Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shum Shum SPLASH - Janki Chatti/Yamunotri

So happy fourth of July??
As it was put by someone on this trip, “organized chaos” is India. This being said as our taxi driver wove us through traffic and dodged oncoming cars and waited on the edge of a cliff for a jam of buses and jeeps to pass by. We just returned from a weekend at Janki Chatti. It’s crazy to think that I probably will never ever ever return to that place in my life. To get there, it took us eight hours to navigate 130 km around the Himalayan walls over bumpy rocky uneven terrain. We stopped a few times for chai breaks (India Lesson #465: You can’t do anything in India without a chai break) and parantha breaks and a lunch break and a skinny dipping in the Yamuna river break. Well… almost skinny dipping – the eyes of the Indian landscape can even intimidate the extent of my non-modesty. The water in the river was cool and gorgeous. It went shhhhhhhhh splashing over rocks creating white airy caps.
Janki Chatti is a small village, one road winds through it, up up until Yamunotri, Saturday morning we were awoken by someone pounding on our door and providing us with cups of hot chai, before we delighted in a roti breakfast. We hiked 6 km up the path, some of us on horseback. (Two other options were either being carried on a lounge chair-like wooden structure by four men, or curled in the fetal position in basket perched on the back of some poor man.) The path was nestled in between tall green lushy hills, jagged pieces of stained rock jutting out of its side. The aroma of horse shit tingled our nostrils the entire way up, and we avoided it as best we could with our steps. My sweat warmed me against the cooler mountain air. Right before we hit the temple there were tents and tents of chai and samosas and trinkets. THEN –
Natural hot springs, baby. Heck yes. Women and men had their separate respective hot spring; so us ladies were free to splash around with topless Indian women in the boiling water. Hot enough to cook rice. Hot enough to boil your dumplings. Hot enough to make you head dizzy and your brain wispy after ten minutes. The men’s hot spring area was in open air and about three times the size of the women’s, which was hidden in a cave-like damp dark covered room. Steamy steamy steasmy like a thousand tea pots. The Indian woman jumped up and down in the water. Splashing us and smiling with us.
We meandered through the temple and I ended up with a red dot between my brows. Before we walked back down I sat on a stack of rocks by the river and listened to the shhhhhh and wshhhhhhh of the water – an overwhelming sound that isn’t so apparent when the eyes are open.
We are always the center of attention whenever we go places here. A fat group of 43 white children hiking in their rain jackets squeezing by 80 year old women draped in beautiful saris and men with big beards. Staying in Janki Chatti made me feel like a walking neon sign. Regardless of what people think, their eyes can’t help but catch. The picture taking and video taping and purring (yes, we were purred at?) and being asked if I liked to have sex didn’t dampen any part of this adventure, though. The sky is bluer here, I tell you. The clouds are more majestic and milky and soaked with moisture and the hills are more mossy and the stars twinkled free of ambient city lights so that they could show themselves freely. For as many uncomfortable stares, there are curious stares and people that will smile when you sing “namaste”. On Saturday evening before dark, I had some momos and roti and a bittermelon mixture to scoop with the roti underneath the tents of Janki Chatti, on the brown smooth dirt. The tents all have people cooking and eating and washing and sitting; smoke seeping from the spicy food over a fresh fire.
I feel intensely lucky to be having these experiences. Unreal.
Another good quote “it’s like we are walking through National Geographic.”

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