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Clare’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2008

Location: Rishikesh, Uttaranchal, India

MapWell time seems to be just flying by - I can't believe its nearly March. When I left back in October I thought March seemed forever away but here it is about to creep up on me! I've been trying to keep up with things at home on Facebook and the BBC news website and it seems strange to think that London and England are about to enter yet another season without me there. Hope you are all having a good 2008 and glad to see the Cadbury celebrations of birthdays etc are continuing apace!

I'm now in my final month of being in India - my visa finishes on the 7th April so I will need to cross into Nepal towards the end of March, so Lizzie and I have come north from Rajasthan to the foothills of the Indian Himalaya in the state of Uttaranchal. The town is called Rishikesh and is both a Hindu Holy town as it is on the Ganges and is renowned as the Yoga capital of the world. This is where the Beatles came in the 60's to study under the Maharishi. It therefore seems quite fitting that I did my first ever Yoga class here this morning! It was pretty hardcore actually, quite active and it combined Yoga asanas with Meditation, Pranayama (breathing exercises) and a bit of Om chanting.... quite a change from an English aerobics style Yoga class! Still, I reckon if I do it everyday for a week it'll help get me in shape for some trekking in Nepal!

Lizzie is doing an Ayurvedic Massage course for a week - which is such a bind for me as she needs someone to practice on. How annoying that after my morning Yoga session I'll HAVE to be massaged everyday! And other than that, there doesn't seem to be tons else to do here. The town is lovely and picturesque and I can get chicken here - which is great after my month of enforced vegetarianism - I have learned from my time in India that I am most naturally a carnivore. I have also learned that nothing ever works quite as you might expect. For instance we've checked into a nice resorty style hotel overlooking the Ganges above the town and we have a lovely big marbled bathroom "brilliant" we thought, "24 hr hot water and a lovely shower" well yes, thats what it LOOKS like, but actually after Lizzie had had her shower, not only did we not have anymore hot water, but there was NO water at all, hot or cold, coming out of any tap for about 20 minutes. Obviously I was not happy to discover this while mid shower with shampoo in my hair! Plus you need both hands to turn on the tap in the sink as its not fixed in. One hand to hold the tap still and the other to turn it. Once the water is flowing, you realise your feet at getting a bit wet. This is because there is no pipe connecting the sink plug to any other plumbing....the water simply splatters to the floor from sink height!

Other things I've started to notice and miss now I've been away a while are pavements (they are always dug up to covered in cows or stalls here), soft mattresses, People driving without using the horn as a method of constant communication with other road users, always having to go out somewhere to get food/drink - it would be nice sometimes to just be in a house and prepare your own food and eat it right there, not being able to trust water from the tap and having to hand wash my own underwear all the time!

All that said, Rishkesh seems like a nice place and you soon realise that with small adjustments you can make things work. Obviously the benefits of being here outweigh the annoyances and lets not forget that bathing in the Ganges washes all sin...that said its a bit chilly this time of year so maybe I'll hold off for now!