Stuff one - Mortality
We have, so far, seen dead on the road: Birds (various), Dog (Black), Cow (Brown and white), Man (Brown)….Yep, a cow and a man! The cow was just being a dead cow with no one taking much notice. The man, however, had a crowd of people around him looking concerned and pointing at something or other whilst one officious looking and plainly compassionate man picked the mans head up by the hair and then dropped it. This is no doubt a medically advised method to determine death at a road traffic accident site.
Stuff two – Railway stations
Waiting on station to go to Rishikesh met my second (to chat to) monk. Sona was a sheepherder in a nomadic Tibetitan family until 12 when he became a monk. He was uncertain of his train station and asked (OF ALL PEOPLE) us. We tried to enact the tanoy announcement for him so he would know when his train arrived 4 hours later – Basically the tanoy repeatedly goes”Ta-dahhhhh” then the announcement is maid in various indian dialects and English. Our monk sadly just looked confused as Rachel and I kept going “Ta-Dahhhhh, bibly bibly bibly etc. He spoke poor English but we chatted about his prayer beads (he reads the whole string 10 to 15 times a day), his brothers and sisters, the monastery he was at and age. He giggled a lot for a 44 year old scholar and tried to teach us some Tibetan (which we have forgotten now). He wore red robes and looked very serene.
Saw a couple of goats on the railway lines munching away at bits of grass growing between the sleepers. When the train came through on the line they were on they just casually moved to the other line. Also, people do not bother walking up the station to the stairs, up the stairs, over the bridge and down the stairs the other side. They just jump down onto the tracks and walk from one platform to the other.
At a station the other day we saw two men having a wash under standpipes between the tracks. They folded their clothes up on the platform. Jumped down onto the tracks and washed in their underpants whilst hundreds of other passengers just got on with their day as if nothing weird was happening.
A motorbike driven by a young man went tearing along the platform, beeping people to get out of the way at 7.00pm yesterday. No one protested. They just moved out of the way and laughed at my surprised face.
When you are on a platform in India at 3am it is busier than Colchester station at rush hour. There are children running around, families huddled together, people with huge amounts of luggage and hundreds of sleeping bodies swaddled in blankets to step over.
Stuff three – Service
Here in many hotels there are interesting variations on what customer service is. At this particular hotel the waiter and cashier operate an interesting slant on the concept of “service with a smile” by offering “service with a snort”. Whilst we sat at our table 5 metres from the service station the waiter alternatively snorted, blew out from his nose into his fingers and finally, the piece da resistance (if I could spell it) was hawking up as he handed over our porridge. Actually as he handed it over “Your…Sckaaarrggghhhhnngggffthh…Porridge sir, thank you, thank you”
Couple this with public snorting snitting, hawking, snotting and cow shitting it is pretty tricky to have a walk down a street in Rishikesh without your feet experiencing some form of fluidity when touching the ground
Stuff four - Interesting
We were in a Laxmi temple today and there was a deity which was a woman with a moustache and another with a beard – Amritsar plagerists
Stuff five – I’ve got the horn
Your average indian driver, I would conservatively say, spends at about 1 hour a day with his finger firmly pressed on the horn of his vehicle. The horn means get out of the way, look out I am coming, alright mate, thanks, excuse me whilst I overtake on an impossibly small road packed with obstacles and any other number of beeping related communications. It is without doubt one of the most annoying things about India.
Stuff six – House proud
Today I watched with admiration whilst a mobile stall owner swept the dirt patch in front and under the cart from which his produce was sold. The dirt was swept to a precise boundary where it was no longer considered his concern.
Stuff seven – When Sadhus go bad
There is a route we walk most days in Rishikesh to and from our tantric class where we pass about 100 Sadhus. Sadhus are religious men and women who have forsaken all worldly goods and rely on Mother Ganga to provide for them. She, the Ganga (Ganges) seems to have less to do with their well-being than the fruits of their constant bloody begging. But who knows. Theres rivers move in mysterious ways. Oh another thing about a large amount of these so called holy men is that they are stoned off their tits most of the time and can nearly all be seen toting on joints with their shabby, bearded co-horts at any time of the day. Mysteries of the Cosmos are, in my limited experience, better appreciated when you have a large quantity of dope to hand. Anyway, the point of this was not to suggest that many of these mystics are addicts but to report that on this morning’s walk where we saw two of these holy men fighting. One had a stick and it was all very exciting. If I only had my camera to hand I could have had my second priceless picture (the cow shagging the bike being the first). So much for following the path of enlightenment and peace hey?