January 23, 2010 – Last Couple of Weeks

January 23, 2010

January 23, 2010 – Last Couple of Weeks
As I only have a couple of weeks left, I was really beginning to feel “cheated” by the cold, foggy, very unusual weather Rishikesh has been experiencing the past month or so. To my great surprise, I arose to a beautiful, clear, crisp, sunny day this morning and have been enjoying this wonderful change since 8:30 when the sun first rose. It is now 4:30 in the afternoon and I’m still outdoors, now on my rooftop, continuing to take in every drop of this wonderful warmth with gratitude and appreciation.
I did more walking today than I have done in along time, finished up some things I had to do, found myself in restaurants I haven’t gotten to in some time, and in general just flowed with the energies of this lovely day. Everywhere I went people were smiling and happy, and although still cooler than normal for this time of year, the sunshine is a true tonic for the soul.
I haven’t done much writing lately as I’ve not felt the need to, and will probably finish some of the things I’ve began when I get home in a couple of weeks. Especially my impressions of the Kumbh Mela so far, which has been disappointing, not just for me, but for the local people as well.
I am attaching here just a couple of pictures of my farewell lunch out with Pat and the Arora’s and the girls. I’ve since had a farewell lunch with Eli, but no picture, and with Katheryn, but again no picture. I’m just too lazy to carry around my camera, but it’s been fun having farewell meals with so many lovely people who have left, or will be leaving soon…and of course I will be one of those going as well in a fairly short time.


January 22, 2010

Just some cute pictures of monkeys sitting along the main road watching the people go by. They seem to enjoy people watching as much as I do. The younger ones would tease the cow every so often. And there were those just waiting for some nice person to toss them something to eat, which invariably does happen. The more aggressive Rhesus monkeys don’t wait. When they see someone carrying a bag which looks interesting, they just walk up and grab it! These more gentle lemurs, wait patiently and are always rewarded.

Mamma and Baby

Teasing Cow

how do I open this bag of peanuts

Look at all those People Walking By

Who is looking at Who?

thanks for the snacks

hmmm...this is good

hey, I want some too!

January 13, 2010 – A Lovely Rainy Morning

January 13, 2010

January 13, 2010 – A Lovely Rainy Morning

I woke up this morning to the patter of rain, the first real rain since I arrived here 3 months ago…and definitely better late than never. I’m sure this rain will finally clear the air and the sun will return to glorious blue skies once again. When I first woke there was no electricity and that put a damper on my spirits, so I just dressed up really warm and began my “morning stuff” snug as a bug in a rug without getting out of bed. By the time I finished, the electricity was back on, the water was working, and I knew that at least for now I would be nice and warm and comfy. Having both electricity AND hot water, may seem like nothing special to YOU, but believe me, it is not something I ever take for granted here and am most grateful. It means I can not only use my heater, but also fill up my hot water bottle! These are all big comforts here, especially on a day like today.
So, what do I do with my day? First of all, I am most grateful for the past three days in which I did many of the things I needed to do before Kumbh Mela begins tomorrow. I simply decided that this would be a day to just hang around and relax and do things at home for a change. (I had already decided to relax today, but before waking to the sound of the rain, was already thinking of where I would GO today!!).
First question was, what to eat? Don’t have much in my room but actually have the fixings for three meals. Porridge for breakfast, kitcheri for lunch and pasta for dinner. Now, if my gas cylinder has enough gas left for these three meals, it will be a perfect day! Electricity, water AND cooking gas, all when needed! (My gas cylinder is pretty much empty and don’t plan to fill it for just the next few weeks, so am just using it until it is completely empty.)\
Put on lots of warm layers, made a bowl of porridge, and then decided that today would also be a MUSIC day. I usually listen to music while doing other things, but on those days when I decide to be with the music mindfully, not doing anyting but listening, it is really lovely. (WOW…it is really pouring cats and dogs now…beautiful!).
I have an enormous selection of music, and for some reason was drawn to my Musicals, and am now contentedly listening to “Camelot”, and remembering all of the lyrics to deeply expressive love songs in this soundtrack. Once I finish this post, I will REALLY listen to it, mindfully, to get everything out of it that it has to offer.
And then see what follows…
I have plenty to read, plenty to write and movies to watch, games to play…it should be a fun day….electricity went off now but already had enough hot water for a hot water bottle which will last for several hours. Perhaps by then the power will come back one! (It did…10 minutes later…guess this will go on all day..fine)
And now back to previous posts which have been waiting a couple of days to be written.

January 12, 2009 – Day in the Market and Visiting my Friend in Town and Tightened Security Measures

January 13, 2010

January 12, 2009 – Day in the Market and Visiting my Friend in Town and Tightened Security Measures

Decided to go down to the market today to take care of some things I needed to do. Print up some pictures to give to Devi after my visit to her house, and my cordless mouse stopped working so went to get a replacement. I was delightfully surprised to find that the files I brought into the photo lab would processed immediately…everything is computerized and I waited just 5 minutes for my photos. Good quality as well. I had to order the mouse and it will arrive next week. I also found some lipsticks but was too cold to buy shoes…couldn’t bare taking off my shoes and socks. Went down to the ghat for awhile and also found that they have wonderful clean toilets for public use there. Always an important discovery.
Finally went to visit Manju, Dr. Arora’s wife. She was preparing lunch and so I also took the opportunity to learn a few other cooking tips. She is the best cook I’ve met so far in India….her food is really tasty without being overly spiced. While waiting for the doctor to get home for lunch, we spent some time with his 88 year old mother…she can no longer get around by herself and has her good days and bad days. Today was a good day and she was her regular delightfully happy self. I don’t understand one word she says but we sat there laughing and enjoying each other’s company. She asked me things and I answered something completely irrelevant. Manju was hysterical with laughter and at one point my jaw began to hurt from smiling and laughing. Then she wanted to have her bed moved, so I went to help lift her under the arm from one side with manju on the other side. As I was doing my best (she is a VERY big woman), her comment was “you must be hungry…go eat first then you will have strength to lift me…too skinny!”. Manju almost dropped her she was laughing so hard.
We then had lunch, which was simple but delicious as always and then Manju took me out to get some things which I found difficult to choose myself. Especially a chapatti pan (tawa). We went to several shops until we found one that both of us were satisfied with for different reasons, I purchased it and also checked out other kitchen ware with her to determine quality and price in case I decide to buy and ship home later. Particularly pressure cookers. They are 4 to 8 times (!) more expensive at home, even considering the cost of postage! I just don’t feel like sending any more parcels, but think this would be a good cost effective purchase in the end.
Anyway, Dr. Arora by then had to go back to the clinic. Devi and Laxshmi showed up at the house as well, after also going window shopping in the market during the afternoon break, and they also ate a quick lunch. Was driven home by the doctor and then showed my purchases to Seema, who also agreed that the chapatti pan was excellent quality and good price.
Was met at my room by Eli and we spent some time together as well, and then she went off to do her stuff and me to my evening. And then there was a knock on my door. It was Udai, the manager, very apologetically asking for my help. Seems the security forces were really working hard before the Kumbh Mela as they are really afraid of terrorism this year. Checking out all the guesthouses. Now, you may remember I went to Varanassi for a few days in November, but kept my room here and when I came back they didn’t check me in again, as they had never checked me out! Seems the security officer saw my passport number and compared it to some list, and found that I was listed as being in Varanassi when I was also listed as being here! Never thought this was ever me in any of the books here….so he came up to get my passport, wrote up a check-in slip for me as if I arrived today, and said oif they came up to ask me just tell them I arrived today! What if they asked where I was before today? He said don’t worry…it’s been taken care of !(whatever that means). Interesting to say the least.
Never boring in India….

Just Another Day in Rishikesh – A Day for Animal Adventures

January 13, 2010

Just Another Day in Rishikesh – A Day for Animal Adventures

I don’t usually manage to get pictures of the birds who frequent the rooftop here, but I did have luck this morning…this crow, shortly afterwards, actually grabbed hold of a metal serving dish containing butter which was on the breakfast table of my next door neighbor, and flew off with it!

Shortly after, I heard a commotion on the rooftop including banging on my door, and went to look and see what was going on. Good thing I did. I always leave my shoes outside of my room and have never had a problem. This morning, I saw two dogs, playing with each other, chasing each other, and each had one of my shoes it his mouth!! I quickly opened my door and retrieved my shoes. Good thing I was home when this happened. My shoes now are kept right INSIDE my door!!
And then I went down for breakfast, and after finishing my meal, was sitting at the table with the newspaper wide open, covering the empty dish. I was concentrating on something I was reading and all of a sudden felt like I was being watched. Looked up, and sitting right opposite me at the table was a monkey! Staring at me…not moving…I began chasing it but it didn’t move and so finally I began to move back with my chair and calling the guys from the kitchen. As they ran out, the monkey sensed its opportunity and quickly grabbed the entire sugar bowl from under the newspaper and ran off with it, the guys chasing it! It was really funny to see. The waiter told me that 2 weeks ago they had 6 sugar bowls, this morning they had one, and now they have none!!

This is India!!

January 11, 2010 – Shopping and Going Out to Eat with a Friend

January 13, 2010

January 11, 2010 – Shopping and Going Out to Eat with a Friend

Woke up this morning knowing I was going to meet Pat for lunch at the lovely Italian restaurant, and wondered what to do with the rest of the morning before meeting her. And a little voice came and said to me “today is shopping day for YOU!”. Well, that sounded nice…until now I’ve done lots of shopping, more than I should have actually, for my family..and sooooooo enjoyed it. But I’ve been wanting to get some special things for myself as well, and kept putting it off because I HATE shopping…especially trying on clothes…but it is the only way to buy them. So I dressed in less clothing than I normally would for the weather, so as not to have so much to take off, and headed off to my favorite shop here – one that sells seconds which are stitched in India for shops all over Europe…many still have their original price tags in them so you really know what wonderful bargains you are getting. I spent over 1 hour trying on things, and came out with two dresses and 5 tops, for less than I would have paid for maybe one piece of clothing back home. I was really pleased with the day, and then headed off to meet my friend. We planned to meet at one place since she did not know where the restaurant was. I was a little early, and she a little late, but waiting is never a problem in India. People watching is one of my favorite pastimes here. And I was standing so long in this one spot (about 20 minutes), that people began watching me as well. And finally groups, finally arriving back in Rishikesh in time for Kumbh Mela (it’s been very quiet here the past 3 weeks), got up the courage to ask to have their pictures taken with me. I was photographed at least 6-7 times and it was really funny, with all of us laughing and joking. Pat finally turned up and off we went for a beautiful lunch. The food once again was perfect…I tasted Pat’s choices as well, especially an amazing cream of pumpkin soup. And I could not resist dessert and ordered panna cotta which was recommended by other friends. But when it arrived, Pat said she would not share with me and there was no way I could eat it alone. I took one spoonful and could not stop “moaning” with pleasure. I saw 4 women at the next table watching me with big smiles on their faces, and I finally just asked them if they’d like ½ as I definitely would not eat it all, and happily gave them half of it. Together with cappuccino, it was the end to a perfect meal.

January 10, 2010 – Visit to a Friend and the Spice of Love

January 11, 2010

January 10, 2010 – Visit to a Friend and the Spice of Love

Sun Seen from Behind the Fog

This morning dawned with the sun making an valiant effort to shine through the fog (and finally managing by about 12 this afternoon for several hours at least)

Foggy Sun of the Morning

And so it was colder again, but not nearly as cold as last week.

Doing Its Best to Shine Through

I had promised to visit Devi, one of the massage girls who’s story you might remember from last year…very poor family but lovely people and always nice to visit (if not somewhat difficult due to a language problem). So this morning a went first for breakfast and had another “cooking class” as Lalita, due to her health issues, cannot work and so she has asked her brother, a chef with 10 years experience to come help her out. Well, he made the most delicious parantha (she SAID he makes much better ones than she does when I first ordered it and worried that she would not be making it)…and so I asked if he could show me how he stuffs them, since mine always “leak” all over the place when I roll them out. So he did!. It seemed so simple when he did it and I will try his technique as soon as I get home.
I then spent some time at the internet and finally met Devi when she finished work at 1. (Sunday the clinic is only opened ½ day). And to my lovely surprise, Laxshmi was also coming (her kids went with grandma to a beach outside of Calcutta for the three week winter school vacation so she is really having a holiday!), and the also said that my lovely new friend Eli would also be coming and would meet us at ram jhula.
So we set off and from that moment, until Eli and I left 3 hours later, none of us stopped laughing! It was really lovely. We arrived to find a new Read the rest of this entry »

January 9, 2010 – Back to Nature and the Music of Water

January 10, 2010

January 9, 2010 – Back to Nature and the Music of Water

Waking up this morning I had to choose what I would do today…the choices were many: Go to the market to do some shopping and visit my friend Manju, go for a walk down laxshman jhula and back up through ram jhula, go aback to sit by the ganga, go to the waterfall, go walking up through and past the village. During my meditation the answer came through crystal clear and I not only knew that I would be walking up the mountain through the village, but also exactly what I would wear and what I would carry. Had a breakfast of masala chai and paneer parantha up on my terrace, got dressed and headed off. The weather was beautiful, (although it has now gotten a little hazy at 4 in the afternoon), and began walking across the gorge and up to the village. One thing I noticed immediately is that I always had a fear of stray dogs. I actually love dogs, but only those I know personally…all others I’ve always had an irrational fear of and this has been a reason for me not doing many things in the past-like riding my bike around town where I live, walking through neighborhoods where I know dogs roam freely etc. And as soon as I got near the village, dogs began barking, some ferociously, and there was absolutely no fear in me. I simply walked past, sometimes stopping to say hello to the barking dog or staring directly at him, and then walking on. None of them ever followed me. It was quite amazing and very different from my experiences in the past.
Walking up through the village, was initially similar to the walks there last year which you can read about and see pictures of here: Link to Village Walk Post).
But there were new things to see…especially new houses which were being built last year and were now complete

Compare these with this typical village house and you can see the new middle class of India moving up, even in the villages:

This year I decided to take more videos to capture the sounds along the walk…for the entire 1 ½ hours I was walking Read the rest of this entry »

January 8, 2010 – Samosas and Sunsets

January 9, 2010

January 8, 2010 – Samosas and Sunsets

It is once again Friday evening and almost time to light Shabbat candles.  I sit out on my rooftop with the last remains of the week slipping away into the colors of sunset.  It is still comfortable enough outdoors to sit comfortably with a shawl and it is already 6 in the evening.  The days are getting noticeably longer and the warmth of the daytime remains longer than it did even a week ago. I haven’t had to light my heater at all for the past two days and I had been using it for hours each morning and evening for the past few weeks.  I am enjoying music, the colors of nature,

and recalling my lovely day which included, finally, my cooking class.

The class was pleasant, and of course the Ganga view inspiring It was just like sitting in a friend’s kitchen (actually, I WAS sitting in a friend’s kitchen), and watching the techniques she uses to make different dishes.  And of course at the end, I got to eat Read the rest of this entry »

January 7, 2010 – Back to the Simple Pleasures

January 8, 2010

January 7, 2010 – Back to the Simple Pleasures

Finally back to the simple pleasures which make my life in Rishikesh so rich. Beautiful sunny morning to accompany my morning practice and despite the cool air, the sun warms me through to my bones.
And I now sit at my favorite Ganga restaurant (by the way, the picture above was not taken today as I did not have my camera with me, but had it from last year…and the weirdest thing is that it was taken EXACTLY one year ago, on January 7th, 2009 at 10:30 in the morning…which is exactly the day and time I sit writing this!). Ihavebn’t been here in more than 6 weeks and I am now having my favorite breakfast of paneer parantha and masala chai (both of which are really well done here), and not only seeing the Ganga stretched out below as you can see in the above picture, but hearing its voice, as this is the only place that is situated right along the curve of the rapids, and the sound is pure, magical music for body and soul.
So many blessings in s omany small things!
After sitting there for quite some time, I made my way down to the shop which is preparing my second parcel for me, after my friend brought all the stuff down yesterday afternoon. Finished that up and then the weather being so absolutely beautiful, knew I had to just do some walking. By that time it had really warmed up and I had to remove several layers of clothing, and for a good part of the day, was still too warm. So I headed across the bridge, and then instead of heading right as I usually do, turned left and quickly found myself walking along a tree lined road, with several cars and bikes going past, but basically on my own. Even found trees I had seen my first visit to Rishikesh and which gave me loving messages then (here is a link to that post if you’d like to read it):

I’ve looked for them before and did not find them, but today they found me again! I kept walking and was rewarded with a small sand path leading off the main road at a place where I could here the Ganga rapids singing below. Followed the path down not really knowing where it lead and was rewarded with a beautiful stretch of solitary beach with my choice of places to sit, either in the shade or sun. I first chose shade to cool off from the walk, and perched on a huge boulder, sitting on the bag which had my extra clothing in it, and was a very comfortable pillow! Did my mantra chanting and some meditation, but after awhile began to feel the need for sun again, so moved down right along the shore and found another perfect boulder to sit on, with the sun pouring down on my back and perfectly warming me. I sat for at least 1 ½ hours like that, taking a quick dip with my feet and wetting my face and head, but not daring enough for more. It was just a perfect setting and a perfect way to enjoy the perfect day.
I headed back up to return home, had a light lunch of soup and sandwich on the way up, and came home to enjoy another full 1 ½ hours of sunshine on my rooftop. I am still outside, and even though the sun has already gone down, it is still warm enough to sit up here without winter coat and shawls.
There is a film crew here from Delhi filming for some bollywood movie up on the higher terrace at the guesthouse, and this of course is interesting to watch as well.
Later on, my friend will come up and we will watch a movie together, which is always pleasant. I enjoy watching alone, but enjoy even more when I can share with a friend.
And that is my day.
Tomorrow I am supposed to have my cooking class, so should have some interesting things to write about as well.

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