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.