Thursday, August 9, 2007

More from McLeod Grunge....err Ganj (from Lisa Sheehy)

Lisa Sheehy emails from India in fine uber-surreal form (and we can only thank her, with a sigh of envy, perhaps, and wish her and her companion Happy Landings!...):

Dear all, have not written for nearly a month! Sat down and wrote this last night and then the computer lost it - could have wept....

My last email, I was leaving fake addresses for S.... Well, we left S behind (sadly) and headed for Rishikesh - home of yoga, in search of inner peace and enlightenment. This soon evaporated on arrival after our usual bickering over where to stay (Will, just goes for the first place he sees.) After almost an hour of wondering aimlessly around in the 40 degree heat we were approached by a saddhu shouting 'beetle' beetle!' After realising that he meant the band and not the bug, we followed him towards the fab fours former ashram - tempted by the idea of sharing sweat (from the yoga mats) of John, Ringo, George and Paul. We followed him for 30 mins up a steep hill, sweating profusely, when he proudly turned around arms outstretched and exclaimed 'Beatles ashram! - 100 rupess, thankyou, please.' We were confused as all we could see were 2 rusty old gates and a dilapidated ruin. He then kindly informed us that it had been empty for 30 yrs.... At this point we did'nt know whether to laugh, cry or strangle him. We both looked at each other and said 'Help!', made our way down 'The long and winding road' and said 'We can work it out' (sorry.)

After finally finding sanctuary at another (open!) ashram, we decided to enroll in the full '3 days to enlightenment or your money back' package. This involved a 6 oclock start and hours of gravity defying yoga, meditation and lectures. We devoutly crept down at 6 looking for the meditation room, finally finding a darkened room in the bowels of the ashram. We found a seat eventually inadvertently bashing fellow students on the way. As we settled, we were aware of a glowing orange presence at the front of the room. A deep yoda like voice came from it pronouncing and elongating every syllable 'To lock your-self into the breath-less-state, contract your anus for a count of 12."

3 days later we were fully enlightened, if a little sore in the buttock it was onwards and upwards to Musoorie, an old colonial retreat developed by the english in the 1800's for when they got too hot. Today, this once charming hillstation has been transformed into the indian version of Blackpool, serving curry and rice instead of fish and chips and selling 'Marry me quick' hats. Nevertheless, it was a pretty funny place and we were glad to get away from the pollution and crowds of the city.

We spent a pleasant few days there. despite having a power cut for most of it. Luckily this did not affect our enjoyment of the funfair as the ferris wheel was powered by two men leaping from carriage to carriage like monkeys. They shouted 'Want go faster?' in thick indian accents. 'Faster!' we cried but as their combined weight was more or less equal to 3 poppodums we still only went as fast as a milk float and almost came to a complete standstill when one man slipped, sending a smelly flipflop in our direction!

Next, a hair raising bus journey to Amritsar - Punjabi capital and home to the awe inspiring sikh golden temple. The roads were twisty and the driver suicidal so I distracted myself listening to music and laughing at the comedy road signs such as 'Darling, dont nag me as I'm driving - look the scenery is charming(?)' and 'Speed thrills and kills.' All of a sudden there was a high pitched scream from Will. I turned to see him covered in a red substance. No, it was'nt blood. It was puick. Unluckily (luckily?) not his own. Seconds earlier the boy in front had projectile vomited out of his window, which had boomerangede backwards onto Will, giving him a face full of partially digested curry.

Smelly but undaunted we hit Amritsar and were bowled over by the beauty and serenity of the golden temple. From there we headed to the nearby Indian/Pakistan border to see the elaborate and hilarious changing of the guards type ceremony which they do every evening at six pm. This basically involves two stadiums full of patriotic, flag waving indians and pakistanis seperated by a gold gate, which is eventually shut after an hour or so of the worlds tallest guards mincing back and forth, high-kicking, stamping and faffing about with flags. It was all quite good natured really which is surprising considering that they were threatening nuclear war on each other not long ago!

Final destination, McLeod Ganj - home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. This was our favourite place in India, a hippy haven filled with monks, travellors, temples and chanting. The Tibetans are also real party animals and this led us to our first proper drinking session in months.....sadly this was followed by our first hangover in months. Indian Kingfisher is just slightly better than meths and drinking it is a real lottery as the alcohol is from 3 to 10%. We must of got the 10% batch!

Seeing and hearing the Dalai Lama was a real privilige, something we had both been looking forward to (though he did insist on speaking in Tibetan - the cheek of it!)

Hoping u r all well

Next installment - Sri Lanka where the men wear skirts!

Love Lisa and Will

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