It was time to go back to Delhi, but I decided to make a stop in Haridwar, another holy city at the river Ganges. Not far from Rishikesh and convenient for a stop-over for what would be otherwise an uncomfortably long travel day.
Photo left: god
Photo right: more gods.
In the evening I walked along the fast flowing Ganges. There were beggars, sadhus and pilgrims. It looked much like I thought a leper colony would look like. Rags hung over bushes that could be makeshift tents or perhaps laundry or just rubbish. It was hard to tell. Families were eating in the midst of all the filth. While the sun was doing its evening wizardry, crows were circling in the air and a man was stirring something in a big cauldron that hung over a smoky wood fire.
Back at my hotel I found a small restaurant and had a vegetable curry for dinner. Holy cities in India only serve vegetarian food and even eggs are hard to find.
No, I don’t eat rice.
This time I was lucky. I had finally found somebody in India who could make a palatable curry. It had a rich flavour and I scooped it up with the chapatis I had ordered.
The bus from Haridwar to Delhi stopped somewhere half way because of protesters had gathered on the road. A man dressed in immaculate white dhoti and kurta with an oily hairdo, was addressing a circle of followers with a loudspeaker. They were sitting in the middle of the road. It took more than three hours before a representative of the local administration reached an agreement with the protesters and we could continue our journey. Back in the half empty bus a man asked me about the bottle of mineral water that was laying on the seat next to me. I said it belonged to the conductor of the bus. Oh, that’s all right then, the man said and took the water and used it to clean his shoe of some vomit. Some people had left the bus when we were waiting and as we suddenly hurled forward they came running for it. Nobody knew if we were complete.
In Delhi I took an auto-rickshaw to Paharganj where I found a room for 500 rupees. I must have got dehydrated because I had a headache and so I drank a bottle of mineral water and went to bed early. The next morning I woke refreshed and everything was wonderfully quiet. Except for the blaring television in the next room, someone shouting in his mobile phone outside my window and a man retching in the corridor.
Leaving my hotel on my way to the airport I found this dog [photo above] sleeping in a pile of rubbish.
At the corner sat a man who sold books and for a few hundred rupees I bought Stephen Hawkings The Grand Design – New answers to the ultimate questions of life.
It was just what I needed.
At the airport I waited in line for security. Two Indians stood before me. One asked: Which country you from?
Yugoslavia, I said.
We are going to Russia, he said. We fly to Astana in Kazakhstan.
Where in Russia, I asked.
To Astana and then to Russia, he said.
Yes, I said, but where in Russia.
We don’t know.
You don’t know?
It’s our first time to Russia, he said.