We got up early today (or I should say, I got up early; Mike is up long before me most days), and walked down the street and across the Laxman Jhula to a restaurant for breakfast by ourselves – ironically called Moksha, which means “liberation”. It was great.
We were the only ones there (I think most of the crowds show up later – they are open ‘til 11 pm). It was great – I got some banana porridge and a musli curd and ginger tea – with fresh grated ginger! Mike got an omlete and chai. It was around 280 rs. We decided to go back for dinner despite the Ice Cube and other American music they were playing. (It wasn’t that bad, just kind of strange to be in such a peaceful spot listening to Mother F***** this and N***** that, etc. The workers were watching football when we came in, and then quickly shut of the TV and turned on the music, I guess to make us feel at home? )
We went back to some of the shops to get some other gifts. It was fun hanging out by ourselves for a while, and I felt totally safe (having hired a driver, the company feels responsible for our safety at ALL times, so is leery to let us do much on our own…).
We would like to come back here, maybe in 2013. (...Obviously, 2013 came and went - but we still want to go back! One day...) Mike can take (more) yoga teacher training, and mom can come along to hang out with me – I think she would love it here – much less crazy driving and in-your-face people, even though it is a bit touristy. I like it here. Rishikesh has been my favorite place to be so far.
We made it back to the hotel before Hukam and Lata arrived. I did my hair in a braid and used some of the clips and things Lata gave me, and even put my hair into the “chops”, as Mike refers to them, by my ears. I thought it looked ok. I got a new hairdo, though, anyway, and the bright pink lipstick again. I did buy some of the black eyeliner while we were out shopping later, though. I like that and the bindis –not much else of my “Indianification”. It was funny that one of the only English words Lata knows is “eyeliner”.
We drove down to the Ram Jhula – it is another suspension bridge further down the river from the first.
We walked a bit through the shops – I looked at some of the clothes, but didn’t buy any; maybe later. We found the bookstore that Kamal had told us about – it only had books in Hindi. We found another bookstore with books in English, and Mike bought a book.
On the bridge, lots of girls tried to sell little pieces of bread to feed the huge fish in the water below. Hukam bought some and we threw it down to the fish – big carp. One, especially, was huge! Mike or I didn’t buy any of the bread, even though the girls really tried to sell us some, going as far as to call me “Hey, baby” as we walked away. I’m fairly sure it was an insult…
We got to the other side of the river and walked a bit there. Lata got some new flip-flops, and I bought a few other weird gifts for people. I think Hukam and Lata think we are crazy for what we buy (I’m not crazy about what they recommend for us, either!).
We went to a small temple and walked around it (literally!) 4 times, and I was told not to take photos (after I had taken photos…). Oops – oh well. We debated taking a boat back across, but ended up walking back. The monkeys were fairly aggressive and territorial, so I tried to give them as much space as possible, trying to avoid the motorcycles and people carrying palm trees, or stepping on the beggars.
Down below in the water, some boys were drinking the water, and Hukam and Lata threw coins down to them. It was like a wishing well, Mike said – only they were down in it. We came back to the hotel so Mike could use the internet while Hukam and Lata had lunch.
We drove a bit out of town to a shop that sells rudraksh and crystal things from the Himalayas. I got a 4-faced rudraksh – for Brahma – a gift, and a 7 faced one – for Lakshmi – for myself and my business endeavors. I also got a mala, with 108 tiny seeds – tears of Shiva – they are seeds from trees all around India.
We went back to the hotel, and then a bit later, Mike and I went back down to Laxman Jhula and wandered a bit, then went to Moksha for a bite – a burrito – in India. It was pretty good – it had green peppers and mushrooms and things – I like this Holy city with tons of vegetarian options – I’m not sure if they have meat here at all. None that I’ve seen at any food places anyway. (I don’t think it’s allowed – though on the outskirts of town are stalls of chickens in cages…)
We packed up our stuff and ordered one last ‘Chilly Mushroom’ dinner from Garud restaurant at our hotel. Tomorrow – off to Haridwar, for two nights – then home…