India! Rishikesh: This Is Where I Would Have Chosen My Trip to End

So, I’ve found a place that I didn’t want to leave. I was planning to stay here for less than two days and ended up spending whole four in this mesmerising place. I came back to Delhi very early one morning, and that was only because I had booked my train tickets to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Imagine this: this place was so lovely I was considering skipping one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I had the Ganga, as blue as a river can be, right by my side, cups of masala tea piling up on the table, and some interesting conversations all day long. This was Rishikesh, a small town in Northern India that a lady I met on a bus in Kolkata recommended me to visit. I wish we had exchanged contacts; I would send her some nice postcards from home, saying that I can’t thank her enough for those words.

From the very beginning, everything was just…good. I met an older Spanish couple while waiting for our train, we happened to be in thesame compartment where we met an incredibly awesome Ozzie guy, with whom I ended up staying and chatting all the time. If, by chance, you still remember my blog entry about languages, I would like to add more to it: study languages not only so that you could have some beers with sweet Brazilian guys on your ferry ride to a paradise island in Thailand; study languages so that you could have a nice chat with fellow backpackers on a train to Northern India. At that time, I was thinking: “I didn’t just study Spanish so that I could do my study abroad in Spain, I studied it for this, haha!” I guess I should thank the Universe for this. It’s a pretty cool Universe, it seems.

Apart from thanking myself for not having abandoned Spanish some years ago, I engaged in other stuff. Inevitably, I had to do some hiking, since our hostel was on a big hill that not even a motorbike could reach.

Also, I took a dip in the Ganga (improving karma: check), met a local guy and a couple of his friends – a very sweet bunch, saw some proper chanting, read a book in the terrace facing the Himalaya (the mountains weren’t that huge there, yet I still claim this is what I saw), and had an array of engaging – and ridiculous – discussions with my travel companion.

When I think about it now, I wasn’t doing much at all. In comparison to biking, tubing, and visiting a lagoon during my trip to Laos, I did nothing on my trip to India, and absolutely nothing in Rishikesh. What I got from it, nonetheless, wasn’t nothing.

I can’t write about all of the already mentioned discussions. To be honest, I can’t even remember all of them. Yet one of the brilliant topics my fellow backpacker roommate and I talked about was the fabric in life. When you mention ‘fabric’ in India, a scarf or a sari comes to mind. The one he had in mind, fortunately, wasn’t it.

I was telling him that I needed to put some effort to reprogram myself not to judge people by their political views, for their ignorance or lack of common knowledge. This was something I really need to work on, I admitted.

I forgot what my response to his words was at the time, but after our chat I did keep that phrase in mind. When I was alone, I immediately started (over)analysing myself.What he commented on what I said got pleasantly stuck in my head. “If you look only at these aspects in life, you may miss a lot of fabric, you know”, he said. Without a single drop of arrogance or judgement. He wasn’t even patronising me (or maybe I was simply too young to realise it, hmmm).

“Fabric in life, fabric in life… How much of it do I notice???”

After some time, I – as some friend recently put it – calmed the fuck down. I might be missing a lot of it, I thought, but I still manage to spot some trivial yet sometimes somewhat symbolic details. Like an older Thai couple looking at an actual (!) photo album on a bus (seriously, who does this there days? And what is my excuse not to do it?) or my colleague’s eyes tearing up while her students perform.

Why does everything seem to slow down during moments like that? Maybe we get closer to that Buddhist-like way of seeing things, when for that second we simply stop analysing and judging what is happening around us. Perhaps the richness of that fabric becomes so intense it overwhelms us. Although I do skip tons of things I could be possibly fascinated with, I’m glad I can at least think of some seemingly minor yet sweet moments in life. I think I will expand on that in my next entry. And I think it’s high time I finished this one or else I will inevitably weave some boredom into the fabric of this post.

So. In the end, I took an overnight bus back to Delhi. This very last part of my stay in Rishikesh taught me another important lesson:  never take a bus in India! I like to describe the one I took as “a bus with experience.” It resembled a boiled egg when you drop it: the eggshell stays in place but remains heavily cracked and dented. A nonsense comparison, yet a strangely accurate one.

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