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February 11, 2005

Rishikesh = Peace?

While Rishikesh is a pretty cool, laidback place, there's no denying that I'm still in India! I can walk down a fairly rural-feeling road to the Ganges without getting hassled too much, but there are still rickshaw drivers who try to pull scams and cow shit in the streets and terrible Internet connections and poor people, except now they include sadhus, or holy men, whose place in this world I don't really understand, and I don't know how to react when they ask me for things--they can be as persistent as lay-beggars.

But, the place I'm staying is nice and mellow, situated on a hill high above the Ganges and the (relative) busy-ness of town. The restaurant here is great, and there's also Internet and yoga nearby, so I don't really have to enter the real world if I don't want to, and tomorrow I plan not to! I've taken a few yoga/meditation classes and attended a few lectures by a swami (a step below a guru or something like that) at an ashram (place where people live, study yoga, follow a guru, etc.), and it's all been very interesting, but none of it has felt perfect for me and it's just made me busy and on too strict a schedule, so for the next two days I'm not planning to do much of anything except read, write, meditate/do yoga on my own, and maybe take a walk down by the river. Oh, and get a massage--two people have raved about the same place, where an Ayurvedic massage is about $8. It's been overcast and sometimes rainy here, but not as cold as I had expected.

The best thing, I guess, is that everyone seems so happy to be in Rishikesh. Most came here either just after arriving in India or they came seeking a respite from what they've experienced elsewhere in this country, and especially the latter group, I think, is relieved to find there really is a place to escape. Some are here for weeks or months seeking a spiritual path, others are just chilling out. Strangely, I've met more Americans in the past 4 days (here and in Jaipur) than I did in the entire rest of my time in India, so that's been kind of comforting as well.

I'll be headed to Delhi on Monday, then off to Bangkok on Thursday. I will have to brace myself a bit for the return to big-city chaos, although at this point Bangkok feels almost like going home--hope I'm not sorely mistaken!

Posted by Amy on February 11, 2005 03:02 AM
Category: India

oh, and I should mention that this is the Yoga Capital of the World, not just India, according to Lonely Planet, and it's also where the Beatles came to see their guru in the 60s. And the Ganges is actually pretty clear here! This is near the source and an important pilgrimage site.

Posted by: amy on February 11, 2005 11:02 PM
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