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ciz&iz’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 25 Jun 2005

Location: Rishikesh, India

MapAh a cloudy day at last, feels just like an Irish summer day. The monsoon has arrived at last. The air temperature has cooled and the stuffy pressured feeling has left. We have been having cooler days and lightening storms at night. Whatís more the Indian tourist season is coming to an end. The streets look almost empty in comparison to how they did last week. Things in Rishikesh have started to calm down in a big way. The constant requests of tourists/pilgrims for us to pose in a photo with them has been replaced by the calls of street vendors and hawkers trying to make the most of the low season. At this time Rishikesh is becoming the easy going town itís supposed to be.
We have been enjoying the vegetarian cuisine here. Like everywhere in India, meat is the exception. A lot of restaurants are pure veg meaning vegan, which suits us just fine. Itís so nice to be able to eat everything on the menu. And some people told us it was hard to be a vegetarian in Asia, tut. Also we have been enjoying swimming in the Ganges. Itís a beautiful river and clean up here only 24km form the source, a glacier that melts in the hot season. Consequently the water is really cold despite the hot air temperature. Itís really silty and so you come out all shiny. Iz has had trouble trying to swim with a sarong around her costume as Indians are highly sexually repressed and younger female flesh is taboo. We are still doing yoga 3 hours a day. Itís a great class and we can really feel our bodies straighten out and releasing some of that chronic tension.
Rishikesh is a town full of Sadhus. These are ascetics who wear orange robes and are supposed to give up their worldly possessions in favor of meditation and detachment. The reality is more comical. At least a dozen try to sell us pot each day. They can be quite friendly, as are all chancers and will try to get us to smoke a chillum with them. Sometimes they donít speak English they just sit down beside you pack and spark up. I asked one how he expected to find enlightenment when heís always stoned as he probably canít even remember what day it is (Not that Iím throwing stones). Sadhus are a kind of high-class beggar. They get respect from the Indian tourists who think it is good karma to tip them. Itís been their season.
All in all Rishikesh is quite a lovely place with its tones of Ashrams, which are spiritual centers where Indians can come and live for free for a month or so to practice Hinduism. Of course we donít expect that religious institutions are any less devious over here than the ones back home. We will put some photos of the area up as soon as we can.
Love to one and all, Ciaran and Elizabeth