German med students I am traveling with.
From left to right, Olga, Lize, and David
I arrived at the Rishikesh bus terminal with the German's I had met on the train from Delhi. We alll managed proper introductions on the bus and it turns out that David, Olga, and Lize are medical students traveling together for the next six weeks. They arrived in Delhi and have roughly the same game plan for the north of India as me so we agreed to travel together for a while. They didnt have a guidebook, and were extremely grateful to have the use of mine, and I was extremely grateful to have some companions to travel with for a while. We all decided that the first order of buisiness was to get a rickshaw, and get somewhere out of the rain for a hot cup of chai.
Olga had heard of a few good places to stay so we asked the rickshaw driver to take us near the part of the city where they were located. A price of 50 rs was negotiated and we were off. Now as I have said before, everything is different here than back home. Absolutely everything. For example, we were surprised when the rickshaw driver stopped along the way to buy produce.
He told us to stay in, hopped out of the rickshaw, grabbed a few bannana's and some other fruit, and then hopped back in to continue our journey. A few blocks further down the road, he stopped at a roadside idol, dropped off the produce, chanted for a while, rang a series of bells, and then hopped back in to continue our journey. These are the kinds of things that I find facinating, and seem to find similar examples and behaviors all over the place. I hope I will have the opportunity to understand just what some of these ceremonial, and religious behaviors are for and what their significance is.
We found a cafe, some breakfast and hot chai, and Olga managed to convince me to come with them to one of two ashrams. I was a bit skeptical at first, but arrving to a beautiful, huge, marble structure with the friendliest staff imaginable changed my mind. 500 rs per night includes all meals, evening entertainment, hot water and a comfortable bed. We checked in almost immediately. After a hot shower, and changing into some dry clothes we all decided to set out and explore the city wich is
divided in half by the Ganges river. I was almost immediately awed by the beauty of this place. It was still raining but it had slowed down to a mere drizzle. Mist was surrounding small portions of the tall hills on either side of the river, and gently hazing out some structures right on the riverbank. Everything is lush and green, and people smiling at us everwhere, asking for us to hold their children and pose for photo's. Connecting the two halves of the city, and spanning the riverbank is a huge pedestrian only suspension bridge crossing the Ganges. Tons of monkeys with babies clinging to them run back and forth along the guardrails, and locals feed them fruit and dried rice. There are religios idols everywhere, and they are spectacularly detailed. I truly wish I could get some photos up, and will do so as soon as I possibly can. Words could just never hope to do this place justice. Its one of the few places I have ever been to that I would honestly say is as beautiful as home.
Its hard to believe that yesterday morning I was so frustrated and beaten down that I was
having thoughts of coming home. This city is absolutely incredible, and I am sad to have to leave it in a couple of days. We will probably stay for another few days as we have all booked Hindi lessons for tomorrow and the next day before moving on to Deradun, Chandigarh, and Mcleod Ganj in the Himalaya's. Mcleod Ganj is the site of the Tibetan government in exile, and there is an 8 day Buddhist meditation course that the German students and I both really want to take.
I will try and write again sooner rather than later, and get some pictures up as soon as its possible. Best wishes to everyone back home.
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