Day one. Suspension of many kinds.

“Travel often. Getting lost will enable you to find yourself” – (I don’t remember who)

I just rode across a pedestrian-only suspended bridge over the sacred Ganges River in the back of a broken down scooter driven by a man I paid 400 roopies for the ride to a hotel because I had to get out of the taxi I took from Ardiwar because the taxi driver had enough English to insist “You, me, Rishikesh, Love? (suggestive look)”, to which I answered without fault “No. You, drive. Me Rishikesh”. And that’s just the last hour. This one hour internet cafe I fear is NOT going to hack it for my storytelling needs! My life is FUN! 🙂
[copied from Facebook status – sorry for the redundancy]

This is a synopsis of the past however many hours since I left Bellingham Tuesday evening.

Ana and I went for Indian food at Chutney’s, a restaurant that delivers consistently amazingly delicious food and Tuesday was no exception. When Bill, the owner, discovered I was going to India, alone, with no reservations, and no plan, it was all he could do not to faint. A few phone calls later and I was no longer landing alone, with no plan and no reservations. His long time friends Ajan and Anita picked me up at the airport at 1 am, took me home, made me tea, changed my money, and got me all booked and loaded on the “completely full, no more seats” train to Ardiwar. I know how it works, that business of expecting miracles which makes them come true, but still, I get awed at my own good luck sometimes.

I also firmly believe in miracles as I have witnessed several today. Here is one: When passing a cow, two bicycles, a handful of school children, 3 motorcycles and a blue rickshaw taxi on a 1.5 lane bridge with a highly decorated truck coming full speed in the oncoming traffic lane (however loosely that term is defined around here), simply honking your horn will result in you not dying, even if you are talking on your cell phone and checking out you passenger with one eye while doing this. Miracle! I see no other explanation. How crazy do they drive? They drive crazy enough to scare a Yemeni, for those of you who will relate. They drive so crazy that India should not be so populated. They drive so crazy that I laughed in the taxi, a full-belly “I might as well die laughing since this is apparently how I go” laugh [I can think of worse ways].

If two hours ago you’d have told me I’d ever consider getting on the back of a scooter I would have called you crazy. But there are two hotels with the same name, and this is the foot of the Himalayas and I WALKED to the first one with my book-loaded 75 Lbs backpack … but, I don’t want to tell you this story. There are so many ones I have accumulated in just a day in India.

In Ardiwar, a naked man painted completely white, with dread locks and sacred-looking jewelry gave me a dirty look and blew me a raspberry.

I ate a couple of samosas cooked over a fire fueled by cow dung which was incredibly delicious and spicy and cost me 7 cents.

I saw unstoppable traffic get stopped because a cow crossed the road (why DID the cow cross the road? …)

I saw the slums of Delhi, and they were unlike anything I have ever seen before. I have seen poverty, but the train ride out of Delhi expanded my definition of that word to a whole new realms.

The country side is lovely. And civilized people in first class get served tea at regular interval, lest they forget they were once ruled by the British (the man next to me here is watching cricket on TV)

I met a nice physics professor who spoke very good English. He said “I was born and raised in Rishikesh (the capital of yoga), left when I was 25 years old, but I have never tried yoga. But here you are, coming from so far for it. Maybe I should try it sometimes”.

At the train station, if you go past all the homeless people sleeping on the floor or begging or asking you if they can help you with taxis or anything, you get to a place called the “clock room”. For a few roopies you can check your coat at the clock room and meander without 75 Lbs on your back. Across the street, some hotel advertizes “Cloak room” … ahhhh. Yes, that makes more sense. I was wondering why they check their clocks.

I saw the Ganges River 8 times today. Down by Delhi it’s an infamy. Up here by Rishikesh, it still looks like a big mountain spring. Half way between the two, I saw several man defecate in tributaries, people washing clothes, taking naked baths, sunbathing on rocks by it. I think I will love this river as much as the Mighty Mississippi and the Yukon River. Magical places.

Oh, and I saw a 20 foot tall status of Shiva by the Ganges. And narrow streets that reminded me of the old town in Yemen, except some kid went color-crazy and painted the whole scene with bright colors, especially orange. My Hippy vest makes me look like a local. That was unintentional.

This is not very coherent of a post, sorry, but I’ve only had two hours of sleep since I left Seattle and I’m a little … suspended. I think ‘suspended’ describes best how I feel right now. Awed, delighted, appalled, overwhelmed, psyched and everything in between. Suspended in my own expectations, even thought I thought I had none. Suspended from reality. Suspended on a cloud of mind-boggling adventures.

Times almost up.

Looks I’ll have things to share on this website after all. Holy Cow!

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