Nov. 27, 2008 – Tour Guide, Family Dinner and More Insights into Indian Life and My Eyesight!
Still sitting up on the rooftop terrace. The People in the next room just finished eating and left some dishes with some scraps on the table. The place is now filled with birds, getting ready to roost for the night…and picking up some tidbits along the way, make an enormous amount of racket about it…crows, and what I think are magpies, but I’m not sure…but it is fun to watch them and hear them and hear them squawking away.
So, my friend’s visit. This is the guy I met during my first trip to India, from Chennai, and whose family I staying with during my 2nd trip, for 5 weeks, in Chennai in the south of India. But now things were reversed, and I became his tour guide for rihiskesh. Although he speaks Hindi, it is never easy to be a tourist in a new place, and we had two really lovely days walking around, seeing the sights, the ahiva aarti which he enjoyed so much we went two days in a row. And for the first time he explained to me the meaning of the various chants, so it had even more meaning for me. You can also look above at the VIDEO tab and see a nice video I took of this puja last year…
In addition, I got to eat in a Dhaba, which is like a worker’s restaurant. Cheap , simple, fresh and delicious real Indian food. I always thought it would be too spicey for me, but figured I would try something simple just to keep Ravin company. So the first day, we had thali, and to my great surprise, except for the subji (cooked vegetables), everything else was fine, and even the subji, when smothered in curd, became quite edible. It was a delicious meal, ending with chai. A full, delicious, authentic, homemade meal, completely satisfying, and costing only 40 rupees. I saw lots of other things on the menu and decided I’d eat there again. As a matter of fact, the next morning we went down for breakfast, and I had my first taste of the delicious paranthas mentioned in the previous post. I will be eating there as often as possible. It is a little walk from where I live, but not so terrible as to be a problem.
Yesterday I was invited to dinner by Dr. Arora’s wife, Manju, the lovely lady who
does the wonderful massages. Me, Einat and two other girls doing panchakarma. Einat and I arrived first, and were greeted by Manju, who explained that we would be waiting for the doctor to come home, and he was also picking up the other two girls. Which meant we had about a 1 ½ wait, but the time went quickly. We had chai (of course) and then were given a full explanation of the household, which is still a typical extended Indian family setup, a system which is slowly dying out. Dr. Arora is one of 8 brothers, 5 of them living with their families (one even having a married daughter and grandson also living in the family compound in Rishikesh. It has a courtyard which you come into from the street through a private entrance but once inside, there is nothing private about it. At the center is a small temple for worshipping, and the Mother, who has a total of 11 children, sits in the center of the courtyard keeping watch all day. She is in her 80’s but still alert, although not very physically healthy. And then there is simply one long side of the courtyard with rooms running off it, each family being designated one, two or three rooms depending on their need. The Doctor and his wife raised two sons in just one room, but now, as senior members of the family with one son still at home at the age of 23, have 3 rooms. A sitting room which seems to double as the son’s bedroom, their own bedroom and their own kitchen (In the past, all 5 sisters-in-law shared a common kitchen). The also have their own, quite modern bathroom. The dining room table where they eat, is outside in the courtyard off their rooms. However, the rooms are not connected to each other WITHIN the house, but are entered by coming out into the main courtyard and then going into the next room. The kitchen is across “the hall”, with the dining table near it. There is absolutely no privacy, as people are always coming and going into their own various rooms and all is open for everyone to see. The children all grew up together, which can be lovely, but there is the constant comparing and criticism of parenting methods etc.
We then spent a long time looking at family picture albums, which actually was quite lovely, hearing about their arranged marriage and how they saw each other one time for 10 minutes before they got married, how respect and love are learnt and worked out and how family responsibility weighs heavily in the success of a marriage. They seem to be a very happy and loving couple, as I think you can see in the pictures I took yesterday.
We had a lovely dinner, with very simple but delicious, and healthy Indian food, from soup to dessert with lovely main course in the middle. We sat and talked until quite late and finally, close to 11, Dr. Arora drove us all home. It was one of the loveliest visits I’ve had with any Indian family in all the years I’ve been here. These people are well – to – do. They travel, including abroad etc., but live a extremely simple lifestyle. Humble in all aspects. We could learn a lot from them.
And now to the story of my eyesight!! For the last few days, I’ve been concerned about my vision, as I was having trouble seeing at a distance, and I have new glasses, not more than 8 months old with new distance prescription in my multifocal lenses. On the way to Dr. Arora’s house, I even mentioned to Einat that I wasn’t’ see well and needed to hold onto her tightly. Well, while sitting at their table, eating, (remember, it is outside in the courtyard), one of his brother’s came home and he introduced us to him from afar. I looked up and just saw a blur, and for some reason removed my glasses to rub my eyes I guess, and to my great surprise, I saw perfectly WITHOUT the glasses. I rubbed my eyes again, put the glasses on, looked around, took them off, not believing my eyes. And everyone saw I was acting strangely, so I told the doctor what had just happened. I asked if panchakarma could possibly have such a profound effect and he said it is possible. It strengthens the muscles all over the body, so why not the eyes? And if I continue the nightly routine I mentioned in an earlier post, it should keep the improvement permanently. Just to be sure, when I got back to my room, I tried on my spare glasses (with a much smaller distance prescription), and to my surprise, saw much better in those (for distance at least…not for close work).
So, tomorrow I will go to the optometrist recommended by Dr. Arora, to see if I can get reading glasses and good sunglasses, and will stop walking around with my glasses on. I obviously still need them for computer work, but not at all for walking around. I find this absolutely astonishing!
And that’s it for today