Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Up in the Clouds

We missed our train to Shimla, so we took the bus. Winding through forested mountains and scattered road stands that make up villages we got up to about 2200 meters above sea level. And that's where we are now, in Shimla, were the air is thin and quite chilly.

We were initally charmed by the steep and busy streets (the town is built up and down a cluster of mountains), the colourful fabrics in the street, our room with a view... but have encountered a bunch of rather unfriendly people today, and are not feeling so energetic. We did however find some wool shawls today to keep us warm, and Pete got a cute vest and hat outfit. And we had a great lunch: vegetbale dosa's at The Indian Coffee House. The place seemed to me like an old boy's club. Waiters in pouffy formal uniforms, a bunch of old Indian men sitting around in leather chairs, drinking coffee and talking seriously in the big, dimly lit space. It was funny and the dosas were sooooooooo good.

I think we'll leave here in 2 days. We've been asked to do a trek to Kashmir, and attend the Kashmiri wedding of the guide's nephew, but it is quite a bit out of our budget.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

From Doomsday to Luxury

So we left the ashram for Dehra Dun. Oooh boy. Were they ever right. Everyone told us to just pass through Dehra Dun, but we were interested in seeing a few things first. Well... things didn't quite go as planned.

We arrived to the usual, albeit a bit more aggressive rickshaw pullers and eventually settled for a ride to the OTHER bus station (we were at the wrong one for our needs). Rs. 30 later we're there and we decide we aren't really digging all the chemical fumes of Dehra Dun and we don't mind skipping through to Chandigarh, since there would be a train headed there in 45 minutes.

So, I go and get in line at the train reservation office (right adjacent to the bus station) and wait for 30 minutes to find out that goes from Delhi through Dehra Dun to Chandigarh (and beyond) does not allow any people on it in Dehra Dun. Tough luck, but we decide to put a smile on and head to the Forest Research Institute 8km away via rickshaw. We are dropped off at the gate with our heavy backpacks and we begin our hungry, slow walk towards the grand building. Boy oh boy. It must be a kilometer inside the gates.

After expelling some sweat and complaints about the weight and strain we were under, we made it to the main building, but found out everything around is basically closed because it was Saturday. Argh!! We took a short rest and walked around the outside of the building, which was all right. It's a huge building-- larger than Buckingham Palace-- and quite impressive in its construction. I managed to discover a couple of open museums that were pretty hilarious due to the childish sculptures of forests and houses that were within them.

Wondering whether it was worth the initial walk from the gate or not, we headed back the way we came. Hello Mr. Rickshaw, please take us back to the main bus station! On to Chandigarh! Goodbye, Dehra DOOM!!

So we grabbed some grub and hopped on a bus for a not unpleasant 6 hour journey to Chandigarh. Oh, Chandigarh! How (comparatively) lovely you are!

Our hotel, Hotel Satyadeep, is the most luxurious we have stayed at so far. Soft cushions, nice blankets, a shower, and air conditioner (which we don't use), a TV with HBO and a few other movie stations in English. Complete relaxation all for Rs. 700 a night (~$9 each). We didn't plan for such luxury, but it was the cheapest room the had available (regular cheapest is Rs. 500, no AC).

Chandigarh is pretty interesting. We did our little exploration today, but most places are closed because its Sunday. Steph, however, sweet-talked some gentlemen into letting us walk around the Capital Complex (High Court, Open Hand sculpture) without our camera.

We also saw the fantastic rock garden! We took several pictures, but perhaps less than were taken of us! Groups of Indians gathered around with their cell phones dying to have their photos taken with the fabulous foreigners. I took a couple of photos documenting the event. It was pretty interesting. They LOVED it! As for details about the rock garden, well... just wait until we have some photos posted.

Oh boy, this post is getting long, but I suppose I will continue what I have started.

Feeling the beckoning of hunger, we grabbed lunch at the Mermaid Restaurant and Bar, where Steph had a pint of a fantastic Premium Kingfisher beer. Perfect for the occasion. I learned never to order hot and sour soup in India.

Filled up, we spent our calories on a 30-minute paddle boat ride around a huge man-made lake.

Where to next? Well, how about the movie theatre! We hopped on a rickshaw to Neelam Cinema, but it was not going to be showing a movie until 6pm (it was only 3:30), so we began to head into the market to look around when we were greeted by a kind sikh man named Narvinder Singh.

This man was so lovely. He was so friendly and kind and kept teaching us phrases in Hindi. We sat and talked with him for a bit and he showed us this article about him from the newspaper saying how he was the only Indian helping tourists achieve budget travel in Chandigarh. And at no cost! All he wanted was a picture of him giving a bangle and a flyer to Stephanie, which we will send him later (or perhaps Steph already has).

Turns out this kind gentleman knows the owner of the Neelam Cinema and could get us in for a few minutes for free. So he took us in and we enjoyed 5 minutes of a Bollywood movie that had already begun. It was fantastic.

We said goodbye, and returned to our hotel, stopping at a small GROCERY STORE (!!! what!!!?!!) on the way. There we relaxed for a while before heading out to this grungy internet cafe, Cyber-22, we're in now. As luck would have it, just before we left the hotel, Narvinder Singh was there! Oh how happy we make him and he us. He is a real gem. He was there meeting a girl from Greece to escort her to a bus station (not stalking us!). I was very pleased because he thought that I had a great beard :D

If I keep this up, I think I will end up with RSI, so goodbye again.

P.S. We head for Shimla by rickety train tomorrow at 12:10pm, arriving around 5.

Friday, September 26, 2008

FOOD (part 1)

I've been meaning to tell you about what I've been eating for a while now.

At the ashram, they treat us well. Breakfast is served with hot chai every morning. Sundays we eat a bowl of chicpeas; Thursdays, the blob (we don't know what it is exactly so we started going out for breakfast on Thursdays); the rest of the week either a bowl of tumeric rice or a bowl of hot, sloppy, chunky, chewy wheat and coconut porridge. Can you guess my favourite?

Lunch and dinner are the same deal: a mass of white rice (which I stopped eating 2 weeks ago when I got a cold), a bowl of dahl, a scoop of curried vegetables and fresh, hot, buttered (or not) chapati bread. Often some raw cucumbers or tomatoes are served on the side, and a guy usually goes around with a plate of green chillies if you feel like spicing things up. You can have a second helping but you've got to finish everything on your plate. That hasn't been a problem with me. I love this food.

ashram grub

Now I want to tell you about a few wicked things I've tried here in Rishikesh.

"The Himalayan Health Pancake" (Madras Cafe): A huge whole wheat pancake spread with curd and honey, decorated with slices of apple, papaya, orange, banana and pommegranite gems. SO GOOD.

Street samosas: Two of 'em in a banana leaf bowl, a sweet red sauce, hot green chilli sauce and pinch of spice on top, eaten with a wooden spoon. (Pete's already mentioned the ones we get at The Office.)

large masala chai and a chocolate banana samosa

"Lemon Nana": Fresh mint lemonade in slushy form.

"Origanic Greek Salad" (Prem Namaste Cafe): A bed of cabage topped with tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, grilled potato and eggplant, pineapple, mixed nuts, raisins, parsley - sweet and creamy dressing. I didn't mind that it wasn't your typical Greek salad; it was nice to eat all those raw veggies.

Traditional rice pudding: On the 12th anniversary of Shayla Mataji's husband's death, we were served this for desert. (Shayla is an old holy woman who has lived at the ashram for, like, 30 years.) It is so creamy and comforting, made with tiny rice and lots of cardamonn. Mmmmm..

Crazy peanut sweet: Everyone loves this stuff. It's kind of like fudge. Twice I've been handed a piece on the street as I I came across a parade; we also get a piece every Monday and Friday night after Kirtan.

Images of Rishikesh

Ram Julah Bridge, ~10 min walk from our ashram

Pete in a quiet street

sweet spot

back when his beard was tame

pretty young women

objects of worship

behold the Ganges!

Leprosy Bibing Hall

Yoga Niketan after breakfast


flight of the monkey

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

30 days later

Hari Om!

We have officially been out of Canada for 30 days! Hope you guys are surviving without us ;>. We will be leaving the ashram on Saturday and continuing our journey of India, of which 84 days remain.

Our upcoming plan includes:

Dehra Dun Forest Research Institute Museum, Great Stupa & Buddha Statue
Chandigarh High Court, Open Hand, Nek Chand Fantasy Rock Garden
Shimla Viceregal Lodge, Himalayan Bird Park, Jakhu Temple, and maybe a pony ride!
Manali Nature Park, Buddhist Monasteries, Hadimba Temple
McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala) Tsuglagkhang Complex, Secretariat of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Tsechokling Gompa
Amritsar Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Ram Bagh

We are toying with the idea of a 10 day Buddhist meditation retreat in McLeod Ganj, which would include intense practice of vipassana meditation (mindfulness meditation) and complete silence.

Note: I have made an update to the Lecture post to reflect some information that he has added recently, namely that only one of the steps is required for an aspirant to reach purification.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Neti (Nasal Irrigation)

Due to undesirable weather conditions, we were unable to practice neti in class yesterday morning (bummer!!)

However, being the enterprising individuals that we are, we purchased ourselves our very own neti bottles and cleansed our nasal passages on our own. Unfortunately we still do not have the rubber tubes you use for flossing, although I may pick some up today.

Here is the wikipedia article on neti: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasal_irrigation
The benefits of the treatment include:
  • Clearer vision due to cleaning of the tear ducts
  • Decreased use of medication
  • Deeper, more relaxed breathing
  • Improved sense of smell and taste
  • Improved sinus-related quality of life
  • Reduction of symptoms

If you're interested in getting a neti bottle... maybe we can pick one up for you. We can get some fairly small, travel-friendly sized plastic neti bottles here for cheap, so let us know!


Hari Om!

This mantra we recite before every meal and it is occasionally recited before commencing meditation and yoga asana class.
om saha na vatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha veeryam karava vahai
tejasvainav adheetam astu
ma vidvisha vahai
om shantih shantih shantih

It is explained as
Om may he protect us both (the teacher and the taught)
By revealing knowledge, may he protect us both (by vouchsafing the results of knowledge)
May we attain vigour together
Let what we study be invigorating
May we never quarrel with each other
Om peace peace peace

I've got a sore throat! Time for some honey-lemon-ginger tea :)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wash Away Your Sins

On our day off, five of us from the ashram went rafting down the Ganges River. After paying the feisty Indian and eating a big pancake breakfast, we piled into a truck full of moldy life jackets and helmets built for small heads. The three back seats being taken, Juliana, our German friend, and I daintily climbed and sat atop the deflated raft in the back of the truck. Before take off, three Indians sat on top of our friends in the truck and four more hopped in the back with us. And so we were off, moving parallel to the Ganga, zooming up the dusty mountain.

After some time on the road, we climbed down to the river bank carrying our gear. The Indians ran for the water and threw themselves in it. I waded in up to my knees while the trip leaders pumped up the rafts.

The love people around here have for this river is remarkable. "Bathe in the Ganga and you will wash away your sins," they tell us. This water, which we have heard is filthy, they believe is the purest in the world. It is often called "The Holy River". Every night at sunset in a temple in town a huge ceremony is held to worship and thank the Ganga. For Rs. 5 at a public ghat (bathing place) you can buy a small bowl made of banana leaves, filled with flowers, incense sometimes, and a small candle to offer as a sacrifice to her, the river. I have done this a couple times. She is quite a sight when black with night and adorned with glowing gifts following her downstream.

So on the Ganga we went! We passed under busy bridges, paddled hard through tumbling rapids, and then when the river moved more smoothly, our leader told us to get out of the raft. We floated with the Ganga - in the Ganga! All the while Indians were waving from shore, tall grass was swaying with the beat of an unheard rhythm, roots went running down to lick the wet rocks, mountains were moving behind one another, trees marching atop them. Experiencing the scenery in this way was magnificent. At some points I did not know that I was not the river herself.


Since it's been a while since we last post (and because the last time I went to a cyber cafe I couldn't remember what I wanted to post about), I am posting on another subject as well today.

The subject is Tratak, a process which vastly improves concentration, is one of the methods of purification (that I left out in my earlier post), and is said to improve eyesight.

There are two different approaches a beginner may take and I will mention both.

1. Draw a black spot on a sheet of white paper big enough to nearly fill your field of vision. Spend a few days just staring at this and concentrating on it. You are ready to move on when you can narrow your field of vision to see only the spot. Then shrink the size of the spot. Continue doing this process until you the spot is 1 inch in diameter.

2. Choose an object of "best choice", something that you love most, that you feel no aversion to. Place it before you at a looking distance (about 3 feet in front of you while seated). Concentrate on this object.

In the above two methods, when I say concentrate, I mean that you will stare at the object and that is it. You stare at it until you feel light strain in your eyes or until the point of tears. When you feel the strain, close your eyes and visualize the object. When you are ready, open your eyes again and repeat the process.

Eventually you will move beyond circles and favourable objects to neutral objects.

That is the first step. The second step is to sit and try to draw the image of the object from memory. Close your eyes and try to visualize the object which you focused on (this does not apply to the black circle). This is called remembrance.

The third step is to assemble a group of objects and do tratak and remembrance on each one.

The fourth step is to go to a solitary, peaceful place. Sit down and think of someone who you love most. This person is already in your memory, so you can simply close your eyes and visualize them.

While visualizing and concentrating, there are two different practices. You can either attempt to have no thoughts and simply observe the object, or you can think of all attributes of the object and gain deep knowledge about it.

For instance, if you are doing tratak on a flower, you may think of its colour, its structure, the texture of the petals, but you should not be lead astray by tangents and begin thinking about bouquets, weddings, families, etc.

If you are attempting to have no thoughts, it is unadvisable to try to force thoughts out of your mind. Resistance = Persistence. Instead, gently bring your mind back to focusing on the object.

Once you have mastered tratak, you will be able to computerize your memory and be able to relive experiences that you have had in the past. Say you visit a very beautiful garden, but it will not be easy for you to return there. Then you can practice tratak on the garden and keep it in your memory. By remembrance, you can "open the key to memory", and be there whenever you please.

Nasal Flossing

Howdy doodah! (There is a greek man here who always says that to me and chuckles. I think he thinks that it is a common Canadian greeting.)

I hope everyone is doing well in Canada. We're doing great here in India, although the past few days have been very hot. Today is beautifully cool. :)

Last Saturday we had our second nasal cleansing. I think we are both fairly proficient at pouring water in one nostril and having it come out the other now. We didn't attempt the pushing from mouth to nose, but we did do the nasal flossing with a rubber string.

That's where things got interesting. I was very determined to do it this week, and I was having no success. While I kept trying to stuff this string up my nose I could hear Steph laughing and speaking exasperatedly with a yoga teacher who was helping her stuff it down her nose (whether she liked it or not). I tried and tried and tried and had no luck. Soon there was only 3 people still attempting to do it and the yoga teacher, Naveen, who had previously been helping Steph approached me.

"May I?" Of course! And so he began stuffing it down my nose for me. Wrong hole. Wrong hole. Wrong hole. Oh this time we got the right hole. OK Now reach and grab it! Do not worry, this is only a problem for first time (gag reflex). You do it. Nononono do not pull it out. Too late, I couldn't get over the gagging and I had to withdraw the string (it is more like a thin tube with 1 closed end). He left me be for a bit and I kept trying, but I could not get it down the right hole.

Eventually I was the only one still trying to do it. Then Naveen came over to help me once more. He said, "This time you do it. I will do it for you." Not knowing exactly what this meant, I agreed. Wrong hole. Wrong hole. Right hole! And down it went again to the back of my throat. "I think this is right way. Yes this is right way."

Now it was in there and I soon learned what he meant by "I will do it". I started reaching in to grab the tube and he shoved my elbow, pushing my fingers deep into my throat. I grabbed the tube and pulled it out my mouth! SUCCESS!! And so I began flossing, posing for photographs, and salivating like crazy. Unfortunately, we didn't get any photographs, since our batteries were dead, but hopefully someone will send them to us.

When I was satisfied, I pulled it out my mouth and that was that. Can't wait to try again next week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Short and Sweet

Just a short one today.

Steph has started to eat meals very quickly. It's fascinating and surprising. She is very proud and also somewhat alarmed. At least she smiles and mmms occasionally (when we get this cabbage dish and in the mornings when we have porridge) ;>

The restaurant where we purchase our delicious fruit samosas from is called The Office. FANTASTIC! We are heading there in a couple of minutes for another unforgettable indulgence...mmm....

A bientot

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indian Beauty

I had an ayurvedic massage today at a beauty parlour in the oldest temple in Rishikesh. I booked it yesterday when my body was a heap of aching muscles, and my timing was a bit unlucky because today was the first day since I've been here (doing yoga twice a day) that my body felt just fine. I went anyway.

There is no blanket to hide under and the masseuse does not leave the room for you to undress. She closes the curtains, crosses her arms acorss her big bust and tells you take your clothes off. The only nonesense involved in the undressing, perhaps, is taht the underpants are not removed. As Bublee, that's her name, massaged up my thighs, she went ahead and tucked my undies tightly between my bum cheeks so she could get to work on my buttocks.

The oil used is supposedly a healthy, herbal, medicinal oil. It has the distinct scent of very sweet black licorice allsorts. Nearly your entire body gets covered with the stuff; she even rubs it into your face, behind your ears, between your toes, into your scalp. Aside from the occasional fingernail scratch, and maybe the thong, the only uncomfortable thing about the massage was while lying on my stomach, Bublee spontaneously - magically! - in one motion thrust my heel to my bum and cracked all my toes.

I visited the beauty parlour earlier in the week to get henna on my hands and feet. I sat on a bed while Madu, the owner, drew and her sister smiled at me and asked me questions. Pretty girls came and went from the room, always curious, always giggling. Many told me I have a beautiful face, but they can't understand why I wear my hair short like a child or a boy. Madu's 2 year old nephew was ripping around the room, shouting and grabbing at things, until he took notice of me. He insisted that I have a bindi, a dot between the eyes that married women wear. My hands were locked in a rigid position so as not to disturb Madu's work, and so the sister, delighted, stuck a big, circular velvet sticker on my forhead. Everyone laughed, and the boy seemed satisfied.

henna'ed feet, waiting to dry

shine from a sugar and lemon juice mixture


Hari om!

Today I would like to expand on a certain part of our schedule, the lecture. Monday through Saturday, at 3:15, we have the opportunity of grabbing a cushion and sitting around a wise old man and listening to him speak.

This man, this swami, has a thick beard and wavy white hair (both around 3 inches in length) and a very gnarly nose. He is 87 years old and lives at just about the highest point in the ashram, which is very impressive, since he walks (very slowly) all the way there and back several times a day without the help of a cane.

There are usually very few people (1-5) at the lecture. It seems that many people will come on their first day and never return-- most because they cannot understand what he is saying due to his accent and their unfamiliarity with english. I, luckily, can understand very clearly and have been attending regularly for the past week and a half.

His speech is very repetitive, which helps things sink in, as well as build up patience in the listener ;>. He says the same things to all the new people:

First you comes purification. Then comes concentration. Then comes meditation. Then comes realization.

The question comes, how to purify the mind? I will tell you. The aspirant must only choose one that he likes best. Only one is necessary for purification. When you wish to teach others, you must practice them all.

First Truth, universal love, selfless-service. You cannot have purification without this.

Second Recitation of mantra. Loud recitation of mantra brings physical purification. Mental recitation of mantra brings mental purification.

Third Bhojan Kirtan. The singing of devotional songs and playing with musical instruments. Singing of devotional songs brings internal purification and playing of musical instruments brings external purification.

Fourth Listening to Kirtan. Listening to devotional songs with concentration will bring purification.

Fifth Tratak.
Sixth Pranayama. There is simple, medium, and high pranayama. Simple pranayama is breathe in, breathe out. Close left nostril, breathe in, breathe out. Open left nostril, close right nostril, breathe in, breathe out. This is single clearance. Close left nostril, breathe in, open left and close right, breathe out. Breathe in left nostril, breathe out right nostril. This is cross clearance. Then breathe in both nostrils, breathe out both nostrils. This is full clearance.

Medium pranayama is breathe in, breathe out. Stop. It uses same techniques.

High pranayama is breathe in, stop. Breathe out. It uses same techniques.

Seventh Silence. The sky is the embodiment of supreme silence. When the mind is silent, it is absorbed in the sky. It is like a rain drop falling in the ocean. When it has fallen, one cannot say where is the rain drop.

The main goal of the lecture is first to answer any questions the students have. Once all questions have been exhausted, he speaks to us on whichever topic he feels like.

Anyway, that's all for now. Hope you enjoyed this little peek into our daily lives! Thanks for all the comments :)


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rise and Chai


This week has been tough - both physically and mentally. Between morning and evening yoga and meditation, meals, clothes washing, studying hindi and an afternoon nap (that is necessary to not falling asleep during evening meditation), there is little room for down-time. We're keeping our heads above water though..

I will certainly write about all the food I've consumed in detail, but not right now. It's time for chai. Just to be clear, chai is made by boiling fresh creamy milk with sugar and masala spice mix. It's a big deal around here - and it makes sense. Not only does the milk nourish the body, this little cup of flavour is a small pleasure in the lives of many people who have very little.

where we're at

a view from our ashram

sunset on the Ganges

Mountain Falls, We Survive

Today is Sunday, and our schedule tells us that it is our day off (sidhu I believe). At this point, I'm beginning to wonder whether or not that's a good thing. Today we went on a grand adventure to a waterfall up in a small mountain.

After climbing up it for forever, we reached the glorious tiny pool of water where we swam to our heart's delight. Then Steph thought it would be fun to keep going up and seeing what we could, so we climbed for another few eternities before reaching a tiny temple (the size of a large dog-house). That's when we decided it was time to head back down.

Each step was a shaking struggle, but we did it.

What did we find at the bottom of the mountain? Nothing other than a traffic jam! So we kept walking, walking, walking and eventually made it back home. To think we started the day mending our sore hamstrings-- I don't want to think of what life will be like tomorrow morning.

We took some cool photos while we were up there, which we'll happily share when we get back. It's hard to upload any while we're here since they are rather large and the connection to most sites we visit is very slow.

On another note, we discovered a "restaurant" where they serve fruit-filled samosas! Apples! Banana Chocolate! Coconut Chocolate! MMmmmmmmmmmm!! Sooo good. I think I will have a few banana chocolates after this posting...

Life in India is swell, although I'm sad to have missed my Raja-G biscuits today (Steph convinced me to come to the cyber cafe and thus miss tea time).

Om shantih shantih shantih

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ashram Life

Turns out the cool air on our first day in Rishikesh was not common place. After walking for hours in the extreme heat of Delhi the day before arriving, my feet were so swollen they no longer fit my sandals. (I hammered in a couple new holes using fine tweezers and a masterlock.) Not as hot as Delhi, but it sure is HOT around here. A bit of rain now and then, tail-ending the monsoon season, brings moments of relief but otherwise after breakfast I am sweating until dusk.

The yoga has been amazing - we are both very sore from our sessions yesterday - and the pranayama (special deep cleansing breathing techniques) feels very powerful to me. Unfortunately, the meditation has been a struggle. Getting up to meditate at sunrise or trying to meditate at the end of a long hot day as the sun sets has proven to be very difficult when we're so tired. I keep nodding off. I think we're going to try out afternoon naps and see if things get better.

There are lots of neat people staying at the ashram. A couple from Germany, a world traveller originally from Ohio, many from Japan (this ashram is well known there), a sweet woman from Korea... and the staff are all really great. One old guy told Pete he'd better get rid of his beard. "Only old men have beards here." He, however, had none.

Neither of us have gotten sick yet. (I hope I don't jinx us.) We've voluntarily introduced some of the Indian water into our system by brsuhing our teeth with it, washing our dishes with it. I have a feeling the acidophilis (probiotic) we're both taking is helping.

On with the day!

Deep inhale, deep exhale

Just thought I'd check in to tell you guys about our flight to India. We left Pearson International and got to Newark without any problems. Leaving Newark we had to it on the plane for about an hour before lift off, presumably waiting for a runway to become available. This felt like an uncomfortable eternity.

Once we finally had lift off, we could tune into our personal LCD screens mounted in back of the headrests of the chairs in front of us. Many options were available. We could watch anything our heart desired, with a choice of about 100 television shows and 300 movies available to us. We also had the option of playing low-tech video games, since our personal remote control tripled as a video game controller and keyboard.

We ended up playing sudoku and space invaders, as well as watching some Curb Your Enthusiasm-- very funny. I think Steph watched Maid of Honor while I watched Pulp Fiction.

As for the number of people on the flight, there was far from maximum capacity. We were the only two in our three-seat section, which granted us the luxury of taking turns lying down to sleep.

How about the food? Not bad. Really! Not great, of course, but definitely not the worst food we have ever eaten. Although I wasn't too into the plain yogurt, or the vegan burger Steph had.

All in all, it was fairly comfortable flight, and it's time to sign off!