Saturday, 3 November 2012

Saturday - Sadhu's, free lunch, Ganga Friends and new food!

So, got a bit of catching up to do here. So I'm just going to write about the important things that have happened over the last couple days...

Sat 3rd Nov:
Woke up after a terrible nights sleep - my bed did in fact turn out to be way too hard, and the dogs around this area have a habit of having a party at around 3-4am in the morning! grrrrr Had breakfast, Coconut porridge - amazing - and then decided to walk down to Lakshman Jhula and also check out neighbouring Swarg Ashram district. I also went to check out a couple of other guesthouses to see about changing rooms, though most in Lakshman Jhula are dirty and noisy, so I decided later I'd check out one I heard about which was behind mine and was supposed to be cheaper and better!

So walking across the bridge was an experience, me and a german girl got set upon by a little baby monkey, after the initial shock it was nice to observe them all just jumping and climbing all around you. There's two main temple's in Lakshman Jhula but I didn't venture into them today. I instead just walked around, did a bit of shopping (got some bangles, bindi paint and some more harems), went to a cafe for a drink and then walked the 15min down to Swarg Ashram area, which is where all the ashrams and sadhu's are. There's no traffic allowed there so it's quite nice when there's not too much of a crowd.

Along my walk I got a little too close to a cow with horns who decided to butt me, a guy walking next to me helped out thank god and now I'm a little scared of them (they seem to love blocking your way and jumping out when you least expect it!). 

I also saw some more monkey's. I went and walked around a little of Parmarth0Niketan Ashram which was open to visitors as it was world peace weekend. It has a beautiful courtyard and it's own ghat on the Ganges where the evening Ganga Aarti takes place (floating candle ceremony and prayers). I then took a walk back to Lakshman Jhula to go and have some lunch. Along the way I was befriended by Kayan the Sadhu (Sadhu's are men who lead the holy life - meditation, seclusion, indian natural medicine etc), he started talking to me by giving me a weird looking fruit to eat - it was actually very nice! 

He then said he would take me to a local restaurant for lunch. So we went to Rain River Restaurant and he ordered Aloo Parantha's (basically naan bread stuffed with herbs and potatoes, with curd and pickles) and some local Masala Chai - which is very sweet tea with Masala spices and nutmeg. Both were delicious and Kayan paid for the lot! He then took me to meet his friends who were both meditation guru’s and I stayed and chatted to them for a bit. They said they would take me to the ganga aarti in the evening, but I felt a free lunch would probably come with some kinda price haha, so I gave them the wrong mobile number and parted ways. 

I then went to find a new room. There is a guesthouse – Seema Guesthouse, a place run by Seema and her husband, just behind Bhandari which I had seen good reviews about on Trip Advisor. Her last room was on the ground floor, for 300 rupees a night (100 less than bhandari) and it was a lovely room overlooking the courtyard, with a comfy mattress, constant hot water and all day wifi for 20 rupees (less than 20p!). So I put a deposit on the room to secure for the next night and went down to my current guesthouse to tell them I’d be checking out in the morning. They were very rude when I asked about an extra mattress to last me through the night, so I’m glad I’m leaving it (the guy just sat playing a computer game rather than addressing the issue)! Can still use all the amenities in the area (everyone just uses other guesthouse’s cafes and shops).

I then took a tuk tuk for 5 rupees down to Ram Jhula (the bridge going over to Swarg Ashram) for the ganga aarti, but unfortunately it wasn’t on tonight as there was some world peace day speeches from all the baba’s and guru’s. Instead I just sat and listened and watched the sun set over the river. Got chatting to a british girl whose boyfriend lives in Rishikesh and was over for a couple of weeks with him. 

Then a group of Indian students, guys and girls, gathered round and we got chatting for a good hour or so. They were pounding out questions like where I’m from, my profession, my trave| plans, my plans for marriage, my hobbies etc. They even invited me to Amritsar to stay with each one’s families – shame I can’t make it up there!! They were so lovely and a great end to a lovely first day in Rishikesh. They took so many pictures of me! 

I then took the 20min walk across a pitch-black bridge and road up to my guesthouse. It was soooo dark, good job I brought a torch with me! I hadn’t eaten so thought I’d go and sit for a while since it wasn’t too late, and ordered a Papaya Lassi (thick yoghurt drink), and Paneer Pokaras – basically fried cheese which were mega yummy. Then I called it a night and went to pack ready for checking out in the morning.

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