It was windy in the night – and foggy in the morning. I’m not sure if it is more fog or smoke, actually, because people light fires for warmth and cooking – moreso towards the end of the day, so it gets gray. I was thankful for the heater they brought us.
We drove out of town to a small restaurant. Hukam made sure they didn’t make our food too spicy, and we had lots of chapatti, and even chai – it was 170 rupees for all four of us… (about $3.50)
We drove along the Ganges – it is really green! – and then across a bridge and up into the mountains.
(We stopped at the bridge so I could take some pictures. As we were leaving, I saw a holy man with his long hair and orange clothes. I went over and asked him if I could take his picture. I offered him money. He said no, so I figured I would give him the money anyway, but he wouldn’t take it. “No problem,” he said. A true holy man – the “others” were constantly in my face asking me to take their photo. So far, I have been turned down for almost as many photos as I’ve asked for – the waitress at our restaurant didn’t want her photo taken, either. Hukam and Lata wanted their photos, though. We are going to try and print them out for them before we leave.)
The drive up the mountain was fantastic! It was a super curvy road (think the Taos Gorge road) up the side of the mountain, through the jungle – the river far below us. We drove by lots of monkeys – lots of little baby ones, too! They were tiny, and really cute.
We drove up to a tiny village – lots of little houses on the sides of the mountains, and stepped-agriculture, so lots of the mountainside had tiered fields going up.
We parked and walked to the Shiva temple. Not too many tourists in the area – it was nice to be able to follow Hukam and Lata as they went through the temple.
We got blessed after walking around the temple – a priest stamped a golden trident on our third-eye – the sign of Shiva. Then we went into a smaller temple where a priest attended a large fire, and he put an ash spot on our forehead. We took off our shoes and socks to walk around, and you were supposed to wash your hands before you went in the temple, so there was water everywhere, and the marble was cold! It was worth it, though.
We then went to another part of the temple to get holy string tied around our wrists – for a wish, or for good luck – It’s on the right for a man; left for a woman. Everyone crowded around the priest and shoved their arms in his face, trying to be the next one he tied. I held out my arm, and finally, he started wrapping my left. He got the string a couple times around, then looked at me, and grabbed my right wrist, and started wrapping it. A lady next to me started laughing and told him something – I’m assuming that I was a girl. He looked at me again, then started wrapping my left wrist. We all laughed about it, then we left, after Mike got his wrist wrapped.
We drove back down the mountain, stopping here and there for photos.
At the bottom of the hill, back at the bridge crossing the Ganges, we stopped at a temple to Hanuman. We went inside, and put orange color on the statue, then walked around clockwise outside. We played follow-the-leader with Hukam and Lata -what they did, we did, so we touched statues if they did, backed away from the temple, etc.
Afterwards, we came back to the hotel and had masala chai in our room. Hukam said that Lata wanted to “make my hair look very nice.” So I said ok, and she braided it, then put a sparkly hair tie with bells on it on the end. She said she wants to try a new style tomorrow, before we go out walking at 1 pm.
We ordered in again for dinner, and are taking care of socks and other laundry this evening. We are watching a couple movies on the TV. Now we have a different viewpoint of certain things – like, one movie, the main girl was supposed to be a really bad driver, but by Indian standards she would be a normal driver. Same for the guy who had to leave his shoes behind after he stepped in cow poo – it is normal to walk around without shoes here… (or to step in cow poo…)