Saturday, May 05, 2007

Still in India, Part 2

RISHIKESH
Which brings us to Rishikesh, the yoga capital of India, the destination of the Beatles on their Indian adventure, and one of the holiest cities in India, right at the top of the Ganges. Our room has a balcony directly over the wide, beautiful river, and we are completely surrounded by ashrams, saddhus, pilgrims doing puja on the river, constant chanting, and other general holiness. It is a very full-on city, too, with tones of motorbikes and cows and dogs and beggars and dust and pollution, but also a beautiful one.
The view from our hotel:

At dinner with Barbie, from the ashram:
Let me pause here to add a note about health and hygeine. I have, officially, broken every rule in the "Staying Healthy While Travelling 3rd World" booklet that the tropical diseases doctor gave me. I have walked barefoot in all kinds of places, drank water, eaten salads and fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten street food, shared my water bottle with anyone who asked, and played with dogs. I swam not only in the strictly forbidden freshwater bodies of water, but I actually fully immersed myself, 3 times, in the Ganges. And this is the point at which, I'm afraid, that along with several lifetimes of karma, I wiped out my entire immune system.We had a couple of lovely days--long mountain hikes, frolicking in waterfalls:



and doing yoga on our roof overlooking the Ganges--and then one morning I woke up violently ill. I could not eat or leave the room. I could barely stand. Sara fell ill as well, so Michael and Jon were stuck fetching us water and electrolytes. It was awful. Finally, on the evening of the third day of no food, I left the room for the first time to go to an Italian restaurant and eat a little pasta. I'm still scared of everything I eat, but am taking my antibiotics and hoping for the best.We're thoroughly enjoying Rishikesh, otherwise. We've done lots of shopping, had Ayurvedic massages, and have booked ourselves for cooking classes, and hopefully soon sitar lessons as well. We all do yoga every morning, and are buying lots of books about meditation and spirituality. It is SO much fun to be with a group of people who are so into all of this stuff--and three more friends are joining us tomorrow, yay!