Hukam met us later this morning – 10:30. We paid for the rest of our stay – ½ the price for 4 days less than our Rajisthan Adventure tour. Mr. J, the owner of Namaste Tours, said we were honored guests, and we could pay whenever we wanted to. I think he liked us so much because we really don’t complain about anything… We also got to meet Hukam’s wife Lata (which means ‘reed’ – Hukam asked if it was ok for her to come with us to Rishikesh, as she had never been there before. We said: of course!). They were both dressed up – she doesn’t speak English, so we didn’t really talk to each other, but greeted each other, then were off to Rishikesh, up in the mountains!
We got outside of Delhi – which has many towns/suburbs around it – it is a huge metropolis – and then we were in farmland.
Huge fields of sugarcane. Everywhere. That was pretty much the view all the way. We also saw some sugar factories – with huge piles of sugar outside. I’m talking like 4-story high piles – huge.
All around were people harvesting sugar cane, chewing on sugar cane, loading sugarcane onto ox-drawn carts, loading it onto trucks with caterpillar claws, lining up all the oxen carts/water buffalo carts/horse-drawn carts filled with sugar cane to take to the factory. There were trees, too. Palm trees, and tall skinny ones they planted in rows in the sugarcane fields. (And mango tree forests!)
We stopped for lunch at the Moolchand Resort. Lata was tired, and not really feeling so well – and I think getting used to being around us. Hukam ordered food for us – it was pretty spicy so Mike ended up finishing mine.
It was a beautiful place – nice garden around – so I took a bunch of pictures, then we were back on the road. (Most restaurants give you some type of “mouth-freshener” after your meal. This place gave us green “pop-corn” candies that tasted like patchouli – not so great. ) Mmmm…patchouli candy…
While driving, we passed many cow-poo houses. They make these round patties and dry them in the sun. Then they stack them up in a circular form, and put a pitched roof on top – usually grass or something. These cow-poo houses also had cow-poo plaster, and many had designs stamped into the outer walls – much like the rug designs we had seen earlier carved into the sandstone walls at Fatephur Sikri.
I’ve been thinking about all that we’ve experienced here so far… There has been so much. Some other things I wanted to write about: in Udaipur, we saw a man rolling to the temple. He has a cart pulled by a horse, and his wife was on the cart, and he had a long piece of cloth that he held onto, that was also attached to the cart. He rolled over and over in the street – wearing just a white diaper-looking garment…
While we were riding the elephant up to the Amber Fort, all these photographers lined the walls and took our picture as we rode up (they all crowded the walls, especially across from the “No Photographers Allowed” sign). They talked to us as we passed – switching from English to French to Spanish, trying to get our attention and agree to meet them later to buy the portrait they took of us. “Adios!” they called to us…
Many of the busses and trucks have horns that play little songs. While we were in Pushkar, a bus backing up played “Fur Elise” as its warning reverse sound…
So many people here have shirts from the U.S. – at least with letters stating “Vancouver, U.S.”, or “Alaska” with sea otters (on a little boy selling things outside Delhi). Our guide at Fatephur Sikri has a shirt that had “U.S. Armed Forces” on it. I also see knockoff brands all over – Abibas; Reedok. My favorite shirt so far has been “Being Human” (which I later found out was a TV show, and not a very good one…) I’ve seen quite a few – I think I will buy one if I see one for sale.
We got into Haridwar just before dark. We got stopped at a checkpoint. They made me get out of the car, and started asking me questions in Hindi. I told them “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.” “Open bag!” they said, so I went to open my bag. The second my hand touched the zipper to open it, another guard said “Ok, ok” and we got back in the car. I guess they just wanted to see if I was going to cooperate. (Hukam later told us that he was nervous because he had whiskey, and Rishikesh is a Holy City – dry, but he had his wife put the whiskey in her bag…)
It was almost dark, but we got our first look at the Holy Ganges – It is a big river. We rode in the dark the rest of the way to Rishikesh, and then Hukam had to find our hotel. He said that it had been “six… no, four years” since he had been to Rishikesh. He came here to scatter his first wife’s ashes in the Ganges – his son was small then, he said, but that he did everything…
We got to our room – it looks out to the mountains, and you can just see the Holy River between buildings. Our windows are curved out towards it. We will stay here for seven days. We ordered room service, and at in – up in our room.