Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Upon arrival into Delhi train station we were pciked up by a very jolly Mohan Singh and piled into his car. The proceeding six hour drive northbound to Rishikesh was littered by inumerable accidents. We witnessed mainly the left over wreckage of freshly smashed vehicles, animal limbs and bike parts, but at one point saw a man being knocked off his bike by a speeding car (at which point Mohan Singh pressed the gas to the floor and explained "soon villagers are coming and stoning the car, much better we go now"). The total disregard for human life on the roads here has started to really bother me. The road is punctuated by overturned multi-coloured trucks that have seemingly invested more in the tinsel that makes them astechically pleasing to children than in replaced break pads, or more over driving lessons. Crunched up cars, tractors, and small groups of men sitting in vigil at the roadside mourning at the spot that boasts the latest casualty are so common place they soon stop evoking notice, and what's worse is that almost every crash feels so utterly avoidable if just the slightest hint of 'safety first' could penetrate the mindset of India's road users. This leads on to further thought on my part about the nature of death and the way it is so readily understood and accepted here in India, in comparison to the west where we are completely preoccupied with the preservation and protection of human life, and rarely acknowledge the frgaility or temporary nature of our time in this world with the overwhelmingly blunt and matter and fact attitude expelled towards it here. "Car is crashing, then going to the up, and if not then going to the Rishikesh", explains Mohan, whilst sweetly driving a good 10mph slower than the other road users to reassure his cargo of tourists (still a good 50mph faster than anything I'd be comfortable with on a road heavily scarred with pot holes the size of small crators).

Anyway, when the foothills of the Himalays and Gangas finally come into view it's a magic moment. This area of India is by far the most beautiful we have seen so far, and my first impressions of Rishikesh are good (driving aside). We go to haggle a price for a guest house (500 rupees each for two nights-completely with our own 'western' bathroom-deal), and then go to eat some delicious and cheap Thali at a local place.

In the morning we took a walk to the large bridge connecting our side of the river with the busier one, and then made our way to the top floor of our guest house for a two hour yoga session. I got given 'special needs' bricks to help with my inability to touch my toes without bending my knees, and probably injured some muscles I didn't know existed, and then as if I hadn't made a large enough fool of myself at this point completely dosed off in the meditation (they put blindfolds on you it's easy to do) awaking to find the whole room in the lotus position chanting Om with their hands clasped in prayer over their chests. I very swiftly smoothed my crazy hair back down and bolted up into said position, hoping noone had noticed. They all had.

After yoga we met up with Gabby and had some breakfast, then arranged to go white water rafting. Having never been before I can honestly say I think had it not of been for Abby sorting out my helmet, life jacket and explaining what on earth I was meant to do, I probably would of died. I think we all felt in the second rapids when the entire boat got submerged, everyone had abandoned paddling in favour of screaming and we were plummeting towards the rocks that we might not make it, but here we are. Woo. We were told after the final rapids, in a very casual tone, that 4 people had died the day before. Money first, fun second, safety last. Go up when God is willing, and until then live without concern to try and alter death fate. Maybe it's not such a ridiculous philosophy, just one that is alien to me. I consider the pain caused to the parents who were told they have lost children because of a senseless lack of health and safety, they think all death is not senseless, just an inevitable part of life no harder or easier to accpet depending on the circumstances (I say they, some people think this way, or so I believe).

Anyway, after rafting we went for dinner, then to the markets, then to take Gabby back, then back to the market, then to bed. We were up again in 4 hours at a ghastly 3.30 am to drive back to Delhi for a 12.30pm flight to GOA.....

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