Seven years ago, I was on my second tour of India, a pilgrimage. I began where I had left off just seven months earlier, in Rishikesh. It remains one of my favorite places, a Hindu pilgrimage site on the Ganges River. Much of it is barred to vehicles (except scooters), making it a tiny bit quieter and more pedestrian-friendly than it might otherwise be. Like all of India that I had the blessing to see, it is colorful, cacophonous, with surprises around every corner.
My time in India initiated a seven-year stretch of redefining myself and my work. One aspect has been the commitment to write at least some of the journey, bits of which I have shared with you. As you can tell, it happens in fits and starts.
For the time being, I am focused on telling the stories of my journey in this amazing country and the marks it left on my body, mind and soul. You’ll be the first to see the drafts. The writing is happening in-between the part-time job, the flu, the mentoring program I’ve mentioned, and a few other potential income-producing projects.
Here is a brief excerpt from an original blog post:
“I think the word “cacophony” must have been invented for India. It may have been somewhat quieter before electricity and motors, but there would still have been the dogs, cows, chanting, etc. I am planning to switch guest houses here in large part because of sounds. Here at the Ram Jhula bridge, my room fronts onto the Ganges, but the bathroom window is on the main road through town. The traffic noise is amplified by the huge concrete arch over the road at my window, and then compounded by the presence of the taxi stand next door. This is the main drop-off and pick-up point for the village. And of course, horn-honking is mandatory in India. Amazingly enough, the traffic actually quiets down significantly between about 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
The river side noise is different. There is a long stretch of bathing ghats that function in part as a kind of concrete boardwalk along which many people travel all day long. The movement begins around 3 or 4 in the morning and includes pony strings complete with jingle bells ferrying building materials or who-knows-what along the way. The chanting also begins about the same time, and then goes again in the evening.
The general background noise includes crying children, barking dogs, drums, fireworks, and craziest of all, the pounding noise of the monkeys on the metal roofs. I thought is was thunder the other night. There is usually also some Indian pop music playing somewhere.
Tuesday: Today, I have moved. The guest house where I will be for the rest of my stay here, up the river in Laxman Jula, is the same place I stayed last year. Although a big part of the reason to move is to get away from the traffic behind me here, even more important to me is to get back to a place where I can hear the temple bells ringing. There are two big temples near the Laxman Jula bridge, which can’t be much more than a mile from the other bridge. The bells begin early in the morning and go into the evening as well. The rest of the sounds are somewhat the same, but because vehicles are limited to motorbikes and jeep taxis, the traffic noise is considerably less. The additional sound here, which I had forgotten, is that of the river herself, because there is a set of rapids just below here.”
Going through the albums and earlier chronicles has reminded me how much I loved this country, the people, the sheer overwhelm of so much life everywhere I turned. It feels good to write about it, finally.
I couldn’t do it without your help. Thanks for being here.