Thursday morning we set off for the 10hr drive from Varanasi. We went from green fields to playing “who can spot the most camels” game as we neared Delhi. We stayed with our friend Sonny and took a day to recover. Didn’t really do much in Delhi for various reasons. Nigel drove to Rishikesh while I was chanting wooosaaaaa in the passenger seat. The chariot isn’t easy to handle and when you have half of the jungle book characters running across the street its overwhelming at times.
When we pulled into Rishikesh you can tell this is an eat, pray, love, town. There are loads of little yogis and spiritual/stoned peeps wandering the streets. We decided to go fishing instead of trying to find meaning of life while holding the downward dog position. We hit the Ganges confident with fly rods in hand. After the first hour of nothing but one bite I assumed it was because I was fishing from the shoreline. Nigel had waders but I didn’t. So I decided to strip and wade around in my boxers. I must have had the funk because there wasn’t a bite the rest of the day. Nigel was working the shadow casting technique, but we both failed. We later found out its illegal to fish in the Ganges…ooops.
After fishing we met some kids next to the hotel who said they were part of a school next door. We were then invited to have dinner and meet the owner of the school and café named Prabha. She has been managing humanitarian projects and living in India for over 37yrs. Her latest project is taking untouchables (people who live in the trash dumps in various towns) and giving the children a proper education, shelter, food, and breaking what would inevitably be a tough life ahead. Prabha has some of the craziest stories you will ever hear from these 37yrs. Shes dealt with various indian mafia groups, parents taking their children back from her school just to sell them into prostitution as well as Nepalese militia groups, and having land taken from her school so a wealthy local could build a hotel. We joined her for dinner around 8pm and didn’t leave until 2am. If you want to read about her work feel free to visit her website http://sayyesnow.org
We are now in Chandigarh getting the car fixed. When you pull into this town its amazing. They have actually done planning here, and it’s really good planning. Roads are huge and zero goats are trying Barry Sanders their way through traffic. Apparently there are traffic rules in India but they aren’t enforced…here they are. Fantastic. We went to the LandRover dealership and everyone was extremely friendly and when it came to work on the car we had the whole shop helping. They get tired of working on Jaguars, old defenders though, lovin it like McDonalds. Nigel tried to pass out some toothbrushes to a small slum looking situation going on out in the industrial district. Again people ran away from him and when we met the slum chief he told us to beat it. “But we have toothbrushes” as Nigel insisted but we were just annoying him I guess so we left. Nigel wept.
We had our first night out in Chadigarh as well. We got more bad news with Nigel’s Pakistan Security Clearance being delayed another 2 weeks. We also spent all day trying to sort out dates for entering china, which wasn’t going well either. So we found a 1 for 1 bar and blew off some steam, then woke up in a house on the nice side of town with our new buddy we nicknamed Soap. No idea why but I’m sure there is a good reason for it. Fantastic individual this Soap. We pretty much hung out and tried to figure out how pop rocks worked while enjoying an absinth until 4am. It was Monday so I’m sure Soap had a rough day at the office today.
New plan is to make a big loop around Kashmir and hopefully get Nigel’s visa within that time. Kashmir is still disputed and most people told us to be carful, but the people here that are close to it seem to think it’`s alright. They do like to mention Pakistan is a bad idea but I’m sure that’s just because they aren’t very fond of them. Anyway off to Mandi or Manali next.