|Today we awoke (several times) to the noises of early morning action on the Ghat below our room window, and by 6:30 to the sun rising over the Ganges through the mist/haze/smog. Chai and coffee on the roof top terrace, along with 19 Londoners on tour with a Brazilian leader.
With bad instructions, we girded our loins, and headed out on our own through the myriad narrow alleys in the maze heading eventually to the main road. Just like the casbah! Goats, Bulls, people, poop of all kinds, miniature stalls, and smaller sleeping spots. Eventually the throng of Londoners caught up to us and we felt we might be on the right track. They needed to catch a bus to Sarnath, where the Buddah taught, and where we might go tomorrow.
We emerged after ten minutes onto the noisy, filthy, congested main road, where upon a very short, scamming, Indian man attached himself to Jud, but led us to a clean South Indian restaurant. The gastronomic desires of the boys is fulfilled! Dosa, idli, vada, sambhar, coconut chutney, etc.
Unfortunately for us he reappeared after we exited the restaurant, leading us through the maze to his tiny shop, where Jud bought several silk shawls and Brian wandered off and got lost, putting horrors into all of us, especially the shopkeeper. After 15 minutes of searching for him, he reappeared showing off some sandlewood beads. We berated him!!!
If someone could tell Ann Novack from the club that I bought her some fabric today, I would appreciate it. 6 meters of two toned blue sari, with green patterned edging.
She is the only one who put in a request. Oh, and Macey, I have some Ganesh items for you and Sharon.
We changed rooms at the hotel so we could be on the same floor. Jud's has a large bed, and a nice balcony. Ours has a bed accessible on both sides (important in the night!) for bathroom accessibility, and a tiny balcony. We have to keep the balcony doors closed so the monkeys don't come in, take our stuff, and destroy the room.
We walked down the Ghats toward the north, trying to get to the Kali Viswanath Temple, and walked, and walked - through tiny lanes packed with thousands of worshippers, lined with thousands of minuscule cheek-by-jowl shops, and guarded by hundreds of army officers. Being Sunday and therefor temple day, I guess they take no chances with crowds and riots. By the time we were sent to Gate number two for foreigners, we were packed in with crazy fervent bodies, but no cell phones nor cameras, nor tablets allowed. We left without getting in.
Then we headed south along the Ghats, shrugging off begging children, eventually climbing hundreds of stairs, (Jud bought a lovely carved stick of heavy wood, maybe rosewood), winding our way through the lanes, and we found a tuk tuk to take us to the Hanuman Temple. Jud was sorely disappointed with the smallness of it, and Brian didn't want to leave his shoes, so not a great experience. I left a marigold garland for the altar.
Another tuk tuk driver took us to a decent restaurant, and we had him join us since we ordered too much food. He seemed a bit drunk or high on paan and methamphetamines, and drove like a bat out of hell, scaring the bejeezez out of us amongst the rickshaws, bulls, traffic, and dust at sunset. His tuk tuk kept crapping out, and he'd have to keep the revs up to keep it operating, when he wasn't restarting it over and over again. Then back to the the Ghats with him where he led us through the maze to the water.
I got bombarded with tiny ladies and children selling tea light candles and flowers to be lit and placed in the flowing Ganges for souls who have departed. I bought ten. With much haggling with three separate boat owners we finally climbed aboard and under a blood red (through the smog/haze) full moon, rowed in the direction of our hotel while lighting the candles and setting them and the flowers adrift on the magical, spiritual, ever flowing Mother Ganga.
We placed them carefully for my mother, my father, Brian's mother, Sandy Stevenson, Marg McKee, Jackie McLean, Connie O'Marr, two friends of Jud's (Angus and Trueman), and our Guru. While also thinking of Sharon and Darlene's mother, and Macey's father. The lights kept bobbing and floating - some downstream, some upstream, very brightly for a long time after we docked and headed to the hotel.
We heard from Sheeja today and all is well. Power outages and no wifi kept the phones dead, but they are all fine, except her brother, Shaji's house is flooded and he must have his family move in with his in-laws.