Saturday, May 31, 2008

on the road back to rishikesh

Now I'm in the car back to Rishikesh. The meeting went very well, I think. But what do I know? More on Hardiwar: We eased our way through market stalls and waves of adorable children selling puja, flower offerings. Latha told us they have the incense in them so that the goddess Ganga is given a gift of all the senses.

The horn of the car I'm in sound exactly like a clown horn.

We waited around. Lauren thought she'd had her camera pickpocketed, so we all closed ranks, forming protective pods of people. But later, it turned out Alex had it, and L was somewhat embarrassed to have maligned the small children, who probably very well could have been pickpockets. A woman came by to chase the children off with a stick, so we felt bad for them even if they were pickpockets.

There were so many people about, and with that brief time we were sure successfully pickpockets were about, too, we felt under siege. Normally the crowding and the noise and the filthy river surrounding me on both sides would have had me twitching like a petrified rabbit, but I was suddenly filled with that inner calm of a deep deep breath, the moment you sign our in savasana, and there's clarity. To co-opt a tired phrase, we were all one, fingers from the same hand, that same water from the Ganages flowed in us all as a spirit just the same. I kept falling into this way/pattern of thought, like a dizzy drop, and then I'd yank myself away again, conscious that I was there with a group many of whom were feeling sick, tired and generally unspiritual.

I was able to capture some of this in the video, with the noise fading away to the Ong Namo song. The ceremony itself wasn't as moving as those moments before, but I still enjoyed it very much. But I was just too conscious of the material world after jerking myself out of that spiritual vertigo.

Speaking of the material world, Café Coffee Day, the "Starbucks of India" remains a special treat when I'm able to cross the street from the hotel to get there (which is often, but not always). Jenny and Sarah and I were there talking about how we're getting used enough to the money that $2 for a monstrously large delicious coffee drink seems outrageous (this is how much they are at CCD). We imagined our shock when we returned to the States to the real Starbucks (or, overpriced coffee shop of choice). Jenny feigned horror "Five dollars for coffee??" and Sarah's rejoinder cracked me up: the conciliatory tone of the start to haggling "How about two fifty?"

I bought a couple of salwar-kameez suits at the bazaar in Dehradun a couple of nights ago. They both have green in them, for my eyes. Sarah just told me how much diet affects her eye color, so I'm curious to experiment now. But in the meantime I will artificially brighten them with clothing. The son of the Sikh shop owner who sold them to me was kind of cute. I imagined what it would be like to be in love with him, but quickly tired of the relationship because it turned out he was bitter and dissatisfied with his lot in life. I'll have to go back to pick them up after the tailor finishes making them.

While at the same market, I found a fabric shop which will have something, I hope, that I can use as a slipcover, and some ekatt Mom would love.

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