October 22, 2008 – OUT AND ABOUT
Today was my first day “out and about” without anything specific to do. I still had items on my shopping list and found most of what I needed while out walking, but I was out for a full day, from 10 AM to 4, as is my usual habit while in India. It was a lovely day and the feelings of joy kept arising from within, bringing me to tears several times during the day. I it just about impossible for me to express here y feelings of gratitude over and over and over again for the wondrous way my dreams have become my reality. I find myself just stopping to look around, gaze at my surroundings, touch something physical, just to prove to myself once again that I am not still dreaming. Tomorrow I begin panchakarma, so do not know if I will be doing this on a daily basis, will try to do it as for as long as I can for I truly enjoy the leisurely pleasures of these long, mindful, walks.
So, what did I do today?
Let’s see if I can remember …I woke up for the first time in my new room, with my bed facing the mountain where the sun rises in the morning, and experienced the joy of Nature before I even had my eyes opened. I was literally awakened by the sun suddenly streaming in and warming my face. I got up and tried out my new extension cord and heating fork, boiling up a large container of water to drink warm first thing. Then did a full 1 ½ hours of “morning stuff”, including a full yoga workout…there is plenty of room in the room even though I’ve added a full sized table and extra chair. It is actually too chilly and windy to do outdoors that early in the morning. I then had a lovely hot shower, dressed in one of my new suits and went down for breakfast. B the time I finished breakfast, it was after 10 and time to go out.
Went down to Laxsman Jula, passed places I haven’t been to for 6 months, and to my surprise, the beggars and babas along the stairs near the temple gave me a lovely smiling Namaste and Adio when seeing me. I didn’t give them money today. They just remembered me and were happy to see me. Nice. Past several shops and a lovely Namaste from the CD shop guy as well. Down to the bookstore, again a pleasant hello Madam, and found myself a new book as I am almost finished with the Harry Potter I am reading (yes, Harry Potter…I’ve been wanting to read them for years and decided that this trip I will read as many as possible…I am now almost finished with the 1st one…and thoroughly enjoying it).
Then down and across the bridge, picking up some things I needed along the way, checked out the hours for packaging at the post office as I have to get a package one of these days, out of the Laxman Jula area and down to the path along the Ganga. And finally reaching Vivek Deepak’s center in Ram Jula. Vivek was not there today but Deepak was ever so pleased and surprised to see me and we had a lovely talk for awhile. He is almost so much fun to talk to so I will relate a story he told me which had me laughing almost to tears the way he told it. If he ever decides to give up teaching Yoga, he can be a stand-up comedian!!
We were talking about rising prices (to my dismay, prices have really gone up and I find myself having to check menus before going into restaurants. At the Green Restaurant they were asking 120 rupees for the simplest plate of pasta!). We were talking about the new wave of malls and coffee shops hitting urban India (he says not yet in Rishikesh but he is sure it will come soon, and the shops and coffee shops will be full of people!). I told him about my experience in the Mall in Delhi where the coffee was 79 rupees and he was astounded. He said he knows now that coffee in these shops runs about 50-60 rupees, but 79 is even more ridiculous than ridiculous. He then began to tell me the story of his first encounter, just a few months ago, with this type of coffee shop.
He was in another town with Vivek doing a Yoga Camp for some big hi-tech industry and one day they decided the time had come to treat themselves and try out one of the coffee shops. They KNEW it would be expensive…even 50 rupees a cup, but figured at least once in their life they had to try it.
So they both ordered coffee, one of them cappuccino and the other according to price…(I’m tell it as he did)…something that cost 55 rupees and was the cheapest on the menu. So the waiter brought their coffee and he was given a very little cup of some pure black stuff, which he was sure was a sample the waiter brought him to see if he liked it, before actually brining him his cup of coffee. But just to be sure he called over the waiter to ask if this was the sample and the waiter said “no sir, this is what you ordered!” ..”What?….55 rupees for 2 drops of coffee?????” “Yes sir”. “Of course you must be joking….please bring me my cup of coffee”….”But I have sir…this is your coffee!”.
It was so funny the way he was telling this story…you can imagine how he felt when the miniscule amount of coffee served in an expresso was presented to him. He was expecting, obviously for 55 rupees, at least a full cup of something. Then of course he told me how he finally drank it, and it didn’t even taste good. Up and coming India….
From there, I went into Swag Ashram and went down to the Shiva Ghat, took off my shoes, and went down to sit in the shade on the steps in front of Shiva. They’ve changed the Ghat area slightly (this is the ghat where the Aarti Puja is each evening), but the feeling of quiet and peace was still there. I sat down, took out my mala, and said several rounds of my Guru Mantra along the ganga, in this lovely setting, and felt so at peace.
From there, I went in to the internet for a few minutes. It is cheaper in Ram Jula than here. And from there had a quick lunch …as I mentioned, where I had planned to eat (and I was very hungry by then), the prices were absurd, so finally ordered something according to price and wound up with a biryani, which was nothing to get excited about. While I was there several people came in, saw the menu and left. I would have left but I was so hungry by then, I just couldn’t. On the way back to Ram Jhula I saw a lady selling fresh spices on the street to stopped to buy what I need for now. She couldn’t speak any English but showed me a small glass which she filled with whatever spice you wanted and placed a 20 rupee note on it, indicating the price. I was able to get everything I needed for Chai Masala (she grinned as I purchased each thing finally saying to me with a smile…”chai masala, chai masala”…So I now have the makings of chai masala when I feel like it.
Following this, I went across Ram Jhula, got a couple of more things I needed. Went past my favorite Chemist who was pleased to see me and welcomed me to Rishikesh, a couple of more things added to my bag on the way out and finally got a rickshaw to take me back to Tapovan to get the rest of my shopping done before heading back “home”. I got to the local shop, bought some cleaning fluid and other things I need and then carrying a fairly heavy bag, began the “trek” up to Swiss Cottage. As I got to the corner just at the beginning of the hill, a rickshaw went past, and I don’t pay attention to them as they ask for 50 rupees up the hill. But he slowed down and watched me moving along. Now during this time I was really tired, and thinking to myself that I really wished I didn’t have to walk up this hill now…and just as I thought this, he stopped near me and waved me into the Riskshaw. “no thanks” says I…”I will walk…don’t want to pay for rickshaw up hill”…and he says “I know…is OK…you get in…please”. So I asked if he was really just being nice to me and he said “yes madam..please…you get in”. So I did. And he took me up to the top of the hill for free with a big smile on his face when I got out and said “thank you sir.”.. I must have really looked like a tired old lady shlepping a heavy bag for him to have offered this to me….but it was in answer to my request not to have to walk up the hill and I was most thankful and pleased.
Once up, I stopped for delicious masala chai and pastry at the Swiss cottage restaurant, as has been by habit the last 4 days (and will have to stop beginning tomorrow with the panchakarma)…following which I went up to my room.
Once there, I unpacked my shopping bag, used the new “Lysol” cleaner I brought to clean my toilet, sink and wash my floors, place camphor balls (I saw this used in a few places and thought it a good idea as the bathroom here has a bad smell very often from outside) in the drain on the bathroom floor, and then got into bed, tired but happy and took a lovely nap. It is now almost 6 in the evening and I will finish this off, and then relax with some music and games outside on the roof where the weather is just beautiful. It is down dusk and will soon be dark but it is cool and pleasant…Just need a long sleeve shirt to sit outside…no mosquitoes here in Rishikesh and just couldn’t be more perfect.
What the rest of the evening holds, I have no idea, but it has been as perfect a day as can be, although I am feeling the day in my body which is not quite used to this yet….I walked at least 5 kilometers during the day…perhaps more, but it is a lovely feeling of contentment and gratitude which fills me right now.
Rest of the evening: Well, I read for awhile, listened to music and then got hungry. Truth is, the last three evenings I’ve eaten all kinds of things I shouldn’t, and I am certainly feeling it, but from tomorrow, for a full month and more, I will be extremely restricted in what I eat and I just had these urges which I knew I had to fill. Two nights ago I had chicken tikka and chips. Last night, grilled cheesed and a HUGE portion of chips, and now I just finished having a lovely vegetable lasagna and CUSTARD!!!. I’ve eaten these up in my room, at my lovely table, listening to more lovely music, and finishing Harry Potter (It was wonderful!!). I’ve made myself ginger tea with the things I bought today, am finishing up the custard, will watch an episode of “House” which Shlomit provided me with, and go very happily to bed!