Thursday, December 18, 2008

Haridwar: Prayer For My Family Down The Ganges

So I typed out this great ellaborate story about my time in Haridwar and the internet cafe I was at decided to stop working right at the time of publish! All my work was gone! BOGUS!

In anycase, so to recap..

The rest of my day out of the course, Soni and I went looking around for The Bible, given it was Sunday you would think the churches would be open but no...No luck again. So after that, I met with Varun where we went and got coffee and I got some tasty veggie sandwhiches.
"Cody, do you just want to go somewhere where we can drink our coffee and just talk?"
"Sure Varun, that would be nice."
Varun couldnt think of a place to goto so I suggested the rooftop of my hotel, he was stoked on that idea so off we went. We talked for about (no joke) 5 or 6 hours. We talked alot about the kite festival coming up in January that I am really looking forward to attending. Varun told me everything about the festival and even described how to fly a kite and at one point he showed me with a real kite.
Varun jumps from his seat as if it were on fire, runs to the balcony and somehow managed to see a piece of string floating, grabs the string and starts pulling it until a thrashed lost kite is revealed.
"Yes! God listened to my prayers! Ok Cody, I can now show you everything you need to know about kites"
And so he did. I am well prepared for the festival in January and am really excited. What inspired me the most about the kite festival was seeing the movie Kite Runner. Its a foreign film about two young friends who have a deep passion for kite flying in India which transmitted their passion into me! :)

So there we sat, drinking, eating, talking and I happened to notice on the table beside us a set of books and to my recollection there it sat, what I have been looking for ever since I landed in India. The Holy Bible. I run down, find Saleem and tell him,
"Saleem!! I have been looking for this for months! Is it yours?!?"
"Yes Cody, I read it often but you can have it if you want."
"Are you sure? I dont want to deprive you of this..."
"Yes Cody I am sure you take it."
Stoked I finally got my hands on a Bible!

So before my bus left, Varun left and I gathered my things and headed for my overnight bus to Haridwar. The bus ride was like all the others. Not so bumpy but full of a chilly sleeping area, and having to pee every couple of hours. I get to Haridwar and I am greeted by the beautiful Ganges River. Its the holiest river in India (and also the most polluted in some parts) however Haridwar is right at the begining of the run off from the Himalayas, so the water is crystal clear.

I spent my day walking around, eating tasty food and reading. I crashed early thanks to my hot shower!! Stoked! My first hot shower in weeeeks!!! Needless to say I sleep like a baby that night!

The next day I wake up early to goto two temples in Haridwar, the most norotious ones there. Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi. Both of which you have to ride a cable car up a huge mountain to get there (how rad is that?!) You could have walked up the mountain but you are repeatedly warned about prasad stealing monkeys! No way! How is a monkey going to steal from me!? Anyhow, inside there are shrines to different gods where you go and offer prasad (food offering), money or just your sincere prayers. After the first temple, the cable car was out of order so I went on the view sight to eat some bananas I had brought with me. After finishing the first one I peel my second one and as I look up there is a monkey 2 inches from my face (no joke) with a look on its face similar to the look on the monkeys face in Aladdin when he sees the genies treasures. He kept leaning back and forth on the railing, eyes perched wide, mouth open, getting ready to leap for the banana at any second. I chuck the banana aside and make a run for it in the other direction. When I come to senses with what happened I start laughing hysterically, "Beware of the prasad stealing monkeys!" Now I understand what they meant :)

So after visiting the temples, it was time to read and crashed early. I tried to see the evening ganga aarti (ceremony on the ganges river) but I was too late, so I went back to the room and crashed.

The next morning I woke up early to go see the Aarti (ceremony) on the Ganges. I woke up at 5 am, walked down to the Ganges, and waiting until the sun rose before I began my own personal aarti. The sky had a purple haze to it, it was unlike anything I have ever seen before, so when the sunrise looked right, I bought a boat of flowers with a candle in the center and floated my prayer for my family down the ganges. This too was something that was on my "MUST DO" agenda when in India. It was absoletly beautiful. Seeing my candle lit prayer of flowers float down the ganges against a purple hinted dawn was a feeling unlike anything I have ever felt or witnessed before in my life. Waking up to freeze my butt off for almost two hours was a small price to pay for this truly magnificient site.

After that I grabbed my stuff, and headed down to the bus station to grab a local 1 hour bus to Rishikesh.
"When is the bus to Rishikesh?"
(The man points to a bus that is taking off)
So I run to get on another bus. I love it, so much fun!! On the way to Rishikesh I saw HUGE statues of different hindu gods (Hanuman and Shiva) on the way. HUGE! Bigger than some building in the US! Fantastic!

After arriving in Rishikesh I start to walk to find my Ashram. I walk for about 2 hours and after many back tracks, stops, and questions I finally find the ashram. What a relief I was so winded from lugging around my backpack for a few miles up hill in the hot sun. I check in, and set my stuff down. I will write about the (Ashram expierience when I am done there)

We are able to leave the Ashram (which is how I am able to write right now) but dont intend to leave once I get done with this entry. I went into town to use the computer and ATM and somehow got managed to buying guess what? More books...The addicition continues...So anyway, the minimum stay is 15 days there, so I will be there until atleast the 31st (if I dont decide to stay longer), so do not be worried if you do not see an update for a few weeks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
May your holidays be safe, and full of happy times with your friends and family.

Be happy!