not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Flowing to Rishikesh

Things have a way of working out for me even when they don't...if that makes sense.

My taxi arrived to the airport on time, I made my flight (despite some last minute drama about one of my bags not having the proper "tag"), and even arrived into Delhi a few minutes early. Despite everyone's whoa's and warnings about this hectic city, I found my arrival to be pretty standard. The pre-paid, government regulated taxi stands that are in the airport make travel really easy. There is a list with a flat rate to wherever you could want to go- this is nice because there's no stress of haggling a price or getting taken advantage of. The price is the price and that's that. Also, I find that I feel a bit safer in these pre-arranged taxis than I do with some joe-schmo who's grabbing at my arms and hollering for business. So you tell the man behind the counter where you want to go, you pay, he gives you a reciept/slip, which you then hand to your driver they assign and off you go. I arrived at Old Delhi Railway station with about an hour to spare. The train was delayed an hour and a half, so I settled up into the smelly, dirty station and threw back some chai's (at 7rs a piece) and had some local rice and bagii (for 10rs). I had asked nearly every single person from the train station if I was "in the right place" and "had the right ticket"....typical Asia they all smiled and replied "yes madam, no worries" with a smile and the infamous Indian head wobble. Well long story short, I was in the right place with the wrong ticket, and by the time I eventually forced someone to *really* look at my ticket it was too late. I was on the verge of a meltdown: 11pm in a sketchy train station, completely alone, in a city that doesn't have the best reputation with single females traveling solo, and there were no more trains- going anywhere- until 4:30am the next morning. The man behind the counter noticed my near-emotional-freak out and told me to come around into the office. He sat with me and explained my options. He got me a chai and we looked at time tables and different routes. My options for the evening were to grab a strange taxi, find a hotel nearby, and then get another strange taxi at a dodgy time of night to return to the bus station. After my solo late night traveling scare in Sri Lanka I decided that the safest option was to stay put. And after sitting for a few minutes with Rajeesh and the other gentleman working the ticket counter I decided that the safest place to be for the night was right where I was- with them, in the office. Though I was desperate for sleep I wasn't going to push my luck and put my trust fully into these I rallied, pushed through and pounded chai's from 11pm until 5am. The guys were great. We had many visitors who came to check out the white woman whom was camping in the office. The guys took great care of me, keeping me supplied with a steady flow of chai's, water and snacks. They even bought me fresh, delicious, spicy samosas at 4am. And they never took a penny, which I at first found annoying but then surrendered to their hospitality- because they were thoroughly offended whenever I attempted to give them money. I played guitar for them and they asked me a thousand and one questions. I hate to lie, but again, assessing the situation (and India's obsession with marriage), I told them that I was married. Most travel books advise women to travel with a wedding ring to get the message across to men that there attention is not wanted. I think that the marriage claim laid down any boundaries that needed to be set. Thankfully I had some great pictures of Stuart and I from Sri Lanka that sufficed for pictures of my "hubby" and me. They were sad to see me go this morning, they even walked me to my gate, and they made me promise to stop by the office next time that I pass through the old Delhi railway station. 

And now, for the best part of the story! The train that I'm on is Rishikesh bound! When traveling I've learned to be open and available to whatever fluctuations and fuss that comes up, and to never be attached to a plan. I really wanted to do the Tushita really, really, really was physically, emotionally, and mentally in a great place to embark on this journey. Alas, it just wasn't my time. Not only did I miss my train there, but the two trains the next day were full- so the 16 hour journey wouldn't be able to be made for me to arrive in time for the course. I tossed around the idea of heading to Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Pushkar, and even Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Ultimately I decided that the closest I'd get to a Tushita experience would be in Rishikesh, the holy yoga town on the Ganges. And giving myself a full month there would allow me to find a rhythm and flow that I've found has really helped me to find an *inner* rhythm and peace. 

Ate some cookies and drank some chai outta styrofoam cups on the sleeper train, seated in my top bunk as two heavyset Indian men snore so loud that the walls are shaking even when the train is at a standstill. You can't push the river, you have to flow with the river...looks like I'm flowing up to Rishikesh...

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