We got up and started Tetrising all our stuff into the huge bag. Kamal brought over the sitar – while Mike was in the shower and I was still in bed – and of course he wanted to say hello to his friend Mike. So I tried to get him out of the bathroom. Then Mr. J, of Namaste, wanted to meet with us, so we met him downstairs – he paid Mike back the 4000 rupees that he had loaned Hukam in Rishikesh, and told us he hopes to see us again, and that he plans to visit the U.S. sometime in the next two years. We told him he was welcome to stay with us, if he would like. We got all the stuff into our huge bag – heavy – and we left it in the cloak room at the hotel ‘til later.
We went to out to the same Emporium that Prem took us to on our first day in Delhi – Mr. “Harry Potter” recognized us – he turned bright red when we walked in (?). I had some coffee (yuck), because they said they didn’t have any chai – even though, just a few minutes later, Mike got some chai anyway. Harry told me that all my stuff was already shipped and gave me a tracking number for the package – so that is a good development – maybe the package will be there before we get home? We looked at some statues – they had some cool unusual ones, but we weren’t really looking for us, at this point. A lady working there laughed when Mike asked for Jesus statues for his parents, and then I laughed when he asked for a Patanjali statue and they didn’t know what it was. He got a little Jesus carving, and then we got a few nick-nacks for little gifts, and then it was time to go pick up the photos. They were ready when we got there (I REALLY didn’t think they would be, so that was also a nice surprise!), and we bought the album. Then we went to have something to eat at the “Tempting Restaurant” across the street from the Hotel Apra. We were the only ones there – but the food was good. We put the photos in the album before and after food. We decided it was time to leave soon, when water started coming up from a hole in the floor and flooded our part of the restaurant. We had these guys at the hotel load up our stuff – I sat in the back seat with the sitar and wrote our note to Hukam in his book. We talked to Mr. J on the phone and said goodbye once again.
We hugged Hukam and gave him the photo album along with a gift for Lata, and his tip for taking us all over India for a month!
I’m glad we got to the airport early because it is kinda confusing – but now we wait until our ticket counter opens up…
(At least you know which bathroom to go into... ladies into the side with the huge photo of a pretty lady, gents into the side with the guy in a turban... - at Delhi Airport)
On the road again. I was happy to be going back to Delhi – one step closer to home, it seems. There wasn’t hot water in the morning. Hukam and Lata bathed in the Ganges at 6:30 that morning. I was glad not to go; it must have been freezing!
We drove back through the sugar cane fields and rows and rows of sugar-cane laden carts. We stopped for lunch at the same resort as we had on the way in – Mool Chand. It had Chilly Chicken – I’ve been averaging having meat about once a week since the new year… had more patchouli candy mouth-freshener.
It was lucky we headed back to Delhi a day early, because the car needed repairs along the way, and the traffic was really bad. Luckily, at the mechanic shop, they had the big eye decals I’ve seen on lots of the trucks that I had no idea where to buy – so I got those!
We arrived in Delhi, and went to an Emporium for tablas – Hukam kept telling Mike to wait to get them here, so he did, and he got two smallish ones – the larger one that he wanted was too big to carry with us, and it cost more than the drum itself to ship back to the States…
We then went back to the Hotel Apra and said goodbye to Lata. I noticed that they had hung the new paintings that they were carrying in on the day after we arrived back from Agra. In the lobby they had a cool orange tree picture, with the two trees making women’s faces at the middle.
Then Mike and I went out to buy a bag. We finally found a BIG duffel bag – it’s REALLY big – and also found where they sell Kingfisher, so we got some beer for the night. We took those things back to the room, and then went out in search of a Cyber café to print out the photos for Hukam and Lata’s honeymoon trip with us.
We found a few shops on the way, and a Kali (!) shrine – just down the street from the hotel! Then we found a ‘Photostat’ shop, and I spent about a half an hour there transferring pictures to their computer for printing – the guy wanted me to leave my memory card there and my list of numbers (I was not going to leave my card anywhere!). After transferring close to 100 photos to print, the computer really slowed down, and we had to transfer the rest to a second computer. Then the old guy said it would be 4 o clock instead of 1 o clock tomorrow to pick them up, since there were so many. They charged 6 rupees each print, and they also had a photo album with roses on the front – so we also got that to put the pix in.
We went back to our room - I had a shower (with semi-warm water, but not cold, anyway) and we watched some movies and drank a bit of beer, and ordered room service for dinner.
Got up, took a shower and put on my own eye makeup – only eyeliner, and did my own hair. Finished packing, and we were both ready to go by the time Hukam and Lata arrived – I made sure to quickly pick up my bags, so there was no time for lipstick, etc. Lata did put a different bindi on me while we waited to load the luggage in the car. Later, for lunch, they asked if it would be ok for me to buy lipstick and nail polish. I said “maybe”. But probably won’t.
We drove out of Rishikesh – bye, Rishikesh! See you next year! We stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. It was good – not too spicy – but not too filling, either – and if I didn’t get enough, I know Mike is probably starving. They gave us newspaper pieces for napkins – indicative of the rest of the day…
We got into Haridwar in the early afternoon – it is not very far from Rishikesh. We arrived at our hotel. It is pretty creepy and dirty. There was a sign in Hindi saying not to leave any valuables in the room. The hot water is not. I could go on… I decided I didn’t really want to do the Ganges bath scheduled for tomorrow after seeing all the trash along the river. Walking in it upstream earlier this week was a spiritual experience enough for me. I’m not sure I want to wash with a bunch of other people in trash… We are also thinking it may be better to head back to Delhi tomorrow, instead of stay here two nights. I can see the nighttime puja at the river tonight, and then we will have more time to pack and get ready back in Delhi.
We had a bit of time to wander on our own – we waited until we got our passports back, then went out in search of a bag and toilet paper (they told us we had to buy our own – there are no shops anywhere around that sold anything close to toilet paper – go figure, at the end of the trip, when we have almost ran out of what we brought).
I guess it is the kite festival – there are hundreds of tiny kites flying all over the city. We didn’t find a bag big enough.
We did see some languor – one sitting on a scooter (on the way back, we saw people feeding them peanuts by hand). Lots and lots of trash… all over – even more here, I think.
Haridwar is a crowded city – everyone keeps telling us that. It does seem that way – but looking at all the discarded food bowls and other things thrown around the ghats, it seems that there should be many more people around than I’ve been seeing.
Hukam came back to our room to take us to arti – it is a puja offering down at the Ganges. We walked back to the same ghats as we had seen earlier – only this time, many, many more people were filling in along the steps. We had a priest bless us, and we made our offering – hardened with knowledge from our Pushkar experience, I offered 100 rupees, despite his persitant “non-pressure”. Then we sat and waited for a bit ‘til it grew dark. Then chanting and drums began, and fires were lit along the banks of the river. We waited until it was done, the music stopped and the fires extinguished. Priests tried to get us to go in the temples to make offerings for arti, and we politely declined. Eventually, as the crowd dissipated somewhat, we went to gather our shoes and walked back to our hotel. We agreed to leave at 9 am the next morning back to Delhi. (The hotel owner was a bit disappointed, and then tried to be as helpful as possible – he was a nice guy – he even had rode his motorcycle out to meet the car to guide us to the hotel – there was just a bit of miscommunication, and maybe after all the construction he will have a nice hotel.)
Hukam talked to the hotel manager and we found out that there is only hot water from 7 am to 11 am, which is fine, except no one told us that, so Mike spent the first two hours or so checking to see if there was any hot water. The room was really dirty, and so were the sheets, so Hukam asked for them to be changed. I was kinda sad to see them changed – because they seemed immaculate compared to the mattresses they were covering. (“I sure hope that’s blood,” Mike told me later. Yeah.) They also brought us two dingy brown blankets, and then the manager came back to the room to ask for our card. (?) Mike gave him a business card. They brought us food to our room – it was good. The delivery guy looked surprised when Mike tipped him. We slept a fitful, almost sleep-less night in our clothes, then left for Delhi in the morning.