Friday, August 26, 2005

Last Days in Mcleod Ganj

Ofer has decided to take of for Rishakesh. I considered going there also, but really don't feel like taking the 16 hour bus ride out there. So we played our last games of Backgammon and he took a rickshaw down to Mcleod. I chose to run down. I beat him there.

After he bought a handmade drum it was time to say goodbye to my longest term comrade of this trip. Four new Israeli arrivals were at the guest house, two of them had colds. I seem to have caught it also. India has not been kind health wise. But that's to be expected in India. The next morning I met a nice Dutch couple who moved in.
Went and bought my own drum which helped kill time as I paused to play while the sky opened up on my trek back to the guest house. I was sorry to see Ofer take off, but happy to replace him with a couple of cute Israeli girls, Adi and Maya. Kudos to Adi for handing me my first chess defeat of the trip. Another rainy day.

Sat for a while and listened to the French National Geographic photograper play guitar and sing songs a little out of time. But some classics which brought back memories of Dad's playing when I was young: The Boxer, CCR, etc...

The next morning we were woken by a trumpet and a drum playing some traditional Hindu tune right outside my window. It's some sort of local Holiday and Shanti invites Enzo and I to have brunch. He goes off to work, but Vinod takes us to the "old house", an adobe structure which has been in the family 100 years. In the winter they move here for warmth. Ducking thru the low entrance we exchange greetings and the ladies serve us up delicious spiced potatoes with Chipoti (bread) and an interesting and tasty hot green and brown, semi crunchy dish made from a single leaf plant that grows locally. After that they dish us out a heaping portion of what reminded me of overdone kraft mac and cheese with more milk than cheese. And rice instead of pasta. Later on joined Adi and Maya for lunch and they taught me a card game called "Yanev" (at least that's the Hebrew name)

So my last full day in Mcleod has arrived and today I'm awoken by someone playing the flute. You don't need an alarm clock around here! We enjoyed about 2 minutes of sun and then the clouds filled in again. Monsoon is supposed to end any day now, but the last 3 days have been a washed out mess, preventing the trek I wanted to do before leaving. Oh well.So it's finally time to say farewell to Mcleod Ganj and my Dharmkot family. I paid my rent, gave Babiloo a 50 cent Euro to add to his 3 coin collection, presented Vinod my much treasured Nashbar windproof top and chilled on the terrace for the last time.Before heading down I made my way to the Vipassana Center and made a donation. Not much since I don't really like the way they do the course, but enough to cover the expenses for 10 days. And so all that is left is a trip to Dehli........

I had to take a rickshaw to the bus because the road is still washed out. We were asked to pay 10rps per bag which a German lady refused to pay and would not shut up about. Technically she is right, but she obviously doesn't get the fact that arguing incessantly over 25 cents is really disruptive to everyone elses peace and quiet.
I sat next to an English bloke and we talked about Vipassana and rolled on thru an ear popping descent into the Indian plain.

I arrived in Delhi about 7:15am and wandered thru PaharGanj in search of a room. Settled on the Anruk Hotel for 170rps. Had some breakfast and read the Indian paper. Apparently India is really screwed up.!!!! Problem after problem and corruption piled on corruption.

In the afternoon I took a stroll past Laxmi Narayan Birla Marichar (Hindu Temple) as well as a Buddhist Temple right next door. A snake charmer cornered me so I took some pics. Then he demanded 500 rps ($12) which was the best Indian joke I had heard yet. I gave him 10 rps. Continuing on I went thru Talktora Garden and it was nice to actually see something pleasant in Delhi. Made it back to the hotel just after dark and set up a wake up call and a taxi for the following morning.

Got to the airport at 7:30am and at first the flight was shown as being on time, but a few minutes later it came up as delayed. This was a good thing though since my ticket showed a departure time of 10:20am, but the actual rescheduled departure time was supposed to be 7:40am!!!!
It actually left at 1 pm. That's Air India. I killed time talking with a Spanish couple and a couple of American guys. Zach was kind enough to let me borrow his travel book for thailand so I was able to get some idea of where to go when I landed. In fact, he also gave me "The Alchemist" to read. (Which I haven't yet down.)

So here we go. Here comes Thailand....... :)