Monday, March 05, 2007

India Journal 2006 #17-March 3rd

Today is actually Monday the 5th and there is an awful lot to catch up on, and so many different topics that I will do my best to keep some order in this post as well as the special one I will write about Holi, the Festival here which was exactly the same time as Purim, and in many ways, including the original story about the beginnings of the Festival and the opportunity for people to do things that they normally wouldn't. But that is for a separate post.

So, let's get back actually to Friday night, when I went to Mamaji's for thali and was sitting talking to some people. I mentioned that I was thinking of taking a walk the next day across the Laxman Jula bridge and head upstream but also up the mountain on a path I had heard of. One of the women strongly adviced me against doing it alone as very recently a woman was raped up there....this is happening everywhere all over the world and it is really very sad.

Well, John was there (you remember I'm sure, I mentioned him already, the retired biology professor from Canada living his dream by travelling the world after retiring) and he suggested

that we meet after breakfast on the morrow and take the walk together. Sounded great to me but made sure to ask him what type of walking he liked doing, what pace, how far, etc., and he said don't worry...I love walking but I am a 63 year old retired biology professor!!

That seemed to very comfortably put him in league and we planned to meet up in the morning.

When I got back to my room, I found an SMS invitation from Vivek to a Holi party the following evening at 5, which I happily accepted, and realized it would be one really full but fun day.

We headed out in the morning and took a nice stroll down and through Laxman Jula, with John browsing the shops on the way. We came to a CD shop and he wanted to add some things to his growing collection, and I made some suggestions which the salesman promptly seconded...and then John asked a question I would never think to ask...and I found out that they will burn any CD you want onto a disc and then instead of paying 300-400 for the original, each CD would only be 70 rupees!! so I will now make my own picks over the next couple of days as well.

Then we headed over the bridge, took some quick shots with these guys who get all dressed up and allow tourists to pose with them for a price (he's the guy at the top of this post)...headed upstream, found the path up the mountain, but decided to continue along the water for awhile longer. But it turned out to be just a plain rode, with nothing special to see, except of course the Ganga views, people doing the rapids and building along the banks.

We went back and headed up the mountain path and it was simply heaven.

John, who comes from Vancouver, commented that this could be a mountain path anywhere...for him perhaps, but certainly not for me, but we had a wonderful walk heading up all the way, until we got tired and agreed to head back down. It was a perfect few hours.

Along the way, we passed two very unusual trees, as you can see from these pictures,

and I have been contemplating their messages since seeing them. The first I think is a pretty clear message to ME which I will attempt to put into words in a further post. The second also seems to have a deeper message and again I will do my best to comment in a future post about both trees and the lessons they have brought.But would love to hear your comments as well...look at them and let me know what you think. Since this was originally written, I have received a very clear "message" regarding the second tree which has embraced the rock, and you can read the message on my Mindfulness Journal

While walking up the rocky, rapidly climbing path, surrounded on all sides by forest, birdcalls and quiet, a perfectly blue sky above, I realized that I should have worn my hiking boots, and commented to John that my knees will most certainly complain tomorrow, especially after the decent.

(The next day came, and, to my great surprise, there was not a pain or complaint from any part of my body...another benefit of the treatments...I'm surprised over and over again as these little things come to my attention, and sooooooooo pleased)

We came down off the mountain back to the reality of Rishikesh, the day that the Holi Festival was to begin in the evening, and the town was jumping. Full of Indians on vacation, so colorful, bands playing, temple bells ringing...we were surrounded by India and loving every moment.

We decided to head over to the orphanage for lunch,

and just about made it up there before both of us were ready for a good cold drink and food. (You can see John in the pictures). We had a wonderful lunch, and while there, met a Dutch woman...most certainly not by chance.

She had been to India the year before...and told her a very long, slow story, as her English was not very good, but the message for me was again clear. She is also in her sixties, and when she got back to Holland, people began asking her to take thme a similar trips to India, and of course she hesitated, and kept saying no, but in the end she did it and was now in Rishikesh with her second group. And the money she earns pays for HER trips to India. She does very specific itineraries, for short periods of time, does not accompany the people she takes everywhere, but rather gives them choices and lets them go off on their own, explaining all this to them before leaving home.

She takes them to easy to do places and they are all very pleased. Most are also older people but completely able to take care of themselves and not in need of a babysitter.

Now, for the past year or so, people have been asking me to do this and I keep saying no. But after speaking to her, I realize that a very specialized trip, with a small amount of actual travelling and more enjoying India in a slow relaxed way and becoming familiar with the people, sounds, colors, smells etc., without pressure, is an ideal way for many people to learn to love India. I now have some ideas about ways I might be able to do this, using my local contacts to make things easier...I will think about it when I get home...but no meeting is by chance and this was certainly meant to give me food for thought about my own future....

Well, I got back to my room at 3:30, rested until 4:30, and then headed off with Ainat to the Holi party...which I will write about when I write about Holi and the whole following day, where we were mostly prisoners in hiding until the shenanigans were over around 3 in the afternoon.

I will end this post here, and continue with Sunday, Holi, and some further very interesting insights into my own wonderfully blessed life.

I have also changed rooms, in the same guesthouse but upstairs in a lovely bright sunny room...just as the weather has also changed and overnight become much warmer. So I am warm, quite warm...about 24 degrees during the day and not so cold anymore at night, and I have a lovely bright, sunny room with a view of the Ganga as well as the mountains all around. And just a little closer to the monkeys!!