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ciz&iz’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 18 Jun 2005

Location: Rishikesh, India

MapHi All. We are in Rishikesh right now. Itís a place with say only 100,000 people in an area the size of a European small town. We came form Delhi, which is a crazy place. The old city is hectic, overcrowded and dirty (India in general) while in contrast the new city is spacious and symmetrically designed. We saw a couple of temples there. One was a Sikh temple. It had a cool vibe. Inside there was a band playing Indian music. People would just sit around and watch on the thick velvet carpet and there was free food. It reminded us of a London squat party. The second belonged to the Bahaíi religion, which believes that all religions point to the same thing and tries to promote religious harmony. The temple looks like the Sydney opera house but is supposed to resemble a lotus. Pools of water around it flow underneath providing a natural cooling system conductive to meditation. Inside each person can pray or meditate in whatever fashion they like as long as they remain quiet. Sounds great in practice. Unfourtunally not possible in India, the place where you will have several people talking on their phones in a cinema at once.. The concept of personal space does not exist here much to the frustration of the ushers in the Bahaíi temple who spent most of the time chasing people around trying to get them to be quiet. We tried finding a corner of the temple to soak in the atmosphere but of course all the teenagers want to be seen with the westerners, bless them.
We spent a few days in Delhi soaking it in before coming to Rishikesh. Itís still overwhelmingly hot here, as people gear up for the Monsoon, which I think was made up to get tourists to visit in the hot season. Since coming here we have had our picture taken dozens of times by parents who want there children to be seen with the westerners. Out of the blue they will ask you to hold a baby or stand by their child, as if all westerners are movie stars. Out here we seem to be the tourist attraction.
We are doing yoga the moment. Itís really good. Hopefully we will be able to stand on our heads the next time you see us. The teacher has a turban and a big bushy beard. Heís really good and we are getting a taste of the philosophy and thinking behind it. Yoga is very important here as walking down the road can be very stressful. Thereís no footpath and Indians drive like they just robed the bank. They blaze down the street ringing their horn at the mere sight of another individual. Even on busy pedestrian streets we are jumping out of the way of noisy speeding motorbikes. These people are stone mad. New coping skills are needed as apart from the constant screeching of horns everywhere, things are really sweet here and we meet lots of lovely people. A and B are great just getting from one to the other with your mental sanity intact is the real challenge.