‚R3‘ Rishikesh first 10 days

The bus ride towards Rishikesh was already a new experience. Because this was just a most simple government bus, as it is used everywhere in the daily traffic. To my surprise it had not only 4 seats in a row, but 5. First the bus was quite empty, then it was getting more and more full. So many Nepalese like to work in India…. here they wanted to travel to Haridwar, a little bit south of Rishikesh. Because I did not know, when the bus had to leave, I just waited. He left something like 2 h after I arrived there. 5 seats in a row, but then I saw, how the bus conductor squeezed more and more people in. The seats where anyway not so comfortable and wide, but he put 4 people on 3 small seats, 3 people on 2 seats, in the back row were sitting 7 or 8. After the bus started all Nepalese felt immediately in to a comatose sleep, as if there where totally knocked out. Arms and heads were hi up or lying on the other bodies. All the bodies merged into a whole muddle of human body parts. My seat neighbor collapsed also, towards me, because I was sitting at the window. His elbow was making his way between my legs, his head found another rest here and there. If there would not be the breathing and the body temperature left over, you could really thing – ‚all dead, or plug in out, or power off ‚. This happened all the way through the night, at the stop in the middle of the night two third went shortly out of the bus, then back to ‚power off‘. It was fascinating to watch, and a kind of ‚unbelievable art work‘. At Haridwar I viewed famous and holy river Ganga first, the typical stairs down to the river I know from so many pictures….nearly everyone left, but the bus filled up at 6:30 in the morning… and we totally arrived in Rishikesh in time!!!

My map helped me to find a short cut to the Ganga, I got some fruits and nuts on the way. And exactly at the time, the sun was rising over the mountains, I arrived at the river bank. Later I found out, that I exactly rested there, where the fire cremation takes place, but this early morning..no fire. Only wood ashes left over at the stone beach and in the shallow water…. Rishikesh city and Laxman Jhula, the part where most foreigners stay is about 3 km, walking way 4-6 km away from each other. In between there are so many ashrams along the river, on both sides. Just overwhemling. One area is free because of to steep mountains. On the opposite side there is a beautiful sand and stone beach. Rishikesh is about 400 m high, but big Himalaya surrounds the valley. Two suspension bridges connect the river sides, Ganga is up to 200 m wide. Its also the world Yoga teaching place. Crossing the river at Ram Jhula, the city part in between, I was so happy, to realize, that’s a footbridge…. but soon I got, motorcycles also cross, and they always honk…. going all the way to Bonfire hostel, I had to cross the second bridge. I passed a lot of shops, restaurants and so many beggars…. at least 30-40 times I was asked for donations, coming to a shop…. brrr. The hostel even provides a free yoga class every morning and afternoon, a roof top, and that all with a price of only 200 Rupees (3$), if you stay in a dormitory.
I left for eating at some simple, but colourful and cosy restaurant named Shambala directly obove the river side. Here I met a young lady, who told me, after finding out, that I just had arrived ‚Ah, you are just at the beginning of your Rishikesh journey‘   Hae….?

I thought only to stay for about 10 days, to meet Ayush, to orientate myself and to plan my Indian travel journey through my winter-walking break, but in the end I stayed almost all the time in Rishikesh.

First think I had to do, is seeing a dentist. Here, and in some other countries before, if you want to see a doctor, you have to go to the hospital. There are also some private clinics…. but I went to the hospital. Big crowds there everywhere. In the entrance area you have to register first, and I had to pay a fee for that, 70 Indian Rupee, 1 $. Then I got a file into my hand with my data on it. To the dentist area. At the waiting area I faced about 40 patients, but some of them where here for a sonogram, mothers with there small or already big bellies…. It took me 2 h to wait, not understanding the order of who comes next… After an x-ray at my problem crowned molar tooth the dentist found out, that one of my two tooth root was fractured. There was no way to safe the tooth. The next day operation, I had to pay 2.000 Rupees/30 $, turned into just removing the tooth. The doctor did not pull the tooth, but levered it wonderfully out. He wanted to give me antibiotic medication, but I refused. He consisted, that he has to write it down…. but I told him, that I will use the healing effect of honey in my wound, I will wash and rinse the area, will use lemon and ginger water for that….  And… it wonderfully healed, even to my surprise even quicker than I thought. The crater wound closed up so quick, just within a day, and at the second day I was able to clean even with my toothbrush the area softly…..
Most people believe in medication so much, that natural healing even got forgotten. And the doctors and pharmacy companies work together, to continue this tendency. Everywhere in the world. Some of the medication even poisons our body, and not only that, it poisons even our water, for no reason…. we could make it so much better. Nature provides so many herbs and substances….

Going back and forth to the hospital, I always passed the funeral place, the burning place at the Ganga. I already got interested by the ceremony that days, but I never saw a full ceremony. So one day, I walked, not to late at day, towards that place to hopefully see a full burning ceremony. Yes it happened. Minutes after I arrived, a group of people arrived.
Only men are present at a burning ceremony, no women, no kids. For me it is kind of touching, because its such an important, and the last step in someones live, and so concrete. After that, its clear, the person is gone, the body is gone, there is nothing left over, life in that body has ended. All the men, who are coming bring as much wood with them, as they can carry, they bring it from the parking area to the beach, sometimes they have to go twice. Four men are carrying the stretcher, some rope hold the bamboo sticks together. The dead female body is covered by a very colourful fabric. (The burning usually takes place at the same day of death, or the day after) In this case around 30 men are coming to the ceremony. They all drop the wood close to the future burning place. Here, today, there are two funeral helpers. The morticians make a foundation, half in the water, have on the beach stones are, then they staple the wood skilfully about 150 cm high. They put the dead body on top of the wood staple. The body gets undressed and the morticians and some relatives oil the body with ghee, as a last blessing, and it burns also good. The staple gets completed to put more wood on top and around the sides, so, after starting the fire, it can’t collapse to any side. In the meantime there is  another fire started beside the big wood staple. In the burning there is are only natural material used. No some relatives, the sons of the women who died, lead by the oldest, are taking burning sticks from the side fire, surround the wood staple clockwise, before the wood is set on fire. The oldest son is the only one, who is allowed, to initiate the fire. But then later, the other brothers are helping. Some herbs are thrown into the fire, but also help the fire to burn better. After about 90 min some men again turn around the fire and put some more ghee (fat from butter) in. The undertaker hits the skull, breaks it. This is a final sign, that the life has ended. But the fire continues burning for another at least 2 hours. The remains, I can see pelvis bones and a part of the chest, is taken into a fabric and thrown into the holy river Ganga.
All the sons, here 5, get there head completely shaved.
During the fire ceremony one of the morticians is cleaning up the burning places, used the day(s) before. His special interest is the ashes of the head area, where he maid find some metal, as gold, for example from teeth.
It was not a problem of anyone of the participants of the burning ceremony, that I was present there all the time. About 4 hours.

One, or maybe the most important thing I wanted to do in the walking break, beside relaxing, was to attend a Vipassana retreat. There was only one problem, everything was booked. My tries, to attend earlier in Israel and Turkey did also failed (In Israel, there was a new center in construction, the old center was supporting the construction, so there was no course at all for a while – in Turkey, the both retreats, which I saw on the schedule, were finally cancelled – in Iran, the retreat center was closed by the government. I met some guys there, who practice meditation and also Vipassana meditation in the underground. Buts its so difficult, to organize a retreat with ongoing restrictions.) The next course in the middle of November was in Dehradun, about 40 km away from Rishikesh. And I felt, this time I don’t want only a 10 day course, I am actually looking for a 21 day course. Because its booked, I looked for another place and went along the riverside, where I once saw a nice area, maybe I could book a room there somehow?…. It turned out, that this was to expensive, but they sent me to another place, maybe the tiniest ashram existing in Rishikesh.. with a little meditation pyramid at the 15 by 15 m property. Through the gate Rajat saw me and opened the door. Soon I was sitting with the owner, Guru Raj Dev and his assistance Subash, down. I did not know what to think of the Guru in his 60th, pensioner from police service and with a lot of eating rests in his mouth… He wanted to figure out, what I expect there, the price…. I wanted to be in silence for 21 days, is that possible, my question…. yes….the price is what I like to give… what to say with that, but a little bit to much not concrete for me, because I felt an expectation behind, which I couldn’t sort… So I needed to know, what Guru Raj Dev expected. Finally he announced 300 Rupees, what is about 4 Euros a day. I can use the whole property, can use the pyramid, have a room and a common bathroom in the first floor. The view was superbest, directly at the Ganga, no traffic, only walkers…. A had to think about it….
But I already went shopping, in Rishikesh market, to get colours and paper, for maybe paint something, and other little things.
Coming back to my hostel I decided, after a night sleep, to will get at the 14th to Dehradun, a day before the 10-days  Vipassana retreat starts, to find out, if I kind of can sneak in the retreat, or if there is a waiting list for the case, booked people don’t show up.


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