Hunting spirits and busting myths at Panvel.
It was full moon. I was told not to get involved with unknown energies. But I have an unhealthy interest in the paranormal. So I went, and it was nothing like I imagined.
“Media se hain. Photo nikalne aaye hain,” (We are here from the media to take pictures) Sarbajeet says slyly to the security guard who gives us an inquisitive look as we trespass into his property. It’s not a complete lie. The photographer and I are media. But we are also guests of Sarbajeet Mohanty and Pooja Vijay, co-founders of P.A.I.R.S (Parapsychology and Investigations Research Society), who have invited us for a paranormal investigation. Like any other investigation, this one aims to reach rational conclusion through a scientific approach about a supposed paranormal phenomenon – simply put, the presence of a spirit or ghost. These guys are certified experts and we are outside an abandoned commercial colony in Panvel.
Entry to the haunted house
“Friends tipped me about this location. They felt a certain heaviness here, like someone was lurking around. They think they saw an apparition in the dead of the night,” Sarbajeet states looking around. The 21-year-old who claims to be the world’s youngest certified demonologist doesn’t seem to know much about the place. Neither do we. The bungalow was vacated years ago. Apparently it used to be an office, but was deserted for unknown reasons. Which is why we want to understand the paranormal phenomenon here, create a portal to contact the spirit, hear her side of the story and help her crossover.
It’s a warm night. With just the moon guiding us, we enter the colony. There are no gates, but lots of trees. It is separated from the main road by a short compound wall. A cobbled path leads inside beyond the guard’s room to a tiny temple which lies empty, dilapidated and eerie looking. Dogs bark in the distance to add to the spookiness of the experience. A white cat scurries along the bushes but stops momentarily to give us an evil gaze. I can see the fear on my friend’s face. Perhaps she can see the same on mine. Sarbajeet and Pooja seem unfazed.
Surrounded by bats, rats and ghosts
Sarbajeet tells me the last time he was here he was able to establish contact with the spirit of a lady.
“What do you mean by contact?” I ask.
Pooja, who is a psychic, past life regressionist, reiki master and an investigator, explains the physics. Apparently, unlike films, it’s not easy for us to see the spirits or hear them. Since they do not have a physical body, it requires a lot of energy to even hear them. “We ask them to give us hints of their presence by making simple actions,” Pooja adds.
Before heading into the house, the duo acquaints us with the equipment. There are two torches to guide us through the night, temperature readers to monitor fluctuations that occur in the presence of the spirits, a pair of walkie-talkies in case we get separated and most importantly EMF sensors to observe earth’s magnetic fields. Sometimes the spirit will use the energy of the earth to establish contact with the living and thereby disturb the earth’s magnetic field. The device will sense that and blink with a red light.
“For example, I tell the spirit if you are here, please blink on the sensor three times,” Sarbajeet demonstrates by holding up the device. Suddenly, three red lights blink on the sensor. I am taken aback. Even Pooja seems surprised.
“Looks like this is our welcome,” Sarbajeet chuckles.
The equipment used to detect spirits has to be imported from the US or UK
I was nervous and excited. The real investigation hadn’t even begun and I could already sense the presence of someone, or something. We finally make our way into the first abandoned shanty. Most walls are broken. The others are cracked. The ceiling is gone and a huge tree looms over us. Its branches have crept into the house through holes in the wall and window sills. The floor is filled with muck and dry leaves that crumble beneath our shoes. There are spider webs in the corner, and there’s four of us in the centre of what must have been the living room of the house, hoping to catch something.
“If you are here, please give us an indication. Please blink the EMF as you did outside,” Sarbajeet says talking to the supposed spirit in the room. I keep my eyes fixed on the sensor that is placed against the wall. Nothing happens. Pooja repeats the same. Still nothing. There’s an eerie silence.
“Umm..can the spirit understand us?” I whisper in Pooja’s ear. Responding in the affirmative, she explains that they connect on a telepathic level.
“Language does not matter. Though they may be more forthcoming if they hear a familiar dialect. Why don’t you say something in Marathi?” she suggests, nudging me.
So here’s one of the many firsts. My first conversation with the living dead. “Ithe koni aahe ka. Indication dya. Nusta bhetaila alo. Traas nahi denar. (If there’s anyone here, give us an indication. We are here only to meet you, not to trouble”) I say awkwardly. Nothing happens. Honestly, I am a little disappointed. I would have felt special had the spirit chosen to communicate with me.
After waiting a few minutes, we decide to explore other parts of the house and walk through a narrow corridor. I can feel a mild change in temperature. It is much cooler in the corridor than the living room which is hardly three steps away. Suddenly I hear a rustle of leaves. There’s no wind. Perhaps it’s an insect? Heading back to the living room Sarbajeet again pleads, “If there’s anyone here, please give us some kind of signal.”
THUD! There’s a loud sound from behind. Shaken, I turn around. It sounds like a heavy footstep. Pooja and Sarbajeet spring into action.
“If that is really you, could you do it again please?” Pooja requests. Within seconds there is another thud, much lighter than before.
“Thank you for responding. Was this house yours? If yes, please blink into the EMF. If not, you may knock.” We wait five minutes and hear another thud in the corridor. Thinking that the spirit has left and perhaps wants us to do the same, we decide to investigate the next house.
Any takers for a haunted one BHK?
Almost at once we notice our fully charged devices including cellphones and cameras are drained of 60% battery. “The spirit has used it.” I shake my head and look at the second house that seems spookier and is accessible only through a path lined with ruined broken walls and bushes.
Treading carefully I ask Pooja, “What if the spirit does not want to communicate with us?”
“Then it won’t. Just because they are dead does not mean they don’t have moods. They have the same personality they did when they were alive. So they’ll do what they want.”
This was news to me. Reading my mind Pooja continues, “This is why we want to create awareness. Not all spirits are evil. Some are just lingering. Some are confused. They do not know they are dead. Sometimes we need to make them realise that and help them crossover.”
The second house was like a one BHK. The ceiling, a tin shed, is intact. There’s just one window which is sealed. Feeling claustrophobic and uncomfortable, I think of all the scary stuff from horror films. Will I see a ghost staring at me from the window? What if something attacks me from behind, or worse, tries to possess my body? Thankfully, my thoughts are interrupted by a squeaking sound. I hear something move amidst the dry leaves. It’s a rat. I shriek! This is more terrifying than a ghost.
Sarbajeet initiating conversation with the spirit
I see Puja fumbling with the temperature reader. “Look how fast it is fluctuating,” she says. Withing seconds the reader drops from 26.8 to 25 degrees. Sarbajeet places the EMF on the floor and begins a conversation with the spirit.
“Last time, I was here, I had spoken to a lady. Are you still here?” There is no response. “Please give us an indication of any kind,” he adds.
I repeat the same in Marathi. Suddenly something falls on the ceiling. Is it the spirit?
“Is that you. Is this house yours?” Sarbajeet asks again. There’s no response.
“Do you want us to leave?” Again, something falls on the roof. Probably a bigger rock making a stronger sound. The message is loud and clear. I hurry outside and the rest of the team joins me. We don’t want to anger the dead.
But Sarbajeet is in the mood to play a little more. We turn back to the old house.
“Why don’t just the three of you go in? Maybe it will react differently to women.”
We walk in, this time with a spirit box which is a mobile app fed with Hindu scriptures that have been reversed. When switched on it continues saying words that don’t make sense.
“Are you male or female?”
“Female,” it says amidst the gibberish. I am astonished.
“How many of us are here?”
“Teen,” it says.
“Do you want to talk to us?”
“Nahi na,” it answers.
“Should we go?”
“Bye…see… you,” it says in gaps.
The Spirit Box has been created with the help of international paranormal organisations
I hurry out, spooked. We had an actual conversation. This app is genius.
“For our actual analysis, we will listen to the recording of words in slow motion to understand any other messages we may have missed and then make a report of the investigation. But that will take some time and perhaps more visits,” Sarbajeet says.
In my head I am still processing everything, putting faces to words. Yes, this investigation has busted myths. It has made me more accepting about the supernatural. It has made me realise that spirits are not always negative and something to be feared. I head home wishing I had seen the spirit or atleast an apparition. Never mind though. It has seen me. As long as it hasn’t followed me back.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com
By Priyanka Kapoor
Photographs by Rashi Arora