FIRST IMPRESSIONS AFTER TWO YEARS AWAY

September 30, 2015

BLOG 2015 #2 September 30

FIRST IMPRESSIONS AFTER TWO YEARS AWAY

FIRST SUNRISE

FIRST SUNRISE

Insight about when to fly in to Delhi for best travel options.  Arrived with Turkish Airlines at 4:30 AM…ON A SUNDAY MORNING. Flying out of Israel was the easiest yet since it was Shabbat, and the airport was fairly empty.  Check-in was an all time record at only 10 minutes start to finish!  Also, Delhi airport was almost empty so no long lines to wait on and I was out of the airport, including getting my luggage, in less than half an hour

And then driving at that hour, on a Sunday morning, through Delhi, was child’s play…no traffic, no noise….and this continued for the first 2/3 of the journey.  The first 150 km., all on the new Highway, took just under 2 hours!  The last 100 km, through towns and with morning activity already beginning, even though Sunday, took 3 hours.  But still a very reasonable ride. Most of the way we drove at the unheard of speed of 80 kph on the new road which is fabulous. There were times when the speedometer hit 90 and even 100!

NOTE THE SPEED ON THE SPEEDOMETER

NOTE THE SPEED ON THE SPEEDOMETER

By 7:30 I was already sitting down to a breakfast of Aloo Parantha and Masala at Grand Cheetal rest stop.

CHEETAL BREAKFAST

Two Road signs along the way:

SAY NO TO PLASTIC BAGS.  PLASTIC IS NOT TRENDY

CELLULAR O WHEEL WILL BE COSTLY DEAL

….and indeed…you can now ad texting while driving to the already existing hazards of India roads.

SEE VIDEO IN LINK BELOW

TAXI RIDE DELHI TO RISHIKESH

India itself has stayed the same in many ways, and continues to change and grow as well at amazing speed.  WIFI access for example, which only two years began to find its way into restaurants etc., and was very “iffy”, is now almost everywhere, and WORKS beautifully! The prevalence of Western mode of dress, particularly among younger girls and women, is extensive although in the towns along the way, I saw none of it.  But here, in Rishikesh, where there are lots more Indian tourists, not pilgrims, just tourists, all are dressed in Western clothing.  It has become a very popular “get away” for the younger Delhi crowd, as well as families, and I’ve been told that for most of the year, there is actually more income from Indians these days than from Westerners, who have become unreliable as a main source, and also pay much less money for the same services and accommodations than Indians do.

But mainly these are cosmetic changes…new restaurants and guesthouses everywhere I look (and I’ve been out and about very little these first few days as it is very hot…unseasonably so), fancier cars, clothing shops etc., but the essence, the soul of Indian, remains the same.  It is something which never seems to change and it is what brings me here time and again.  I will be writing more about this as the time goes by.

Enough for this first post….next one will quickly sum up my first few days

Namaste

With love light and JOY

Jane


Beautiful Last Evening (and day) in India – Nov 21-22 2012

December 1, 2012

Beautiful Last Evening (and day) in India – Nov 21-22 2012

Last Morning in Rishikesh-Clouds Over the Mountains

Last Morning in Rishikesh-Clouds Over the Mountains

I was invited to Dr. Arora and Manju’s for dinner together with my friend Michal.  I usually spend quite a lot of time visiting with Manju while I am in Rishikesh.  Daytime visits where we just chat and I watch her in the kitchen-best cooking lessons available-and these visits were missing during this short stay.  But at least I would get to spend the evening with her, and I was excited about going.

We wound up spending the evening in prayers, chanting and singing with all the female members of the communal family dwelling (5 sisters-in-law, a couple of THEIR daughters-in-law, a visiting sister of Dr. Arora from Delhi, and even one baby granddaughter).  I couldn’t have found a more suitable, uplifting and beautiful way to spend my last evening in Rishikesh, or better company.  I have no photos, as it seemed neither appropriate nor necessary at the time, but the wonderful pictures will remain in my mind for a very long time.

It seems over 30 years ago, Dr. Arora’s father decided that every Tuesday there should be an evening of Kirtan (sacred chanting) in the family temple situated in the center of the family dwelling, and the women at the time decided they would be the ones to do it.  And to this day, this is precisely what happens every Tuesday evening.

There is nothing that compares with the power, and empowering energies of the prayers of women.  The chanting was done joyfully, sometimes playfully, sometimes with deep serious mindfulness and devotion, but always directed directly towards the deities.  I felt it on a deep soul level and felt myself being swept away with the power of the connection to God felt in the small room.  Since the chanting is repetitive, and the women took turns leading it, I was very often able to join in. And from my years in India, several of the chants I realized I actually knew the words to myself!  This surprised me and of course brought great joy and approving pleasure to the faces  of the women. And of course, clapping along with everyone else was a no brainer, even for me!!  🙂

The visit afterwards with Manju and the Doctor was thoroughly enjoyable as always, with good conversation, seeing the beautiful wedding album from their eldest son’s wedding last year (the daughter in law of course now living there with them) and of course a superb light dinner.  With soup, idlis, subji, shahi paneer (Manju makes the best in India for sure and she always remembers how much I like it and makes it for me when I come), chutney and of course chapattis with ghee . Dr Arora drove us home, quite late…tired but with full stomachs and happy hearts.

Now having my last breakfast here at the Pundir Restaurant after being treated to a wonderful whole wheat chapatti and homemade ghee when I stopped by Seema’s house earlier.

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The sky is cloudy today for the first time in 6 weeks.  I feel “cloudy” myself. Must be raining somewhere up in the mountains to bring the clouds and colder weather today.

Neelkanth Temple in Distance

Neelkanth Temple in Distance

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And somewhere deep inside of me there is a “rainy” feeling as well.

evening clouds

evening clouds

The day continued quietly, with goodbyes to everyone, always difficult, but even more so after such a short stay, and of course packing up my stuff for storage as well as for taking home.  The sky was beautiful to watch during the day and evening,

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and before heading off to Delhi by taxi, I had my last supper of schnitzel and chips!!  🙂

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The ride on the new highway took less than 5 hours….

Sachin provided me with a pillow so I could sleep in the car on the way.  I dozed on and off…and to my great surprise was in delhi in less than 5 hours!!  New road is good for sure.
Found a nice bench in the departure lounge to lay down on for another hour until they opened the RJ check in counter.  They really hassled me about my carry on- it didn’t fit into the “rack” which measures them.  Finally they called the supervisor, and she allowed me to take it.  What a pain in the ass.  The whole thing took over an hour but luckily I was first on line and when I got to the gate, there was even a free bed to lie down on which I did of course.

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Last Sunrise Over Delhi During Take Off

Last Sunrise Over Delhi During Take Off

the flight was fine but it seems the AC as not working….it was really hot on the plane.
Good flight to amman but it is over 7 hours going back.  The plane was not full so there was no one next to me which made it easier to  sleep a little with my legs over the handle of the next seat.
1/2 hour delay in Amman but that meant yosi actually got the airport in time to pick me up.  It was nice.
We went and had a nice breakfast in Yehud and then headed home and got stuck in a HAIL STORM!!  Thought the car windows would crack the pieces were so big!
And then later on in the evening, my house was struck directly by lightning and my phone went dead while talking to yosi.  and my cellphone needed to be charged but I had no electricity, so we couldn’t talk.  It was easier talking to him from India!

And now I am home, a week later, writing this last post!!  I will be posting several more photo posts, and then saying goodbye until next year!  Look forward to seeing you all once again then!

Namaste from Herzlia, Israel


Latest News in Cycle Rickshaws

October 23, 2012

I Just Had to Share This

India: Moving Forward While Standing Still

From an article in yesterday’s newspaper.

 

Namaste from Amazing India


Back in Rishikesh October 9-13 2012 Part 1

October 13, 2012

Sunrise over India

Well, I’ve been here now for just three days but it seems like I’ve been here for a couple of weeks at least.  I am now sitting in my room with Tata Photon+ mobile broadband service stick which my friend is lending to me whenever I want it so that I can use internet in my room.  The wifi services here are not working well enough for me to take advantage of them in my room, so this is a real blessing from him to me.  I am listening to lovely Israeli folkdancing music (which I love), and eating Besan Ladoo…which I also love!!  Heaven on earth.

I honestly haven’t felt like writing since I arrived, but have many things written in bits and pieces in my notebook….hope to eventually get them all up here.  And to my great surprise,  I haven’t taken (hardly) any photos either. But I won’t force anything to “happen”.  Just flowing with things as they go.

Sunrise over India from the taxi window

I arrived in Delhi on Wednesday morning at 4:30, with my friend M.  We were picked up by a taxi which I had ordered previously and began our journey to Rishikesh.  And to my great surprise, it took a long time for me to feel like I was actually in India!  Everything has changed so much over the past year and 8 months.  It took hours before my friend had her first traumatic meeting with Indian culture shock.  She was beginning to become complacent, maybe even bored, but India being India…it will finally find its way to you in all of its glorious, and not so glorious ways!!

what a unique idea!

At the airport there was no initial assault on the senses as there used to be.  We could have been in any lovely airport in any country in the world.  The new terminal has nothing to give you the feeling that you are truly back in India.  My friend was pleasantly surprised, and happy, but I was actually disappointed.  .  Pleased of course that progress is moving things forward, India as always moves ahead while standing still….But I wanted desperately to “feel” India on a gut level, in my soul!

We were taken to our taxi, and to my total astonishment, there was AC working!!   And it worked most of the journey to Rishikesh!  Quite unbelievable.  Not only is it obviously more comfortable during a hot drive, but it keeps all of the dirt and dust out of the car!

I was already told that the new highway is open and running between Delhi and Rishikesh, but had no idea what to expect.  Well, the first 150 KM of the 250 KM journey took under 2 hours, Then we stopped for breakfast and toilet and lovely Cheetal Resort.  When we got back in the car, the driver explained that the highway only continues for another 10 KM and then we are back on the old road for the last 90 KM of the trip to Rishikesh.

So, finally, we would “feel” India!!  The highway is approached through a bypass road from the airport, so we didn’t even get to ride through Old Delhi or New Delhi on our way out of the city.  And all of the hussle-bussle was truly missed by me.

Once off the main highway however India finally “hit” with full force.  I was ecstatic, my friend traumatized.    We were back to the horror and magic that is travel on Indian roads.  (You might remember the previous post- Rules of the Road).

The last 90 KM took well over 3 hours of nerve-wracking driving, noise, smells, near death passes, a cacophony of humanity coming to life in the morning hours.  Just wonderful! But my poor friend!  I think you NEVER forget your first drive on Indian roads.  Just like you never forget childbirth (!).  It finds a place of honor in your soul and stays there forever, but hidden enough to allow you to venture onto the roads again for travel in the future!!

I am going to end this post here so that I can finish it up and post it.  And hope to continue either tomorrow or later today with one more catch up post about our first two days here. They have been a blur of sensory, culinary and physical stimulation…exploring, showing my friend the local sights and also how to find her own way around, eating wonderful food, enjoying the perfect weather, see all my wonderful friends again and just feeling peaceful and tranquil and back home after much too long.

Namaste

Jane


Rishikesh – HERE I COME!

October 8, 2012

Rishikesh-HERE I COME!!

Flying tomorrow evening and will arrive on Wednesday around lunch time (following a 5-7 hour taxi ride from Delhi). Hopefully on Thursday, during my morning walk with my friend M, who will be in India for the first time (!), I will sit down at some point to drink Chai, perhaps at the Buddha Cafe, and enjoy the above scene onces again.  🙂  I look forward to seeing all my wonderful friends in Rishikesh who I have sorely missed over the past year and 8 months…the longest I’ve been away from India in a very long time.

Have been fighting a serious sinus infection the past 2 weeks, including antibiotics the last few days (a rare occurrence for me) and thankfully my fever has finally abated.  Won’t be an easy trip but it will be wonderful to be back…even if I have to continue resting up for another few days once I get there.

Hope to be posting almost daily when I get back to “myself”, and of course, hope you will enjoy and love hearing your comments.

Namaste!

Jane


Road Rules in India-A Guide

September 30, 2012

Note: The following item was extracted from travel section of UK daily newspaper.


Traveling in India is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable – and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous.

Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based on an ancient text. These 12 rules of the Indian road are published for the first time in English.

ARTICLE I
The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.

ARTICLE II
The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to: cows, elephants, heavy trucks, buses, official cars, camels, light trucks, buffalo, Jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles,scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, pedal rickshaws, goats, bicycles (goods- carrying), handcarts, bicycles (passenger-carrying), dogs, pedestrians.

ARTICLE III
All wheeled vehicles shall be driven in accordance with the maxim:to slow is to falter, to brake is to fail, to stop is defeat.
This is the Indian drivers’ mantra.

ARTICLE IV
Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet): Cars (IV,1,a-c): Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, ie in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path. Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, ie to oncoming truck, “I am going too fast to stop, so unless you slow down we shall both die”.

In extreme cases this may be accompanied by flashing of headlights (frantic). Single blast (casual) means “I have seen someone out of India’s 870 million whom I recognize”, “There is a bird in the road (which at this speed could go through my windscreen)” or “I have not blown my horn for several minutes.”

Trucks and buses (IV,2,a): All horn signals have the same meaning, viz, “I have an all-up weight of approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could.”

This signal may be emphasized by the use of headlamps (insouciant). Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above

ARTICLE V
All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until the last possible moment.

ARTICLE VI
In the absence of seat belts (which there is), car occupants shall wear garlands of marigolds. These should be kept fastened at all times.

ARTICLE VII
Rights of way: Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle. Lane discipline (VII,1): All Indian traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the road.

ARTICLE VIII
Roundabouts: India has no roundabouts. Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.

ARTICLE IX
Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake every other moving vehicle, irrespective of whether it has just overtaken you.Overtaking should only be undertaken in suitable conditions, such as in the face of oncoming traffic, on blind bends, at junctions and in the middle of villages/city centres. No more than two inches should be allowed between your vehicle and the one you are passing – and one inch in the case of bicycles or pedestrians.

ARTICLE X
Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash.

ARTICLE XI
Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in India has reverse gear.

ARTICLE XII
The 10th incarnation of God was as an articulated tanker


March 15-17- Journey Home via Delhi

April 3, 2011

March 15-17- Journey Home via Delhi

Driving from rishikesh to delhi by taxi, for the first time in the day time.  In March….

It is hot, the windows are open (no AC), it is dusty, I am dirty, I am sweaty, and the trip despite the new “super highway”, (every type of vehicle known in India can be found on this road and you can see them on the facebook LINK: Aside from the poor condition of most of the roads, these vehicles are probably the main reason why a 250 km journey takes AT LEAST 5 hours and can be as long as 7.  If you hit top speed, about 80 kph, you might travel like that for 5 minutes at a time.  Average speed is between 40-60 kph for most of the journey

vehicles on super highway

is interminable – I am tired.  We just stopped at cheetal (more later or in another post),

Cheetal Rest Stop

but for the first time since arriving in India, I FEEL like I am in India…

I left Rishikesh this morning after saying a sad goodbye to my dear friends here,

Me with Seema and Ashish

but God willing, we will see each other again next year. And then, into a taxi for the journey to another friend’s house in Delhi.

Actually, I am sitting in the taxi trying to make the time pass, and I am connected to the Internet with my netstik!  This is really cool!!   On the one hand, at night, I doze on and off and the time goes by.  On the other hand, traveling during the day, despite it being more difficult, lets me see sights I would not see while traveling at night. As usual, you can see all the photos on the facebook link:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281695&id=547896544&l=14d56f320d
(there will be several different photo links in this post, so check them all out if you feel like it!)

We finally made it to Delhi, and then the driver, despite speaking to my friend on the phone several times, still spent 1 ½ hours being lost!

By the time I got where I had to be, I was beyond tired, hot and dirty!  But arriving here, was like being given an injection of “new life”.

I absolutely cannot describe to you what my friend calls her “farm house”.  It is an enormous estate owned by a billionaire Dutch business family, and it is well beyond anything I could ever imagine. . Twenty two gardeners are needed on a daily basis just to take care of the grounds! I have taken some photos, but know that this will also not give justice to this paradise located in South Delhi, in an area called Dera Mandi.  It could be anywhere in the world, and would still be beyond anything I could describe.

Main House on Estate

Sunset over Estate

I was first given the grand tour of both the vegetable gardens, (see photos on Face book LINK:)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281695&id=547896544&l=14d56f320d

and then the estate,  and then went back to shower and “make myself human” again.  After that, I was given an early dinner (as my hosts did not eat until well after 9 PM and I really had to get to sleep.  I was served a wonderful, simple meal, all directly from the gardens, and am sure I will forget something, but it included first of all, a lovely vegetable salad of sliced veggies, some partially cooked to make them edible (like the potatoes), and others just fresh:  3 kinds of sweet peppers, beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, very tiny potatoes, sweet peas, tomatoes, and more which I don’t remember..;.should have taken a photo but I was too tired by then to care about anything but eating and going to sleep.

I was then served delicious palak paneer (spinach – from the garden and Indian homemade cheese), wonderful dahl full of fresh coriander and fenugreek and parsley, chapattis also made with fresh herbs in the dough and covered in homemade ghee, and a delicious veggie dish of cabbage and sweet peas gently cooked together in ghee.  Rice of course (curiously made in the microwave) …it was sublime.

I went to sleep shortly after and to my surprise slept a full 12 hours!  Luckily I have my earplugs, because if I didn’t, the horrible squawking sounds of the peacocks would have kept me awake all night I think! I guess their beauty ends with their colorful feathers…

Peacock on Estate's Tennis Court

Woke this morning to a warm day, and now sit waiting for my friend to finish work so we can go into delhi for the afternoon.

I was served a breakfast of papaya (from their own trees), fresh coconut milk and the thinnest, most amazing stuffed potato (aloo) parantha I have EVER been served anywhere.

I know this day out in delhi will be exhausting, but it will also be fun being in town with my local friend, rather than as a tourist.  And I will still have time to rest before my flight…I have to be at the airport at 3 in the morning so will be leaving here at 1:30 AM.

More later I guess.

It is now 10 days later, to my dismay, but finally have gotten back to this.  My arrival home precluded my doing anything as “trivial” as blogging, but I am hoping that I will remember everything I wanted to write about the day in Delhi and the trip home.

We left for the city in her SUV vehicle with driver, which was a great luxury as she didn’t have to worry about parking every time we stopped someplace, or she wanted me to look at something along the way. It was also air conditioned and truth be told, was TOO cold for me!!

She lives in South delhi and while driving into the city we past the CChatapurTemple which was amazingly beautiful but closed, so I could only see it from outside.

Chatapur Temple Delhi

Me and Hanuman from Outside the Closed Temple

Hanuman The Monkey God Chatapur Temple Delhi

Vedic Aymbol Chatapur Temple

She finally decided that my first stop, before she did her shopping, would be a local mega mall, which had just opened up a new section which even she hadn’t seen.  She is a shopaholic and her greatest pleasure is “shop until you drop”.  .  IT is really not my thing but I couldn’t disappoint her, gracious hostess that she was (I have one daughter who would LOVE to spend a day with her!!).

Sitting area inside Mall

The changes in India are felt even more so in the cities, and Delhi is THE city to see change.  The cars are one example. Up until a couple of years ago one saw old cars and many many Ambassador cars on the road.  Now you have to really search to find an Ambassador, and the road is full of every type of new car you can imagine…Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus,Honda Civic, BMW, Mercedes, Chevrolet, and assorted chauffered cars where the drivers hold umbrellas open for the madam so the sun won’t get on her face.  The streets are clean, the roads improved, but still congested and Indian “rules of the road” still apply!  The busses are all new, European models, low to the ground for easy access, digital signs proclaiming destinations, AC of course and quite lovely to see.  The bus stops are also clean and neat.  And then everywhere, you see the Metro running.  The stations, at least from my viewpoint below, look beautiful, with large parking lots full of cars.  I have not had the opportunity of riding the metro yet.

The Mall was everything a Mall should be and more, and this was, I was told, the SMALLEST of the malls in Delhi. Please see the next post which will be entirely about my impressions from the Mall. It is worth a separate post and gives further insights into the changing as well as traditional aspects of life in India. But for now you can see photos at this LINK:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281708&id=547896544&l=d212f45e57

We finished there, back to the driver and then my friend took care of her own business.  Some of it personal, some of it as estate manager (which is the reason she lives in her house on the estate!).  To purchase flowers for the main house, we went to the flower market which was beautiful, but many people forbade me from taking pictures of their wares – don’t know why, but THIS PHOTO will give you some idea of how beautiful it was.  You can again, see lots more on the facebook LINK

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281695&id=547896544&l=14d56f320d

View of Flower Market

Back home, again, dinner by myself which was uncomfortable, but necessary so I could sleep for a few hours before leaving for my flight.

Because of this rest, and good food, before flying home, my flight home was probably the easiest I’ve ever had and I really was blessed to be able to do it this way

The new departure lounge is everything a modern international airport should be, and more, but once again, I did not take photos.  If you want to see it, you will have to come to India!!

From the plane I saw my LAST SUNRISE over India for this trip….

Last Sunrise Over India from Plane

I’m going to end this here so that I can begin posting it in the hope that it will finally reach you.

I had thought to write about the Cheetal Rest Stop as well, with it’s amazing flowers which change with the seasons, but I will simply post the photos on facebook as well and let you see for yourself.

Cheetal Flower Photo Link – worth viewing:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281705&id=547896544&l=861eee8adc

Too bad this is now off the main highway, and not easy to reach.  Don’t think I will be making this stop in the future.  It adds a good ½ hour onto the travel time between delhi and rishikesh, and as beautiful as it may be, and as tasty as the food is, and as clean as the toilets are, when I am traveling that many hours, I would prefer not adding that extra time .

It has been a wonderful journey, and being home now, makes me appreciate it even more.  I am happy to be where I am now, but am grateful for the few months of personal time I was so lovingly given.  I am truly blessed!

Namaste

Jane


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