My initial impression of India was that there seemed to be a generous amount of perverts, the whole country smelled of piss, and the general Indian lifestyle appeared characterized by insanity and perpetual, endless chaos that threatened to shake my already-unstable foundation. I was proposed to before even landing in Delhi, by a young man who seemed far too interested in what forms of money and credit cards I was carrying. My guard was up long before touching the ground. When I did finally arrive, hungry dogs circled me in the parking garage as I was waiting for my ride, and the ride itself was a spastic slew of jamming on the brakes, swirving sickeningly, running red lights and generally maintaining a constant status of near-collision with the other vehicles on the road.
When my driver pulled over to the side of the road amongst a pile of sleeping homeless people, he told me we had arrived. My initial fascination immediately converted to fear. Groups of young men clad in white wife-beaters seemed to be scouring the streets, cigarettes in hand, and there certainly was no hostel in sight. It was 1 am. When he told me that all I had to do to reach the hostel was “go down that alley,” my fear converted to some form of terror. I refused to budge or get out of the vehicle, until he finally agreed, with exasperation, to accompany me directly to the hostel door, past the squatters, past the roaming dogs that flanked the entrance to the alley. From his position on the ground, a man reached his zombie arm toward me in the dark and groaned, “Welcome to Delhi.”
I won’t go into detail about my first night in Delhi, but it went somewhere along the lines of me waking the manager up in the middle of the night, demanding to see my official reservation, then insisting I be returned to the airport, then dejectedly locking myself in my room and laying awake all night to the sounds of screaming cats and fighting dogs, convinced that I had been tricked and was about to be sold into slavery. Is it funny now? Yes. Was it funny at the time? Absolutely not!
My second night found me sprinting across the street before oncoming traffic in the pouring rain, dashing through ankle deep muck in pursuit of three boys whom were supposedly leading me in the right direction (I had been waiting at the bus stop for over two hours past my scheduled departure time, and these boys were my last resort). This involved hurdling road dividers while the boys yelled, whistled and waved their arms for the driver to stop. It turns out that buses do not really stop — they just slow down long enough for clueless American girls to breathlessly stumble aboard. The bus was unmarked, and I restlessly spent the first hour or two wondering, once again, if I was going to be sold into slavery (I think I have my little brother to thank for scaring me about that one). I successfully arrived in Rishikesh the following morning.
I am currently enrolled in a 200 hour Ashtanga/Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Course at an ashram in Rishikesh. The ashram directly overlooks the River Ganges, and Rishikesh is known as the yoga capitol of the world. There are about 20 students in the course, and their nationalities include India, the USA, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Australia, Cuba, France, Poland, Germany, Italy, Egypt, and probably a couple more.
View from the roof of the ashram.
Starting at 5:30 in the morning, we have courses in meditation, cleansing, anatomy, and philosophy/scripture (in addition to yoga classes twice daily). We are served three vegetarian meals every day, and I have my own room at a nearby hotel. Free time is spent studying, perusing the markets, sipping masala chai in nearby cafes, and spoon-feeding myself nutella when I am hiding in my hotel room (chocolate and sweets are apparently “cheating” – they have us on a very particular diet.) I buy a chocolate bar everyday on my way back from class. Oops.
Monkeys are not to be messed with. They stole my bananas off my balcony (what a novelty) and a fellow student says she saw one punch a tourist in the face and steal their camera! I almost got ran over by one the first day I arrived.
View of the Lhaxman Jula bridge from a cafe in the background.
Stairs, inside the ashram.
Ashram courtyard (eating area)
I had a much more vibrant and involved blog entry all typed out but then I failed at knowing how to properly use technology (twice in a row), so I lost it all and had to exchange it for a more boring/inferiorly written version of everything that is going on. I will post more pictures later!! By the way, since arriving, I have met not-perverted men, Rishikesh is not quite as pee-smelly as Delhi, and I now understand that this place operates under organized chaos. It is not as ludicrous as I was led to believe when I first landed in Delhi (still…insanity.)