Tuesday, April 24, 2007

if monkeys could talk

After we moved into Mama G's, Rishikesh started to feel more like home. That night (Sunday) Dani and I went back to Om Shanti cafe to hang out with Prakas and Himanzu and friends, but ended up haing one of those revelatory conversations in Hebrew between the two us that can only be held over chai in a land far, far away. How lucky we were that the conditions were right. The conversation, which I don't really want to get in to, basically stemmed from Dani's question, "do you know what made you the kind of woman that you are," meaning I guess independent and firey, and whatever else characterizes women that are not so dainty and like to do things like travel to India by themselves. From that question, we both went spiralling into our past, on the roof of the Om Shanti cafe, me digging up truths I'd known about but forgotten, he digging up answers he had recently begun to tap into but hadn't yet fully developed.

Monday was kind of a slow day that started late and was spent mostly wandering around the city. I'd packed lightly, really lightly, and only had one pair of pants, which until yesterday had experienced India with me to the fullest. I decided it was time to buy a new pair, which should be easy considering how cheap everything is. But I'm small and those cute little yoga pants that every tourist here wears makes me look like I'm the star of a carnival, which would be fun if I were, but I'm not. I finally found a good pair of pants, and bought two, and then ran off to my tabla lesson.

My teacher's name is Bhuwan, and I need to take pictures of him so you can understand the extent of my tabla experience. He is about 35 and tall and lanky, and has one of those funky mustaches that only and Indian man in the prime of his life can still pull off. He wears his hair greasy and slicked back to a curl on the bottom, and likes to brush it back every once in a while in a nervous gesture.

But enough about that. On the tabla, he is not nervous, and depsite the language barrier (our lessons usually sounds something like this: "no, position, very bad. yes, good. not this. this. no this. yes this. finger, no pfufff, bling. yes this,") he is a very good teacher. In my two lessons so far, I've learned nine different sounds and about 5 different patterns, which, when I learn to play them fast and correctly, will sound like songs. It is so different from the congas and the jembe and all other instruments I pretend to play, and it's very tiring, but addictive to learn.

Wandering home for dinner, which mama cooks and feeds to all her sons and daughters on the patio, an Israeli stopped us and told us about a Yom Ha'atzmaut party that night on the other side of Lakshman Jula. It was one of those parties that reminded me not to spend to much time in Kasol, the Parvati village which has become overrun by Israelis. The party was nice but cost as much as a night in a guest house, with lots of food I was to full to eat and drinks which I was too tired to imbibe, and lots of Israeli energy, which I am never really able to handle. We met some nice people though, which is always a good thing, and left after a few hours.

We went to bed late, Dani on the roof and me inside our sweltering room. I tried to sleep on the roof also, but the mosquitos attacked me, and I still don't want malaria. Dominique, a French Canadian Montrealer staying at Mama's, woke me up at 6 A.M. and we did an hour and a half yoga session, which released some of the tension that sleeping under a fan all week had shoved into my neck.

After yoga, and the post-yoga chai (there was also a pre-yoga chai, of course), and the post-yoga-post-yoga-chai-breakfast, Dani and I did laundry and then went wandering through the forest, getting ourselves mentally prepared for the Gangotri glacier, where we're trekking later this week. Later on, a little boy name Seeba latched onto us at on the Jhula and then wandered around with us, silly tourists that we are, for a few hours. He didn't say much (well, aside from "what is your name" and "seeba" he only really said "yes," even when it wasn't the obvious answer), but I love Indian kids, and he loved laughing and eating the chips we shared with him.

It's been a really long day, and I'm exhausted, but every day am loving India more and loving Rishikesh more.

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