Saturday, August 30, 2008

Google Maps Itinerary Update

I've updated the map at le google. The red pin indicates where we are. The pins with black circles in the middle are places we have yet to visit.

Oh and I also want to mention how crazy it was arriving in Rishikesh. As soon as we made it into Rishikesh, we literally turned one corner and the temperature decreased by 10 degrees. It was bewildering!

The Race That Never Ends

O my goodnesssss. Inida! Mother India!! After landing, we were wisked away to Paharganj, the poorest neighborhood in New Delhi (I don't think we knew this when making reservations), where we spent two nights at Hotel Namaskar. Enormous cows and skinny dogs (many lactating but with no pups around..) wander around docily, eating whatever they find. Confettied egg shells glued together with greening yolks, shit spliced into sections from bike wheels, rotting, slimy greens, stagnant puddles of urine, old paper packages... all of these things make up the streets of Paharganj. Waste of all sorts is everywhere and it is picked over again and again until it is swept aside by some diligent street vendor and becomes permamently a part of this place, it seems. I'm glad we stayed where we did because I don't think we would have been brave enough to explore the area in depth had we approached it from a nicer side of the city. Plus the best chai I've had so far was made by a guy around the corner from us. (a cup cost Rs. 4 = 10 cents)

The driving is mayhem. NO EXAGERATION. It is a miracle there aren't accidents everywhere. (A couple times I thought we were done for.) Indian drivers make European drivers look ilke sissies - and Torontonians like babies. It is a constant race; everyone is always trying to pass everyone else. They will drive on all sides of the road at absurd speeds and the noise is deafening. (The most important part of any vehicle is its horn.) Yesterday we took a 6 hour taxi ride from New Delhi to Rishikesh (where we are now). People running through traffic, bicylces, auto-rickshaws, non-autorickshaws (a person on a bike pulling a little wagon with 2 people or so), cars, vans, buses, trucks, cows, horses and wagons... and us in the back of a car with the most determined dirver of them all. In 6 hours we were not passed once. I can't imagine how long it would have taken us to get here if my mom were driving. ;)

It is great to be here in Rishikesh. This place is les chaotic than New Delhi and we are right on the Ganges River! There is a big suspension bridge to cross the Ganges and it looks stunning from afar when filled with women in bright clothing, baskets on their heads, motorcylces, cows and mokeys.

We've got stuff to do now. We've been taking some pictures and will try to post some at some point, but I'm realizing how inadequate pictures of this place are. Being here all your senses are tantalized, challenged, spanked, awakened. The smells, the sounds, the HEAT, the flavours... of course, the visuals are quite something.

ONE MORE THING: this morning, after the most intense yoga class I've ever experienced, we flushed our nasal pasages with salt water.. and attempted to floss them. This might not make sense to you; it seems crazy to me too.

Hope everyone's doing well at home!

Alive in Rishikesh

Hello everyone,

We have survived two very, very long days in Delhi and now are enjoying a peaceful, cool time in Rishikesh. We have seen a lot of crazy things, and berated with people trying to get money from us, but it's been okay. I think we are both very happy to be gone from Delhi for now, although we miss our morning chai (over here the chai is basically orange pekoe tea with milk and sugar).

The Yoga Niketan Ashram that we are staying at is pretty lovely. We have a room together in a cabin infested with ants, a hybrid toilet with bidet and two very hard beds. The good part is that it overlooks the the Ganga river and it's fairly quiet.

We have a strict schedule while we stay at the ashram. It's as follows:

4:30am Morning Bell
5:00-6:00am Meditation
6:30-7:30am Yoga
8:00am Breakfast
-- time to do what we please, but it is recommended to study in the library --
12:00pm Lunch
3:15-4:15pm Lecture
4:00pm Tea
5:00-6:00pm Yoga
7:00-8:00pm Meditation
8:15pm Dinner
9:15-10:00pm Kirtan (Mondays and Fridays only.. not sure what this is exactly, but I know it involves singing)

We get Sundays off, except we have to clean from 6:30-7:30am. Not really sure what else to say at this point, so hope everyone is doing well back home. We are grungy over here and are looking to buy some clothing soon! Two shirts over 4 days is not a great choice!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Peter's Pack

the contents of my jam-packed backpack

1. polysporin, prescriptions, acetaminophen, burt's beeswax, sanitary spray, floss, visine, bug spray, elastic bands, toothbrush (not pictured)
2. notebook, black pen, poetry, master padlock, personalized harmonica (key of C), usb key with portable applications for safer use of cyber-caf├ęs
3. shorts, t-shirt, pillow case
4. soap!
5. blurry underwear
6. led flash light
7. lonely planet travel guide to india
8. aluminum water bottle filled with precious canadian water
9. 3 pairs of wool socks, bathing suit
10. money belt with passport and plane ticket!
11. copy of important documents
12. microfibre towel
13. kleenex, deodorant, universal plug, sleeping mask, ear plugs, tweezers, nail clippers, aaa batteries, safety pins

ca c'est tout

Yates Packed Up

the contents of my backpack - ziplocked for monsoon protection!!

1. three pair heavy duty socks, six pair undies, sunglasses
2. adult rain poncho
3. lollipops to give to children
4. first aid kit
5. to be declared: sunscreen, shampoo/conditioner, deet, toothpastes, etc.
6. camera, camera accessories, batteries
7. plane snacks, napkins, fresh sketch book, pencils, pen, a novel, big river band mouth organ (in the key of C)
8. money belt: passport, cash, etc.
9. for grimy sleeping situations: sleeping sheet bag and pillow case
10. nasty meds, probiotics, multivitamin, iron, omega-3 supplement, diva cup, floss, toothbrush, bar of soap, wet naps, tom's deodorant
11. two plain white t-shirts
12. canadiana to give as gifts
13. night vision: flashlight and candle lantern
14. micro-fibre towel
15. to be stashed away in the pack: photocopy of important docs.

O Canada

There's lots of room left. I'll throw in a roll of toilet paper..

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Travel Itinerary

We have put our travel itinerary on a map at Google Maps (also shown in sidebar). We start at New Delhi and head northeast to Rishikesh. The final location we visit is Kolkata, where we'll take a train ride back to New Delhi.

The points in the map were added in the order that we will be visiting them.