Off to Rishikesh for the next stop in my adventures.
My two days at the Imperial were perfect – a spa day and a day on catch-up on the internet. Lots of time to recharge, eat north american style food and so on.
I spent quite a bit of time with Micky and Sheeba; had them to dinner at the hotel at the Spice Route and then dinner out with their whole family at a terrific spot near the showroom called TRES.
Up early this morning and no problems finding the right train, coach or seat – such a relief! Porters are a godsend!
The countryside is gradually giving way from dusty urban sprawl to semi-tropical and verdant green rural. The ditches from refuse choaked cesspools to waterlily laden streams. The fields are planted with sugar cane as far as the eye can see and the land looks very soggy from the last of the monsoon rains. We passed several field which look like they are being prepared for rice planting. The odd water buffalo stands solitary sentinel and families of pigs cavort in the rain. Frisky, silly pigs are something new in my experience.
The villages we pass all seem to be small, dingy and absolutely filthy. Add to that, there is a kind of mould which grows on cement here and left unchecked stains everything a blotchy black. Lime wash aparently deals with it but must be reapplied every season or so. Obviously a losing battle, whether from lack or funds or interest I don’t know.
My fellow passengers are a mixed bunch. There are a couple of persistent cockroaches in and out of my window slot – I thought about brushing them off but upon reflection it is better to know where they are I think…?
There are three women from Durban SA also going to Rishikesh to visit their ancestral roots. Naturally the one sitting beside me is quite large and has personal space issues…. Generally I do like people and I try very hard to be tolerant but I always manage to get the ones who push that tolerance.
An older gentleman across the way and up one or two, is very pleased with his new cell and hasn’t yet figured out that louder doesn’t actually improve reception. Fortunately I at least don’t have a clue what he is bellowing. Then there is the “consumptive” death rattle across the aisle and I am staying very far away from him believe me! Finally there is what appears to be a large extended family with one 2 or 3 year old of indeterminate sex, who is passed from lap to lap and sweets are stuffed into it’s mouth every time it squalls – which not too surprisingly – happens frequently. I shall be pleased when they leave which looks eminent, thank goodness!
Then I stepped off the train in Haridwar, found my taxi and thought “I have made such a big mistake”.
Haridwar sort of reminds me of those tacky English seaside towns, all cheap hotels, grockley trinket shops and hawkers out to squeeze every penny from gullible tourists!
“I thought what am I doing here, I hate this sort of thing, I am all by myself, I don’t have the mental fortitude or emotional resources to do this”.Etc. etc!
But then we drove for 45 minutes along increasingly smaller and narrower roads into the countryside and arrived here at Aurovalley.
I am still completely petrified, I met the Swami very briefly – I found him kind of terrifying, I think because I immediately felt incredibly shallow and gauche and very much out of my element. I have since determined to stick it out and that it is probably just “new kid on the block” stuff I am feeling.
The place however has a lovely tranquility, lots of big trees, a couple of affectionate resident dogs, birds galore and a very small group of residents – maybe 20. I hope to meet some of them at meditation at 6 tonight.
My room is extremely basic – a single bed on a low wooden platform, concrete shelves for clothes and a couple of hooks to hang things, the bathroom is Indian style which means you bathe with a bucket and scoop. There is a ceiling fan and a bare lightbulb high up on the wall and that is about it. A VERY far cry from my palatial room at the Imperial! Oh – and it is called “Obedience”, not “Joy” or “Intuition” or even “Frankness” as my neighbours are, but OBEDIENCE – really is the cosmos trying to tell me something?
The other thing? It isn’t the foothills of the eastern Himalayas – except for some outcrops or lowish hills in the misty distance it is pretty flat – and the headwaters of the Ganges are still a long way north of here. My mistake. But I can walk down the path to the “Ganga” as it is properly called and bathe in the sacred waters – keeping an eye out for feral dogs and wearing full attire – no bathing suits allowed. I don’t know if I will partake of this particular experience – we are downstream from Haridwar!
But apparently we do have a good internet connection so I can stay in touch, but not too in touch as I think it would be easy to deflect from my purpose here.
And so – to my purpose – I shall try to articulate why I am here. I feel I have been extraordinarily fortunate in my life; I have friends and family I love and care about and who return the compliment I think; my son is the light in my life and we have a good relationship – most of the time – tho’ of course I do worry about him; I have sufficient material assets to live a comfortable life and do a lot of the things I enjoy; I am pretty healthy and I have been given the great gift of curiosity and an abiding interest in life. So all in all very fortunate indeed and in fact sometimes I feel rather guilty as a result of all that good fortune. I do know that I have worked pretty hard to achieve it but there has been a lot of good luck too!
I have however been feeling for some time now, that there is something missing and that I am on the verge of a new “blossoming”. I don’t mean to get all woo woo and new age here but I feel the need for a new purpose. I am too young to “retire”, mentally, emotionally and physically but I have NO desire to get a job. I lack any spiritual connection to the world; I don’t believe in God per se – I prefer the Buddhist way that “god” is within us all but I am by no means planning on becoming a Buddhist however appealing I find the philosophy. If there is one thing I do know about myself it is that I am not much of a joiner.
So I think then, my purpose here for the next 17 days – is to find my purpose for the next phase of my life however long that may be. By that I don’t mean until I die but simply this next phase of my life.
That’s it for now…except there are some amazing birds here!
Oh one last thing – the internet is slower than molasses so I may not be posting much – and forget about pictures unless I get really lucky!
I will try to finish off my impressions of Rajasthan – got behind there – as well as stay current with Aurovalley.