Saturday, May 03, 2008
The Himilayan foot-hills
Up in "the hills". That would be the Indian term for my trip into the Himalayan foothills.
Javed, my good friend from Udaipur, met up with me in Delhi after I returned from Varanasi and we set off into the hills with another couple. Six hours north of Delhi we arrived in Rishikesh. As I said in my earlier blogs, Rishikesh is know for its Ashrams, yoga courses, and as the place The Beatles went when they came to India to stay at an ashram.
Rishikesh is a nice city but it is clear spirituality is on sale here. Everywhere you go there are sadus and swamis (monks of sorts) asking or money or offering to bless you. There are posters and banners for yoga classes and meditation courses. It is kind of a New Age Mecca. I did not participate in any of these things, but if it hadn't been for my sprained ankle I would have done a yoga class or two. I did attend an evening Puja which was great. There were so many people there praying and singing. 99% were Hindus, but a few foreigners were scattered around. The pictures of the people on the steps are from that Puja, as is the statue and the kids playing in the water.
While we might not have taken time out to work on our inner selves we did work on the physical. That's right, I went white water rafting down the Ganges! It was amazing fun. The rapids put me into hysterics as we were plunged into walls of water and sucked and rocked over massive rapids. Well I can't say how massive the rapids were, I am sure there are much lager, but they are the largest I have ever experienced. At one point we were given the option to jump into the Ganges. Javed was in the water faster than I could take off my shoes but I also dropped myself into the freeing glacier water. Why not? I got to cleanse myself of all my sins of this life time, AND I got to get the closest thing to icing my ankle as one can in a burning hot country. We also went cliff jumping. FABULOUS! Should I have done these things with an ankle I can barely walk on? Probably not, but I have no regrets. My only wish is that I'd had my camera. A man took photos of us and I have copies but they are not very good and you don't see us white water rafting or swimming.
Rishikesh despite the fun, was still not a break enough from the heat for me so we four headed north again. We went to a small village another four hours north of Rishikesh. Here it was cold! Well the days were nice, mid-high twenties, but the evenings were very chilly. Despite my still sore foot, I took off for a walk around the twisty hill top road to take in the scenery and enjoy the fresh air. The pictures of green hills and tress are from this area. There were also irises everywhere! fields of them! Irises are one of my favorite flowers. The smell of pine needles, and the fresh unpolluted air were very very welcomed.
From here we moved on to Moosurie. Javed and I did not stay there unfortunately as we had to return to Rishikesh and then back to Delhi in order to get to Udaipur for his cousin's wedding. Mossurie is an absolutely beautiful tourist town. It mostly just attracts Indian tourists, I was the only western that we saw. Mossurie is probably the cleanest place in India. WOW was it clean! signs everywhere told people to put their rubbish in the bins or pay a fine. The streets where lined with rod-iron fences and street lamps. Very Victorian British. Very beautiful. We spent about an hour wandering around this town and I wished we could have stayed a week. Everyone was so kind and friendly, it was nice to see Indian couples taking a romantic holiday and poses for pictures with the mountains behind them. Mosurie also boosts a Domino's, Baskin Robbins, and a Coffee Day (Indian coffee house chain). I was shocked to see these chains in such a relatively remote hill town. Even Rishikesh does not have any of these.
So a few days ago we boarded a morning train from Rishikesh to Delhi, (on the train a sweet elderly Indian couple mistook Javed and I for a married couple, after letting them think this for a few hours and taking all the wife's "advise" Javed corrected her and said we were not married but engaged. I was downgraded and I didn't realise since the conversation was in Hindi! The whole thing made Javed and I chuckle to ourselves for the good 5 hour ride. I got all the pointers on what to do and not to do as an Indian wife, I love how she proceeded to tell me this after saying she refuses to interfere with her married children's lives. They were very sweet and blessed us with a long and happy life together when we parted.
So here I am in Udaipur and oh do I have stories to tell!