Pondy to Gangees
Trip Start Sep 07, 2004
53Trip End Aug 15, 2005
We checked out of our hotel and stayed with Ranjit the following night on his request and for free. He took us to a gorgeous beach in the afternoon and for dinner we all drank wine and ate bread and cheese. We whiled away the hours talking about Hinduism and spirituality. Ranjit is setting his house up as an Ashram and will use his Guru name of Punjabi Baba, and seen as though I once had this crazy idea when I was 16 of living in an ashram for the rest of life meditating and seeking enlightenment I thought I'd at least spend one night conversing with a guru about the meaning of life
Obviously we slept in the room facing the temple and were awoken at 5am with drums, but I donned my precious ear plugs and slept soundly again.
Ranjit took us to the bus stand the following afternoon to get our 4 hour bus to Chennai and from there a train to Delhi. Chennai was once again a horrid experience and the smog and smell was gross. We got into a rickshaw from the bus station to take us to the train station and for 10 minutes the driver kept stopping the vehicle to look for oil or gas or the thing kept conking out, finally we said we'd just get another one as we hadn't got time as we had a train to catch. So we flagged down another rickshaw and climbed in with our rucksacks. Even though we'd only gone an 8th of the way to our destination and had agreed to pay 60 rupees the previous rickshaw driver demanded we pay 50 rupees!!! we offered him 20 rupees and asked our current driver to go. He refused until we gave the other guy his 50 rupees!. We argued our case but to no avail and at this point there were kids listening and laughing (as I was effing and blinding) and we needed to be at the train station pronto and hadn't got the time to argue. So we gave him the money and drove on with me still writhing in the back, cursing rickshaw drivers and India in general! At the train station it didn't get better as Rich and I were sat outside having a fag we were told to go away as you're not allowed to smoke in public places, fuck me!! The place is one dirty, smelly, dusty, smoggy, infested place where women shit on bathroom floors and I can't have a fag outside a train station!! I was still cursing India and was ready to leave and go to Hong Kong. We then had a 33 hour journey to the capital and treated ourselves to a 2 tier air con compartment which we shared with another Indian couple. Unfortunately they had the bottom bunks and we had the top two, which meant that we had to sit, read and sleep up there for the whole duration, missing the outside world from the windows below
On our first day in Laxman Jhula we walked about the beautiful town, and strolled down to the side of the Gangees where there is a little beach and we had our first bathe in the holy water, it was the freshest and coldest water we experienced for a while and there is certainly something very special about it. We stayed by the river for a few hours in total bliss before we climbed the many steps to the top of one of the temples ringing the many bells on the way up. As we crossed the suspension bridge on our way home we went to try and find Bengali Baba to give him his gift and Punjabi Baba's regards. It was not as difficult as we first thought as the first person we asked and showed a photo which Ranjit had given us he just pointed 20 yards down the road and there he was sitting on the side of the street with a Sadhu. So we introduced ourselves and gave him his 100 rupees from Ranjit and said we'd pop by the next day for some chai.
That night it was a full moon and we saw a flyer for a full moon party. Considering I don't smoke hashish and you can't drink alcohol in Rishikesh as its a holy town I was intrigued as to what the party would be like for me. As it turned out, after we walked up a very steep hill to the venue there was nothing going off at all, it was completely dead
The next day we caught up with Bengali Baba and he invited us to his hut half a K further down from the town by the river. Oh my god! what a stunning place this guy lives! I can't wait till we can upload the pictures for you but in the mean time I'll tell you. It is a tiny wooden hut right by the Gangees with undisturbed views all around of the mountains and nearby a beachy part of the river. Bengali Baba is a guy of 50 who has lived in Laxman Jhula for the past 20 years, the last 6 in his hut and for the previous 14 in 2 caves. He has long dark hair, twinkly eyes and a shiny baby-like face that glows with health and good heartedness, a lovely voice and a playful sense of humor - a lovely chappy indeed. After many years of yoga and meditation he has undoubtedly added years on his life took years off looks. We sat with him and his friends and they smoked a joint, while we talked about Hindu/Gangees legend and the nature of life. He invited us to go round to his at 9 the next morning for some yoga lessons but we didn't quite make it out of bed in time today!! I think we'll pop round later on and enjoy the rest of the afternoon in bliss.