Now how about that photo at the top of this blog post? Nothing in India is perfect except the experience itself. The photo shows the light switches and outlets in our bathroom. The switch with the tweezers crammed into it is the hot water switch. It stopped working a few days ago. We used our MacGyver skills to make it work. The knife is stuck into the bathroom fan switch. It only functions when you hold it on with your finger. We needed it on when we showered so wee “fixed” it.
Time flies when you’re having fun so we must be having fun. It’s hard to believe we’ve been in India for over a month. It’s a good time to reflect on our experience here so far. India can be a challenging place to be. It’s loud, noisy, and dirty. But it’s also beautiful. The most beautiful part is the people. They are happy and friendly. I remember hanging around a small, crowded mobile phone repair shop at night a few weeks ago. Practicing my Hindi, I greeted everyone who came into the shop, asking how they were. Everyone responded that they were fine. After about 20 minutes the owner, Dileep, turned to me in an almost scolding way, but smiling, and said “Sir, everyone in India is fine.” He implied that I could spend my time asking everyone but I would inevitably get the same answer form everyone. He had a point. Everyone we’ve crossed paths with is friendly and happy. Think about that. A place where the per capita income is about $2500 a year and everyone you meet is happy. One quarter of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day and everyone is friendly. The lesson here: money does not buy happiness, outlook does.
In the past month we’ve stopped many times to talk with people. Whether it’s on the walkway along the Ganges River, on a bus, or just strolling through our neighborhood, everyone is warm and welcoming and eager to strike up a conversation. Some of those interactions are short while others turn into exchanging phone numbers, friending on FaceBook, or making plans for a later date. We’ve talked with folks about their work, their education, their home and of course their outlook.
OK, so you’re wondering what an average day looks like for us. It starts with waking up from a good nights sleep. We don’t have a set schedule but have gotten into a routine of doing neti pot, drinking lemon water, and meditating right after we wake up. Usually after that we make chai at home or walk 15 minutes along the river and go out for breakfast. If we aren’t volunteering that day we usually do laundry or a physical Yoga practice followed by a long walk around Rishikesh. Laundry is done by hand in the bathroom, then hanging it on the rooftop. Yoga practice is done on the rooftop too. The weather is beautiful. It’s been sunny and 75-85 everyday here with the exception of 2 days. On the days we volunteer it’s a matter of getting to a central meeting location and then onto the hospice facility or other location. I’ve spent time volunteering with Yoga, cleaning, and cooking. As nighttime approaches we decide whether we’re eating at home or going out. There are lots of nighttime walks back from dinner along the river. There are many nightly rituals along the river like fire ceremonies and chanting. A couple of times we’ve even venture into town, Rishikesh center, the marketplace. The excitement there is amazing. Most every night we run into a wedding ceremony about to begin. Below is one of many times we seen stuff like this.
We’re headed back to New Delhi next week for a 2 day layover. From there we fly to Chennai for a few days of exploration. Next onto Tiruvannamalai for a few days. From there we head to Pondicherry, which apparently recently changed it name to Puducherry without asking us. When we’re finished up with these 3 places we fly to Sri Lanka, an island country off the southern coast of India.