Sunday, July 11, 2010

R. Kesh – do you mind if I call you that?

Just had a beautiful drive home after a short long weekend in Rishikesh. Two days is not enough time to experience anywhere, but I am tired nonetheless. The drive home was lovely; we trekked through many a landscape. The sun was golden and gasping through purple clouds bathing the dusty road in golden yolk. As we made our way up the hill to Mussoorie the fog swept in and carried away the humidity. And now we are left with trees caked by the gray mist and again bombarded by the scraping pounding speaking tapping sounds of the kitchen, which is nearby the room we are staying in here at Dev Dar – have I mentioned this place before? It’s a ‘hotel’ – but I would consider it more a room&board hostel. We take our cold showers from a bucket. Tasty.

So Rishikesh. White hippie HAVEN, damnit. It wasn’t teeming with tourists the same way a big city would be, really, but I just saw an inordinate amount of white travelers curious about practicing yoga. Half-expected to see someone I knew strolling out of an Ashram. It is definitely a safe place to travel if you are a girl in India – for the first time I wore a tank top and didn’t feel uncomfortably stared at (just the normal stared at. The stared at where we get people pointing their camera phones over their shoulders in a not at all nonchalant attempt to capture our ever so interesting white faces. The dead pan stares. The people asking to take a picture with us. The video cameras.) We stayed in an Ashram on the Ganges. The brown Ganges. The swirling Ganges. The rapid water stirring up the fine dusty sand into its current. Cool to the feet.

On Saturday night we watched some sort of Hindu Ceremony on one of the river banks. One of the most amazing parts was the music that accompanied the ceremony, the entire way through. The drums, the accordion-like miniature organ thing, the singing voices sailing over one another in a rhythmic harmony. We had prime sitting spots, in my opinion, on some marble steps mere meters from the musicians. At my feet were young males dressed in the orange Sadhu dress. (Like alter boys! Except… not quite Catholic.) They clapped and sang along with the music – devotion! In front of us the Ganges sailed and a large tall large robust tall statue of Vishnu sat atop a marble platform protruding from the river. Just tickles me that all those people can be gathered to believe in something, together, on the banks of a holy river.

That morning I also had the pleasure of taking my first yoga class in India. Amazingly, YTTP isn’t really that far off from the source – the people here just don’t call it ‘superman/woman’ or ‘bicycle crunches’. And instead of being taught by a beautifully powerful Swedish woman, I was taught by a flexible stick man dressed in white, greasy wavy hair, and his VOICE – luscious. Can I say that? Yes.
“Full relax full relax”
“Breath in good energy. Breath out bad energy. Down past your naval…”
And then an “Om” at the end that could challenge a singing bowl. It’s amazing to think that this religious man who fasts and has a dot between his brows does yoga for spiritual purposes. Moving and stretching and shaking out his ankles and building back muscles and sitting in invisible chairs and wrapping limbs.... and through this practice comes spiritual living.

Today – banana honey crepes and chai for breakfast.
Today – walk/hike to mini waterfall. Stood under its jutting spraying cool water. Coated me with ice. It’s so humid here, though, that becoming drenched in a waterfall’s locks while completely clothed is the utmost relief you can feel from the hugging air.

India you are a magical maze of beauty. Curling your lips up at the corners; amused at our curious travels.

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