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.

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