05.08.2010 - 05.08.2010
Today had been a nice calm day, woke up around 9am, had some toast which by a miracle came with jam and no massala in sight. We had to look for a new hotel as the one we are in we like the room but its too expensive and we only ended up in it after yet another debacle / heated debate about which rooms we were or were not shown, price relevant, the day before. We want to go to the green hotel next door as we ave met someone who is there and it seems nice. I have bartered the price down from 800 to 500 but we want the top floor as it has massive eating area / balcony but that is AC room however we dont want to use AC. After much persuasion we convince the guy that we need a good view and he lets us have the room for the agreed 500. We move in and we are next door to our new friend - Alan. We met Alan yesterday as we had dinner on the roof of said hotel, and he was up there. Alan, is also of Indian descent, and surprisingly ALSO comes form Australia. So i now have 2 Aussie - Indian friends.
\We agree to go up to the temple as its a bit rainy but cooler, the climb up is tricky as the road (well if you want to call it that) is steep and mossy. Arrive at the temple there are a great many steps to go up and the views are something else (pics to follow). At the very top there is a guy who beckons us into this little room where there is a mural on the wall of Shiva's wedding party. (The festival that is taking place is to worship Shiva and people are coming in from miles around to bathe in the Ganges, they hang on at the edge to little ropes and it is said around 2 people a day get swept away.) So we sit with the guy, he gives us Ganga water to drink, and blesses us with a tika on our forehead. He also has some prayer beads so we all buy one each and leave him some money. ON the way out we decide to visit the temple further up, but the road is busy with the orange colored festival goers on mopeds and although there is no drinking involved (this is a place where it is banned) the guys are very loud and the interest in me grows once again. IN fact so much so that the interest in visiting the temple diminishes and we head back. \The road home is quieter but slippy and i find a dog who looks like Bean, except she is very scared to be touched but eventually holds out her paw and she gets a rub on the chest. (Of course i have pics! - in addition i have pics of me and the horse i found outside the hotel this morning, and me and a variety of cows!!!)
We head back to the hotel and Alan said for bathing dress down and i pull out the boardies i have to cover my swimwear, the boardies are white with an assortment of very bright flowers not out of place in bondai beach but to keep incognito here we agree i go in in my fishing trousers. We set off and after negotiating the orange men, we head to calmer place where the only thing we are to be mindful of are the Shadus who have taken up their residence and are sometimes not keen on sharing their Ganges! En route unsurprisingly we meet another small dog, and she must be about 4 months old. she allows a smooth under the chin and the guys joke that the black dog must have popped down to tell them as pretty soon a small band of dogs are accompanying us. Pretty soon we have the three of us and roughly 5 dogs. We get to the edge of the beach and we are on another dogs territory, a small scuffle breaks out but they quickly disband and we have now got 2 left. The tiny puppy, and a bigger light brown dog who is a male. As we swim we leave our shoes on the beach and the small puppy follows me to the edge and lies down the brown dog is just sniffing around.
The Ganges is very cold but compared to the heat it is refreshing and we are very careful not to go too far out. The idea is to become submerged to be cleansed by the waters which are rushing down from the Himalayas. The Ganges has been proved to be sterile and it has healing properties - that aside i have 4 blisters from trekking 10K in flip flops yesterday so i hoping for the sterile bit personally. I duck under but as the water is so swirling and the sand is all around you cannot see and being swept away at the forefront of my mind i am not sure i was under long enough to achieve full spiritual enlightenment, however my feet have been in it all this time so that is good with me. We just sit in the water and chill out, meanwhile the brown dogs walk toward our stuff and for a minute i think to myself, i know what is coming next and i am so going to get the blame for wet clothing and shoes, however to my surprise he lies in front of MY shoes and top, and some other dogs come onto the beach, he growls at them until they have left and then takes up his vigil once more.
After swimming we decide to walk up to the Marhareshis old ashram (where the Beatles once went). It is now broken and damaged and so overgrown that it is almost impossible to get to but we scramble up and then climb over a big gate (this is most fun part!) all the while our 2 new friends follow us. As we start on the gate the brown dogs starts to cry, but as we are heading up the steps both he and the little dog have come under it and are with us once more. We look at the individual room that once were the cells of the those who stayed here. Tiny huts with a room downstairs, a loo, and then upstairs a little room and balcony where you can see the Ganges and meditate. The huts are round and about 8 foot in diameter all in. During our time up there the little dog cries while the brown one lies down, i realise that they are both being bombarded by mozzies, although we 3 have none. The little dog is not keen the bites and eventually i get one so we all (5) head for home). The track down is steep and we struggle, as do the dogs at times but they show no sign of leaving us, they just gently follow on. This is odd as the brown dog is male and i can almost understand the little dog seeking company and refuge but he is big and has chased off other dogs so he has no need of our protection. I wonder what we will do on return to the hotel and am panicking as i know if the dogs come to the hotel they will be beaten eventually, but the strangest thing happened, as we return to the path first the brown dog and then the little on find their own way and head off. As if they have had our company and were happy to just hang for a while, and now they head somewhere else.
We return to wash for dinner, and head out to the other side over the bridge that we 'were not allowed' to take on our way over. Yet more orange men, yet more photos although surprisingly at night they are calmer. It is strange as at home as the night draws on people would get more drunk or high or whatever and would eventually become violent and with so many it would be very scary but here it is fine as they are not threatening. We head to a nice restaurant and i order paneer tikka massala, and yes it is fab, the best i have had so far. (although the bridge over is a bit high and swingy - there is some concrete involved - it used to be rope and there is now some metal also but it swings as the merry peeps cross over) We leave and head for home again, the orange people are mostly heading out of town and i wonder where many will sleep as they come on the pilgrimage and most from poor villages, but there are some shelters set up outside this village where they can sleep and get some food. (To be honest in India people just sleep anywhere and like the cows are left well alone to do just that!)
We stop as they guys realise i have not yet had Indian desert ( i am learning some dished to try on my travels and some handy phrases as they are prepping me for when i am off on my own in 2 days time!~) and i this doughnut in sugar - fried, its hard to explain as its not like at home in sugar its like a syrup coating but then fried, with ice cream. ( no i am not sure how many calories it has probably far too many - but oh my, the taste...) ON the way to hotel we try to buy a shawl for me and i want a really thin one not pashmina etc, but they all say oh yes i have one of those and then show me everything but, until 20 bits of cloth later we give up. I love this country but their inability to say no, or we dont have it / one etc can be very draining!
This town is very dirty due to the amount of toursit here to bathe in Ganges, and everywhere is full of shit, which i think is very funny as i came from England to escape the shit over there, only now i am here and in more shit than ever before, in fact there is shit everywhere, but in reality is okay as my friend points out this is holy shit!!!!
Tomorrow - Yoga..........(if i get up in time!)