We lost a member of our entourage today.  The official diagnosis was ‘starting a new job next week in New York’.  I met Eric at the Tushita course and we’ve traveled off and on together since then.  On his last day today we hiked up to a great waterfall here in Rishikesh where you stand under the waterfall and try your best to not get knocked over because the water is rushing down so fast. 

Eric checking out a new place to stay

Eric checking out a new place to stay

It is intense and a hell of a lot of fun.  I felt like I was 6.  I arrived in Rishikesh a couple of days ago.  I had planned to stay in Amritsar another day but felt like I had seen all there was to see there.  Outside the Golden Temple, the city of Amritsar is just a convoluted mashup of mules, horses, cows, exhaust fumes and car horns.

There are fireworks going off outside the internet cafe I’m at.  Today is Diwali here in India which is their biggest holiday of the year.  But surprisingly there wasn’t any special thing going on, at least during the day.  All the stores were open and nothing seemed different.  My friend Jeff told me a couple of days ago that everyone goes into the Ganges to bathe and cleanse away their sins.  So we had been planning to wake up super early and get into the freezing Ganges and do the same.  I woke up this morning and there was no one at the river.  So I went back to bed.  No way I’m going in that water if no one else is.  Actually you’ll see a sadhu or a yogi, people that have given up all material aims and possessions to live a very simple life, going into the river to wash and offer food to the fish, usually chunks of bread.   And across the river from my hotel is a public ghat where you’ll see families strolling down each morning to do their daily morning rituals in the river.

I am liking Rishikesh and could see myself coming back and staying here a while longer.  It’s the home of many ashrams, where people come to study yoga and other things like meditation and Reiki and countless other things.  While I’m here I’m trying different yoga teachers and types of yoga and I think I’m finally understanding what all the types are.  There’s basically two: hatha and ashtanga.  Hatha is the kind where you hold the pose for a while, and ashtanga is where you flow from one to the other.  All the other types of yoga are different ways of doing either hatha and ashtanga.  I think.  I’ve tried a couple but haven’t really liked either teacher’s style.  Am I becoming a yoga snob?

One of the few must see tourist attractions here is the Maharishi ashram where the Beatles stayed back in the day. 

Climbing into the eggshells to do some chanting

Climbing into the eggshells to do some chanting

It was closed in the late 80’s and hasn’t been opened since due to a government dispute on the land.  During that time mother nature has completely taken over.  In some parts you have to push aside huge tree branches to step inside a room.  One of the coolest things they have there are these eggshell meditation rooms.  They are acoustically architected so that when you’re inside chanting your voice echoes over and over and you feel the vibrations all around you. 

I’m planning to leave to Nepal in a couple of days to start hiking before the weather turns too cold.  Then I may potentially return here.  Or not.  It’s a typical dinner conversation.  “So where are you going next?”  “Oh I don’t know.  I’m thinking about heading south or staying around here a bit longer.”  And then someone pulls out their Rough Guide or Lonely Planet and we pore over the options.  There is no alcohol AT ALL over here so we spend our evenings having 3 hour dinners, staying till 10 or 11, whenever the restaurant closes.  I’m used to closing down bars. But this whole closing down restaurants thing is kinda new to me.

Advertisements