Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

We crossed over into India, and was hit by bureaucracy. Forms to be filled out as we crossed. I was more interested in what was happening between Sri Lanka and India in the cricket. The guards laughed. Was I going to have more fans here, only tie would tell. The last guard, was slightly more agitated. He asked what we had in our bags. I had lied on our forms. I had not even put down a camera, and I have shitloads of them !!! He asked if I had one, I showed him, but he wanted to see what was in my daypack. Luckily for him, I only half emptied it. He then moved onto Melvin the Irishman. He took his bag up to be x-rayed, but could not get the machine to work. He then told us to enjoy our stay in India, and to have a nice day !!! We grabbed a man to take us to Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, and then we were off.

Over the last 4 years, I worked with a Sikh, called JP. He never shut up about the Golden Temple. The Sikhs holiest place, so I really wanted to see this. But wait, there is more. I used to talk on the phone to two guys. One in Bristol, Baljinder, and one in Birmingham, Harjinder, and these two never shut up either about the Golden Temple. This place had a lot to live up to !!!

Upon arrival in town, all roads were closed, so we jumped out and grabbed a cycle rickshaw. It took us to the gates. We found the tourist info box, and they pointed out the foreigners accommodation. Free, but with a donation. Cool. Beds found, ours was in a three bedroom set up with another guy. His name was Uri, and he was from Israel. I assured him that Lucy didn't fart to loudly !!! Sandals off, head scarf on, and we were off. As soon as we stepped out, we could see it. The Golden Temple. It was quite beautiful. It is in the centre of a lake, and made of gold. We walked around the walkway at the edge, taking it in, and then we made it to the walkway. We walked out to it. There were musos playing calming music inside. There were also some priests. We went upstairs and saw another priest reading the 400 year old Guru. Up to the top, we had a look around, before we came down. First look over, we decided it was time for some lunger, free food for you non-Sikh types. Lentils, and loads of them, loads of chapatis and some rice pudding for desert. It was great for the price !!! We were walking around, taking it in, when a guy, Hari Tej Singh, came up to us to practice his English. He spoke really well, and he had loads of info on the Temple, so we took him along for the ride. We did a full circle, and then, as he had been really good to us, we decided to shout him dinner !!! lunger of course !!! Once this was over, we moved back towards the Temple, as it was getting close to 21:00. Time to put the Guru to bed. We found a spot on the first floor, overlooking it. The singing stopped, and the main priest started speaking in Pujabi. Everyone joined in. You could feel the power in the room. It was amazing, watching the process, of uncovering the Guru, and then wrapping it up. It went for around 45 minutes, then, Hari Tej said we must go down now. We ran to the bottom, and the Guru was now in a pure gold carriage, and people were jostling each other to see if they could carry it. Hari spoke to another Sikh, and next minute, I was being pushed into the crowd. I was the last one allowed out. I found a position, and I was carrying the Guru. The Sikh's holiest possession. I could not believe this was happening. Then everyone else walked away, and I was on my own. The thing weighed a ton !!! Some official Sikh's came and took it away from me. Thank god for that, my back was a wreck !!! But I was amazed. I was in shock. Words cannot be used to describe, what I had just done. We followed it up to its bed in Akal Takhat, and then it was over. We walked around, talking to various people, and then we ran into some Sikhs from Hornsby. They had an Indian takeaway in Pymble, and their son went to school around the corner from my Mum's place !!! The people you meet !!! We said our goodbyes to Hari Tej, and we went back to our lodgings. Everyone was up, talking. We went for another walk at 02:00, and the place was heaving !!! The reason being, was that India was celebrating Diwali, the following day. This was going to get even bigger.

As we had stayed up quite late, we slept in. We grabbed Melvin, and off we went and had an omelet for breakfast. It went down well. We thought we better pay our respects to the Temple, as this is what you do. We walked around, but could not get onto the walkway. We found Baba Atal Tower, climbed it, and got a superb view of the complex. Next was Jallianwala Bagh. There is a park there, but in 1919, the British decided to kill over 1500 people during a peaceful protest. Pretty heavy and quite grim. We walked around the museum. The Govenor of the Punjab who ordered this, was eventually killed by a Sikh in 1940. We moved on, back to the Golden Temple. The place was packed with people. Onto another smaller temple, in and down to see more. We walked up for some lunger, and we could not even get into the rooms. Now this place normally serves around 30000 people per day, and has a chapati making machine that can make 6000 p/h, but there were way to many people. We were sitting out on the balcony. Can't complain, normally you would pay heaps for the view we had !!! We said our goodbyes to Melvin, ditched our shoes again, and armed with a Kiwi girl called Rachael, we tried to get in to watch the fireworks display. Basically, it was impossible. We tried another entrance, but this way was blocked as well. Then we saw a door, through a room, up some stairs, and then through another door, and we were on the roof. The Sikhs were kicking everyone off who were climbing up, but left us to enjoy the performance. The one spoke, and I asked him where he was from. London !!! Southall. Home of the largest Gurdwara in Europe !!! Would you Adam and Eve it. I spoke to his family, and then they invited us for food. Where we ate, was a room that had been paid for by the British Sikh society. I felt so honoured, but personally, I think they owed me, considering the shit that Harjinder used to give me !!!!! After the food was finished, we walked a bit with the Southall family. Every time we stopped, people were asking us questions in Punjabi and wanting to shake hands. It was kind of hilarious. We were superstars in Amritsar !!! There was a darker side, however. As Lucy was walking along. loads of guys kept touching her bum. It got to much, and she told me. I turned and saw this guy smiling, so I told her to go and hit him. She ran up and hit him hard on the back. He turned and was in shock. I then got into his face and waved my finger and told him "THAT YOU DO NOT TOUCH WOMEN LIKE THAT. YOU DO IT AGAIN, I WILL KILL YOU !!!" He didn't speak English, but the tone of my voice and the wagging of my finger, I think he got the message. Because of this, we kind of had enough and it was pretty late, so we crashed for the night

Up for another English breakfast, we decided to branch out and see a little bit more of what Amritsar has to offer. We has heard that there was a Hindu Temple, which was kind of like the Golden Temple in setting, so off we walked. As we were going past the train station, we decided to buy tickets for tomorrow, as we wanted to go up into the mountains. The lines were huge, but there was a separate line for women, so I did the only thing possible, I asked Lucy to line up !!! Once she was in, I sat back to watch the carnage. It was quite amazing watching all the women trying to push in !!! Luckily, there was a policeman with a big stick, to stop this !!! As Lucy got closer, I stepped up beside her. There wee women trying to push past me, but even with the loss of 10 kilos, I still managed to push them away !!! Once bought, onwards we pushed, to the Shri Durgiana Temple. S,Smaller than the Golden Temple, but surrounded by a lake. The locals Hindus were also celebrating Diwali, and were offering food to the gods. As we walked around the outside of the lake, the local kids were letting off fireworks. They were fucking loud !!! We finished the circuit and then went to the Mata Temple. The locals push you off into a man made cave to start with. You go up and down looking at Hindu gods, through a tunnel, then into a stream. It ends back in the temple, where women are meant to pray, so that they get pregnant !!! I grabbed Lucy, and walked her straight out of there !!! We went back, and our Israeli mate, Uri, was gone. Maybe Lucy's farting had been a little to much for him !!! So we went for more lunger, as we wanted a full stomach before we met our next room mate, and lentils do make you fart !!! Dinner received, but Lucy was getting pissed off. We did not get any rice pudding for desert !!! After we finished, only the lentils of course, we went to look at the chapati making machine. It was really impressive. From the moment the dough is dropped onto a conveyor belt, to when it gets to the flame thrower oven, is about a minute. two minutes later, your chapati is ready to be eaten !!! We went back to our room, and Uri walked in with an Israeli girl, Irit. I asked him if he left because of Lucy farting and he said no it was me !!! Then Irit explained that it was actually Uri doing all the farting !!! Whilst talking to her, she explained that she was on the back of a Royal Enfield. I had spoken to some people in Pakistan about buying one and touring around, then she told me how good it is. The thought is now in my head and I now need to convince Lucy !!!

Up early, for our trip to the station. I had one last look from afar to the Temple. It was really impressive. As good as JP, Harjinder and Baljinder had told me. It was worth the wait, and now, I can't wait to go back !!!
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