Sunday, February 11, 2007

India Journal 2006 #5 Feb. 6-9-My New Home in Lovely Rishikesh

Well, I will make this short, just to let you know where I spent the first two days and then see if I can get caught up. We were taken by taxi to an Ashram (I hopefully will write a little more about Shantam, the guy I met at the airport who spent the first couple of days with me, but only when I have the inclination), and this was Ashram in its extreme I imagine. I'm sure there are some places which are quite pleasant, but this certainly wasn't one of them. First of all, no one there spoke one word of English which also prooved to be very problematic. It was quite isolated which could h ave been nice, but there was NO hot water whatsoever, the bed was board hard and did bad things to my back, and the food, well, the food. It was standard Indian food but with no flavor as they use no salt, no garlic, no spices of any kind I could taste. Just chapati, dahl and rice, which is fine if it has some flavor, and in the morning some horrible cooked grain also with no flavor. and of course we sat on the floor to eat, which is also OK, but on the cold, damp hard floor with not even a sheet to sit on. The room was also dark as they had no lights and only one tiny candle
so that you could not even see what you were eating. And NO spoon at all for either of us and the dahl was short...not pleasant and certainly not satisfying. In addition, meals were at certain times and if you missed them, you are out of luck. And of course we were expected to wash our own dishes, which basically is also OK, but for all the above luxury we were expected to pay 400 rupees per day for the room and another 200 rupees a day for the food!!!

So on the morning of the second day both of us met after my meeting with the doctor and found our way up to Bhandari (New) Swiss Cottage and picked our rooms after much deliberation. I have a very nice room at the very end of the guesthouse so it is completely quiet and surrounded by foliage. And, wonder of wonders, there is a swing right outside my room, just like the one I always had in my own garden and have missed for the last 2 years in my city home. and no one ever seems to want to use it except me! Either listening to the birds, or reading, or using my IPod to hear lovely is a true treat and blessing. Wonderful shower with pressure and I can heat the water any time I want any time of the day and it is BOILING hot! I've set up the room very comfortably and even have plenty of floorspace to do my yoga etc. And all this for only 250 rupees a day!!

So now to the morning of the 6th after sleeping not very soundly but actually starting my needlepoint which I bought to take with me at the last minute. It was really a good idea for relaxing when you don't even feel like reading. Put on some nice music and drifted away. And then morning finally came and vivek, the guy in charge of the place I am doing the treatments came to pick me up and take me to the appointment with the doctor.
And, to my great surprise, we were doing this on his motorbike. Thank goodness for my experience in 2003 when I spent 5 weeks on Ravin's motorbike in Chennai. He took me on a quick tour of Rishikesh to get me orientated and that was a good idea for me later on in the day, and then we went to meet the doctor. You can read about that in the posts re: my treatments which I am keeping separate.

I am not sure of the day but I think I am now talking about Thursday....The place I am doing the treatments was also a good choice in the end. It is small and austere, very basic but also very clean and VERY personal . I get 100% full attention from everyone and this pampering is a true luxury for me.
My cold and cough are just about a thing of the past as is that strange pain I had the last couple of days in my scalp running down to my neck etc. But that disappeared miraculously the second I found myself on the plane to Delhi....

Slept beautifully and had a nice hot hower this morning and my first of 2 daily doses of 3 TAB of melted butter with my porridge this morning. Walked down to the treatment center. It is very similar to walking down from Bhagsu... Mountain rising up on one side and falling off down the other, but not Pine forest like in Dharamsala. It is the type of foliage Ruskin bond describes in his books, but not sure what the trees are. Perhpas spruce and some maple? Don't know but still wonderfully green and embracing. And of course monkeys everywhere, but here also the beautiful white ones (lemurs?) are also found in addition to the aggressive Rhesus.And the many birds singing, outside my room, while walking, everywhere...
The big difference is of course that once the mountain slopes all the way down, it reaches the Ganges and this is lovely. The color of the water changes each day, but it is clean and clear and quite lovely. I am surprised by the beauty of it, and it is very low this time of the year. And of course when you finish the walk down you arrive at one of the two bridges, Ram Jula and Laxman Jula...Laxman being the original built in 1939 I believe and Ram Jula built fairly recently further downstream where there was previously only a ferry. They are both very crowded at all times and even motorcycles go across them and they vibrate. You really have to get used to the feeling.

I did lots of walking after my treatment taking the very long way around home through Laxman Jula...I had started on the far side of Ram Jula...I know this means nothing to most of you but I had to walk along the bank from one bridge to the other, and then going up Laxman Jula after getting back to the other side of the Ganges and up to town is all uphill, with lots of steps...and then my guesthouse is even further up hill...quite a climb. But I enjoyed it and hope once my treatments are over and I am not expected to rest alot, I will do lots more of this. I was even told there is a waterfall up in the forest so eventually hope to get there as well.

OK, I will end here and finish catching up tomorrow... I actually lost a whole day as someone came up to me while I was eating dinner and "Shabbat Shalom" and I said "What do you mena? today is Thursday!!" The only way he could convince me that it really was Friday was to ask all the other people in the restaurant what day it was!! So now I just have to write about Shabbat and today, Sunday, but will do that next time.

The next post will contain little impressions etc., as well.

Namaste for now