Friday, October 29, 2010

Shifting - a new stage Reunion to exotic

28 October 2010 Thursday

Transition day, moving from the Woodstock Reunion stage of my trip to my Exotic India stage of my trip. Traveling from Woodstock and Mussoorie by car to Dehradun, and on the Haridwar by Link Express train, and car to the Sri Rama Ashram in Rishikesh.  Robert’s group also traveled by bus from Delhi to Rishikesh during the day.

Alan and I went on our one-hour walk leaving around 6:10 am from the Hanifl Center.  As other days, there were the three early morning men on the first rise going east on Terhi road – one man lying flat, one sitting up, and one exercising.  Don’t know why, but we greeted them as usual.  They laughed as Alan commented ‘serious’ exercising.  We had thought we’d go around the base of Flag Hill, but then we headed opposite of Flag Hill to the Haunted House – ducking under the perfunctory first barrier, but coming up to the strong signs “No Trespassing” This time the sign had an email address on it!  But there was no dog or guard, though we still decided to go around it, and not into it, going around the right side, where Alan noticed a big cement mixer machine.  We gave up going around the side as the vegetation closed in.  We did see and hear some more birds – the red bird group, and the whistling bird. 

Got back around 7 and I showered as the others went off to breakfast around 7:15 am.  I soon joined them and in my rush, I got to the dining room only about 5 minutes after they had gotten there.  I dropped off a Fosters bottle next to some red trash on my way in.  Pancakes and special pakora bread for breakfast, but still no promised curd. More others joined us as we were finishing up.  I left to go back and pack, though Helen had already packed the night before.

Packing was pretty easy back at the Hanifl Center and I was done by about 8:45 am so went down the Center’s computer room and did some emails and connections. When 10:30 am came around, Alan with Helen’s suitcases and I with mine were down waiting for the car, which arrived pretty soon, with Sanjay as our driver – same driver as yesterday from the picnic to Woodstock.   

Helen and Yvonne were waiting at the Woodstock gate and there were hugs and goodbyes and we were on our way, though the traffic though the lower Landour road was really horrible.  About 15 minutes after King Craig, Helen let out this loud remark – oh, no, I left my Woodstock bag on the top of the scooter where we were waiting!  Right away Sanjay stopped and was prepared to go back, but Helen said no – it was unimportant stuff.  She had her money and passport with her.  Further discussion led to the probability that I would pick it up when I was back in Mussoorie in the next few days, take it and leave it at the Delhi Florance Inn, where Helen was returning in 6 weeks before she left for home from Delhi.  Sanjay used my ‘new’ cell phone to call his boss who would call Woodstock to find and hold it.  The boss soon returned the call that the bag was being held by Mr. Roberts.

The temperature, weather changed to much warmer as we reaching Dehradun. We searched for and found a restaurant recommended to Helen, the Yeti – Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian food.  The woman owner was great – she recommended the fast food would be Indian and we made them bring and seat Sanjay to eat with us.  The pallau, dal, chapatti, and vegetable curry came soon and Sanjay especially seemed to enjoy it.  Then to the station by 1 pm, with Sanjay helping me get a coolie for Rs 50 who would carry my bag and seat me in the right place on the train.  Hugs to Helen as she went off with Sanjay for the afternoon, maybe to the Forestry museum for the afternoon (Rs 800 extra) before her 5 pm Shatabdi.

I had my bunk, compartment all to myself, as we found my name listed on the sheet on the boggie.  The trip down to Haridwar seemed slow – it appeared to be about 27 miles and took about an hour.   

At the station as I got off and was pulling my luggage, my next contact appeared with a Philip McEldowney sign.  He picked my bag and I followed him up over the bridge, down, and to the parking lot and the car – he got in the front and a driver joined us. It was a strange one-hour drive them to Rishikesh through horrendous traffic coming both ways, follow the railroad tracks half of the way and the Ganga next to us some of the time.  They picked the correct one of the two Sri Rama ashrams, went to the registration office, filled out forms and gave passport for copying, and then drove near to my #14 room.  I filled out and signed and gave the coupon to the Uday agent who seemed overjoyed that the transaction and trip had taken place without a hitch.  I was in my room by 3:45.

Very simple rooms with a bed in two separate rooms, a bathroom with explained hot water for showers, and a living / kitchen first entrance room.  The air conditioner’s clicker didn’t have any effect of course.  I walked around the Ashram grounds.  Robert showed up around 5:30, and we eventually went to supper at 7, with chanting beforehand, and I met and sat with the others on the outside benches and tables.  Gail first, then Alice and Llyn – then the others, - Kathy who is Gail’s neighbor and friend and feline friendly.  The young Abe and Anne couple. And the two others – Claudia and Jeanie.  Each one very interesting in their own ways.

I was exhausted, went back and fell into bed around 8:30 or so, as Robert was still up. 

And I slept soundly – beyond my 4 am wake up and almost missing my Friday morning walk.

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