Sunday, July 24, 2005

I drank from the Ganga

Right out of the river, it was pretty cool. I figure if the Hindu Gods protect them from water borne illness, my God will keep tabs on me. In Haridwar our hotel was like a woven hut on the bank of the Ganga. It is a religious holiday right now, so thousands of men, and a few women, came to Haridwar from throughout the region. Anytime during this month they will come, stay for a few days in large tent cities and bathe in the Ganga. Then they will carry very ornate yokes with Ganga water back to their homes by foot. Throughout the process the water may never touch the ground, it is holy and will bless their houses and used for medicine and other religious purposes. While in the city the men were very festive; most had a 12-15 day walk ahead of them, but were empowered by the number of other Hindu believers in the city (which was very apparent because they were all clad in bright orange clothing with Shiva markings on them.) There were virtually no other tourists there so our group of five was like a parade. Everybody wanted to talk to us, take pictures with us, and just follow us. The girls, who were by far the most popular, always had at least a dozen men around them. Lee would often yell "Bom, Bom" and the street would just echo back in an uproar of people "Bom Bom Bolay, Bom Bom Bolay, Hare Rade." The people were very excited. In Rishikesh we got to see a candle ceremony that takes place on the river bank at twilight. We sent flower bowls with candles down the river. There was nothing familiar to me, but I could not stop thinking about Shan, it was really moving. At our hotel we coaxed some monkeys onto our balcony with some of Jon's trail mix. At first I fed some banana chips to a male. Then we retreated behind our windows for about 50 minutes while two baby monkeys and their mothers and the male relaxed on our porch. They played in some of Mariah's clothes that were drying. Then Lee went out and was petting them and holding their hands. I have rode an elephant and petted a monkey. Tonight we leave on a train for Amritsar; at least we will not be able to get detoured and have to drive obscene distances at night like our last excursion (that was another story.) For Sia, my flight home is Northwest Airlines landing at 11:30 am on August 1, you can bring my phone from my bedroom bookshelf if you want, you should come hungry because I will be, and be early because I will give the pilot a little Baukshish to expidite the flight (that is how we work in India.) Shout out to Mom, Sia, Yari, The Fam, the gang, the office, C-Woo and all our new freshmen who are coming, DHC, Mat and Joe.


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