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Courses in Rishikesh

Mar 03, 2008 in

I went to Rishikesh because I have been curious about this spirituality thing and as some friends acknowledged, this is the right place. Partly because of the atmosphere there and because there is looks like a normal thing to do to occupy yourself with this kind of stuff; partly because in India or on any other vacation in general you are just out of your normal “busy” life.
Since I had nearly two weeks time, I didn’t want to rush to find something so I took my time to explore Rishikesh and around – (drove and) hiked into the mountains to paradisaic waterfalls and other places. For example the Beatles Ashram which is closed nowadays because of disputes with the government. It is located a bit outside Rishikesh, directly at the Ganges in midst some caves of some Sadhus.

Anyway, by chance, I met Thiago, a Brazilian guy who did yoga for 2 years but at the same time retained his scientific view of the world of a natural scientist. When we met, he just finished reading works of Schopenhauer. And really, even if you unleash European calculated logic on this spirituality-blah, you can’t prove that it doesn’t exist (or that is does exist) because there is very much left for your belief and particularly your perception. We talked a lot. Everyday we used to go the beach or go hiking and discuss these things. It is difficult to sum up our solutions… Basically, everyone creates his own reality since our perception is the only thing we got in order to experience it. There is no absolute reality because there is no one that can perceive it and define it. Only a shared reality amongst people (which is an overlapping reality).
It’s great to speak with someone about this who is very well able to think and argue logically, who has similar doubts and at the same time is open to new ideas or views how to see reality.

However, a few days after I arrived I managed to stuff my day full of activity:
By chance, I found an opportunity to attend a basic Ayurvedic massage course. By chance because the teacher and I talked for a while and as it turned out, he needed a website. Since I just finished a webdesign internship, we made a deal. I think things like that – where no money is involved – can only be a win-win situation. I visited his house everyday to work on the website while sitting on his terrace. This was not only a really nice working and learning atmosphere but gave me a nice insight into an Indian household. They even had a spastic German shepherd dog – he reminded me of the ministry of funny walks very much :D
Later, Thiago and I found a Yoga course which I can only recommend. We did not only do Asanas but we had a lot of lectures too which gave me more than enough background-information to satisfy my curiosity.
Regrettably, I could only stay for the first three days. Then I had to leave to Delhi to fetch Jens and Joern from the airport.

Past - Present - Future

Feb 21, 2008 in

I decided not to go to China for now but come back home – with British Airways (BA0972) at 20:05 on the 28th of March. This gives me still about one and a half months to say “goodbye” or rather “see you later” to India. Before Jens and Joern arrive from Germany, I still got two weeks to travel alone.
It is a bit hard to travel alone again but after a few days, you realize that you are never really aloe. You meet people all the time.
I spent the two free weeks in Rishikesh, curious about spirituality and what else attracts Western tourists to this place. Yes, it is a very touristic place and it must have lost much of it’s original athmosphere ever since it has become famous. But there is still some kind of magic in this little town and nearly every street has it’s own character. The town is very much influenced by New Age culture: It’s fluffy, it’s interesting, it’s funny!

For example there is that guy on the northern end of Laxman Jhula who tried to sell magic healing magnets all the time which he advertised for on a big sign in front of his house.
In Ram Jhula right next to stalls where one can buy delicious cookies and Golgappa, there are even three Indians praising their self-made “past – present – future” machines. These look like plastic Indian-style cuckoo clocks with built-in headphones. (Except one which is a pink toy robot :)) Furthermore, they glued some mysterious analogue displays to the front. (Aren’t computers all about blinken lights and mad indicators after all?)
Well, at least they go with the time. In the age of computerized barber shops, it seems logic that a computer tells you the future.
The fact that these people don’t starve to death must mean that there are really people who either believe this shit or give them money out of a mix of curiousity and pity. In fact, I consulted the future computer too – out of that exact reason. ;)

I’ll really miss this Indian childlike attitude of seeing and doing things. Even though I make fun of it all the time and am sarcastic about that stuff, it’s just so cute that one has to love it. Just the thought of it will always create a smile on my face. India is so improvised, so colorful and mixed-up, you can see contradictions all the time: One time I joined a religious ceremony in Haridwar (a holy city). The sun was going down. Torches and candles were lighted in the ancient and colorful temples at the bank of the holy river Ganges. Some began to chant some Mantras (holy chants) while Hindus cleaned themselves in the Ganges and candles in little boats were set into the water. The buildings reflected in yellow light on the surface of the Ganges. The athmosphere was not solemn or quiet but in a way you could feel the holyness and serenity of the place. Before the ceremony began however, some people sold plastic blankets to sit on which were actually the overage of packaging material. So I ended up to sit on Maggi instant noodles and the Sikh person in front of me on some German chocolate crossaints for kids while a “professional volunteer” preached like an infuriated missionary or a mob-leader to get some donations for the local temples.
On another occasion I watched a sadhu (holy person) who lived in a cave near the Beatles-Ashram in Rishikesh. He was just cleaning his orange robe when… his mobile started to ring.

Packing up home - the second!

Feb 12, 2008 in

It’s time to pack up my stuff again. My internship ended last Friday. Of course, it’s not over yet. Now is the time to truly travel India for one and a half months. Then, I must decide within the next days, if I want to do a second internship in China or come back home after this.

I spent the last weeks in the trainee house remembering all the moments we had in the trainee house and on the (mostly travel-)weekends. Even though the house was some kind of shithole, I am surprised that I got so attached to that house to honestly call it a home. What I will remember is not so much the rooms, the furniture, I will remember the people and the events, even the different eras in our house. The spirit in our house changed so often during my stay, just depending on which kind of people were there, that you can almost say, time goes faster here. But this is not true, it’s even the other way round: Life goes faster here.
Just as fast as the ice in the new deep freezer grew so big that it would block it’s cover and eventually became a giant block of ice, we welcomed and said (or partied) goodbye for so many people that after 4 months here I feel like an old senior, thinking about “the old times”… when we used to party more often, when India still felt so alien and unexplored and when I was (stomach-)ill all the time. ;)
As all Indian things seem to be, the house feels much older than it actually is. One time, I discovered a artifact from past times in the house which was a trainee-goodbye-book in which all trainees wrote something about their stay. It was from ’06/‘07… not even half a year old. Things will be forgotten much faster in this house since the generations here are so short.
It’s as if the house is full of ghosts. There are probably more than hundred people who left their impression and remember the house, but never saw each other. It’s true, the house is imprinted with so many impressions that it really is much older than it is. The memory and life of a house is counted by memories of people who were there and the impressions they left. Not the years since construction. An empty house is dead.1

Anyway. We had a big goodbye party in our house for even four people leaving in the same week: Saltuk, Jakub, David and me. Even some AIESECers, my boss and some other guys I didn’t know came! I don’t remember so much of the party but I remember that I had a discussion with a huge Australian guy from Opera India about the pain to maintain code of other people and three dimensional user interfaces when Sarthak (my boss) moaned about that we shouldn’t talk about geeky stuff at a party but party!!! ;)

My boss(es) gave me a classical Indian suit as a goodbye present. Wow, it’s so perfect – I think it’s the best present I could have imagined! :D
But – of course – punctually when I wanted to start my 1 1/2 months travel, my camera died. Fuck. This is the worst moment to happen for this. So, no photos. :(

P.S: On my last game of GO in the trainee house, I finally got beaten at Team GO for the first time since I introduced it to the trainee house. It was a close run, though. :D (Germany & Canada vs. US & China)



1 That’s why friends and family that died will never be dead. They will live in our memories and the impressions they made on us, influences future generations.

About rollercoasters

Jan 30, 2008 in

When you hear about Hindu temples I guess you have certain images in mind. Fine and exotic artworks, unique architecture and the mystic, solemn atmosphere of thousand years. Perhaps you even think Indiana Jones and forgotten temples in the jungle. I don’t want to destroy all your illusions about exotic India. Those places definitely exist, including forgotten temples.1
However, my experiences are, that Hindu temples that are still used as places of pilgrimage don’t have this air at all. They feel more like an attraction on a fair and the pilgrims look like families on a weekend trip (and they not only look like that, they are).

I went to the Kalika Mata temple in Chittorgarh (near Udaipur) with Esther. Before reaching the temple, you go past hundreds of stalls where one can buy popcorn, coconuts and other sweets to offer to the gods. Occasionally you go past stalls that sell souvenirs like those Hindu posters. You hear children scream and shout, TVs showing religious movies which you can buy there, radios bawling with Hindi devotional music. Near the temple, the path to it looks exactly like a queue for a rollercoaster. Several policemen armed with AK74s order the masses, preventing violence and bloodshed. ;)2 The orange metal railings continue even inside the temple. The inside of the temple is painted in the happy colorful tones red, turquoise, blue and orange. The floor is covered with leftovers from the offerings which adds to the dirty fair atmosphere. Following the queue enforced by the railings, you are guided through different rituals in the temple. One involves knotting a red handkerchief onto a metal grid, another one to throw sweets or money at the idols of the god. After putting a red dot on the wall, a brutal man grabs your coconut, smashes it open and gives you the pieces while the other pilgrims impatiently push you forward as if they’d fear to not be able to board the rolleroaster anymore… Or perhaps to get over with these rituals as soon as possible. At the end, you get a red spot on your third eye and that’s it. You are out. No rollercoaster. :(
As a pilgrim, you may hope that you completed all the rituals on the way through for the maximum amount of being blessed. Most pilgrims don’t even know what these rituals are good for, they just do it because it has done before so it can’t be bad. :D



1 Indians don’t seem to care to keep something in a good condition. Many ruins or old buildings you find look much older than they really are. They are literally forgotten because nobody cares. I figure there are many many of those forgotten temples.

2 But this is standard in India. Either the policemen just have bamboo sticks or an AK74. There is nothing in between. In front of nearly every bank or jewelry here, there is a man with a rifle. In front of upper-class shops and restaurants like McDonalds, Reebok or any supermarkets, there is a security man (without a gun) whose only task seems to be to open you the doors.

Entrance to the Maha Kali temple
On the way to the temple
Stall that sells goods for offering
Necklaces, bangles,…
A shrine
Another shrine

Is doch normaaaal!

Jan 24, 2008 in

I think the reason why I seldom write something about Chandigarh and the life here, is that there is really not so much going on here. Chandigarh is famous for it’s boring nightlife. Regrettably, the AIESECers here are not putting to much effort in communication with the trainees. Only a few are coming to our parties and women are not allowed out anyway (“Because they have to prepare for marriage”).
I’m one of the first people to leave the house in the morning and definitely the last one who returns from work at around 7-8 PM (my work is far away from the house). So on weekdays, we have only few hours in the evening together. I introduced a variant of the old chinese boardgame Noodle-Go which we play rather often.1 But sometimes when I am really late, most have gone out somewhere when I return. The real life is going on on the weekend, while we traveling India!

The daily life and the way to the office is such a routine already, that I don’t notice all those things anymore which were totally shocking and exotic to me when I arrived here. Perhaps that’s why I don’t write about it (anymore). It is normal to squeeze in a bus where the people are hanging out of the doors or travel on the roof, it is normal to see car accidents almost every day, it is normal that people glare at you and treat you like some kind of superstar and even the rickshaw-drivers who want to bring you to a “cheap hotel” every day when you return to the bus stand from work are normal. I’m used to get attention from people just by looking at them (“Hanji? Yes, Sir?”), I already gave up to argue with people that “Sir” is not the right word long ago.
I guess when I am back home I’ll walk through the streets, baffled and irritated, and at one point shout “Hellooo??! I am HERE! LOOK at me!!!”. ;)

Only the day before yesterday, when I walked through a herd of cows just in front of our office, I stopped, thinking “Hey, wait a moment…o_O”. I stood there for more than ten minutes, watched the cows lazily lie on the grass verge, munching. Then I looked around. As if I have awakened from a dream, I suddenly saw all those things again that I learned to ignore (like in a SEP-field): Also on this small verge between the two streets I saw a barber shop whose shop mostly consisted out of a mirror that was pinned on a tree and a chair in front of it. A rickshaw repair-workshop of the same type and close to it, a group of rickshaw-drivers cooking their dinner on a small campfire. Auto-rickshaws were parked everywhere, waiting for their turn to substitute buses going to the main bus stand (if the people grew tired of waiting for the bus that wouldn’t come or is too overcrowded2). The story that Lena told me about India – that people live and sleep on the pavement and get their water from (a tub) in the gully to make tea – are true. It seems to be so normal that I almost forgot about that she told me that, still having some other pictures of this in my mind which appear less normal and more shocking.

This night I stayed at the other trainee house in Panchkula. Panchkula is another city that is closer to my work than Chandigarh. In the evening we played Moneyply (a bad Indian copy of Monopoly) and I remembered how boring Monopoly really is.
Anyway, I walked past some slums today morning and nearly failed to notice it: There were some new showrooms (shops) near our house and between the showrooms were spaces of about 6-8 metres where no showroom has been built yet. In those spaces, there were some huts and tents built out of rubbish, using the walls of the showrooms as supporting walls. These are the places where all those cycle-rickshaw-drivers, cleaning ladies and barber-shop-owners live. I peeked into some huts and was surprised: They had a TV and electrical light, but lived in a very small space and used a campfire as their heating. Inmidst all these rubbish-huts, there was a very small temple (or a big shrine) of Durga. Actually, it all looked pretty cosy, really like a small village community.

The longer I live in India, the less I am shocked about the possibility of just sleeping on the pavement or anywhere else – as long as it’s warm enough and not raining? So, “cosy” and “homely” were really the first words that came to my mind when I walked through the slum.



1 I built the first version of the game out of the backside of a cheesy Hindu poster and a Kellog’s Cornflakes pack. It would not be black vs. white but cardboard vs. kellog’s ;). Now, I made a board out of proper cardboard and bought different colored noodles. The rules of Noodle-Go are basically the rules of Multiplayer-Go.

2 Actually, this word doesn’t seem to exist in India ;)

The Noodle-Go board. I played more than a dozen games now since I am here. :)
Backside of our first improvised Go-Board. It shows Shiva with his wife Parvati and her son Ganesha.
This is the bazaar which can also be seen in this post. After rainfall, it needed some reinforcements ;)
Computerized hair style!! Possibly means that they have an electrical shaver there ;)
A tea shop which is NOT computerized (see the difference) :D… in front of a shop that is possibly computerized by the looks of it.
Bus stop near my office
Showrooms near my office

First weekend in Chandigarh

Jan 24, 2008 in

I realized that last weekend was the first weekend since I arrived in India where I stayed in Chandigarh on the weekend and was NOT dead ill, lying in bed. I was a bit ill, though – I caught light food poisoning on Thursday. Again – after eating at Singh’s Chicken1. It was already gone on the weekend but I spent the whole weekend figuring out, what put me into a depressed mood in the first place. I was feeling blue since Thursday and because I did not regain my appetite till yesterday, I felt too week and too cold to travel.

On Sunday I went to an Cyber Cafe2. Naturally, the guys from AIESEC still didn’t remove the virus (link: see bottom) from their office PCs but instead removed the only PC with which the Ubuntu Live CD worked I usually work with on these PCs. After checking email and logging in on different sites, I discovered that there is a virus on the computer in that Cyber Cafe, too. It corrupted my USB stick! So I could have gone to the office in the first place?! This really made me angry. Either that virus used the PC to host a big porn archive there or I discovered the private porn collection of the owner in a “hidden” drive by chance: “[…] second, there is a lot of porn hidden on drive D! Is this yours?” – “Noo!” – “OK than I delete it…”. Actually, I hope it was the latter :>. To look after the security of your computers in your Internet cafe should have top priority for every owner!

So, the weekend was boring and partly unnerving but finally I had some time to read “one hundred years of solitude”.



1Singh’s Chicken is a dirty place, you can see occasionally rats running around and watch how they prepare the food in the open-to-the-street-kitchen. Somehow I keep returning there, perhaps because it tastes good and I say to myself that if there are any bugs or vermin in my fried rice, they will be well-done, fried and dead.
One time I saw something odd on the menu and I asked about it. The man replied “No no, chicken brain is out.”. Mjamee. :D

2Indians call Internet cafes “Cyber Cafes”… even though you can neither have a coffee there nor is it “cyber”. Die spinnen, die Inder ;)

Hotel California

Jan 17, 2008 in

The Gujarati tourists came in a rush and left in a rush. After the 31st, all hotels were cheap again, you could rent all types of bikes and no people wanting photos of, with or from you. Paradise! ;) Only I couldn’t relax then too much because I had to work on the 3rd. So somehow, I had to join the rush out of Diu which was of course a futile undertaking. It was impossible to set a foot out of Diu for all trains were fully booked. (And we didn’t want to cover a distance of about 1000 miles with Indian busses). In fact, we already checked out the trains on the day we arrived in Diu, foreseeing this. But no way out. Do you know the song Hotel California?

“Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
You can find it here
[…]
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
‘Relax,’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’”

Even though my longer stay in Diu was not about drugs, I felt a bit like in the song ;). We decided to make the best out of the situation and enjoyed the extra days we had. I rented a moped and explored the island.1 The island is not big, it took only 45 minutes to reach the other side. To drive on these empty roads that lead through villages, pine forests and tropical swamps tastes like a nice cup of freedom. :)
For some time, I headed directly towards the sunset. The sun dyed my surroundings in reddish colors, the coast with it’s beaches and cliffs looked stunning in this light. by that time, I found out how to use the horn and that the left indicator doesn’t work. Well, nobody uses them anyway. So I just honked all the time like Indians do :P

I passed some villages where one can still see the remains of the Portuguese culture and visited some old churches there. Later I sat down on another seemingly abandoned beach to to watch the wooden fisher boats return home.

When I arrived in a fisher village on the other side of the island, some kids were approaching me and demanded ballpens from me at once. Pretty straightforward. However, that reminded me of a tiip a friend of mine, Jens2, gave me: I should give beggars ballpens instead of money for they can be pretty persistent if I don’t give them anything. Well, it seems like this tip is more widely known that even these children think they can get free ballpens from Westerners. I guess they must believe now that Europe is the country where the (free) ballpens come from.
Well, I gave them my second pencil and hastily said goodbye because they were already beginning to feel my pockets if there is more to get from the Western money pig. ;) I guess that is what happens when they get too used to receiving gifts from foreigners.

But I enjoyed that tour very much, so much that I think I’ll save money to buy a moped when I am back in Germany. You are just not so dependent on public transportation or other people anymore. This is freedom :)

If I remember correctly, we managed to get a train on the 5th from Baroda which is only 250 km away from Diu and arrived on the 6th back in Chandigarh – “City beautiful”…haha :D.




1 I have no drivers license, left my German license in Germany. But actually, I dont’ think that anyone cares here.

2 He already travelled Thailand for a month and wants to visit me here in March. :D

A christian Church
Dry waterfall
Stopover at a restaurant at a beach
Sunset
My vehicle

Drunken Invasion

Jan 04, 2008 in

In whole Gujarat, locals are not allowed to drink any alcohol unless a doctor approved that they suffer from some kind of illness and will die if they are not allowed to.1
But this is not too bad, I mean, like in Rajasthan, they have smoke. The only bad thing is, that there is an exception rule for Diu. In Diu, it is allowed to drink alcohol. So – where to go for a cool New Years party? Right. Half Gujarat comes to Diu.2
In other states of India, it is not forbidden but usually too expensive for most of the people.

So, on the 31st, loads and loads of drunken Indian tourists were in the town, young people like us but they never saw white people before and never drank alcohol before (it seems). And of course, they could speak as much English as most Indians do (“What is your country name”,…). They wanted to shake hands, know your name and country but basically just have an excuse to glare at you. We were the main attraction – it was a bit like at the wedding. And hour after hour, there came more into the town. The police set up barriers to control the traffic, blocked the town center. And of course, the Indian tourists couldn’t handle the alcohol – oddly enough, Indians already get drunk after half a bottle or so. It was not horrifying, it was just ridiculous.
Later I talked with the Diu policeman Sonu about this. I met Sonu at a beach where I stayed overnight, he joined us at our campfire for some time. He told me, that the police was very busy that evening.
Most western backpackers were now on the church for this was the only place that was more or less fair-priced. A part of the former priests quarters plus the roof belonged to a small hotel. They organized a small party next to the church. So in the evening, there were a dozen backpackers or so.
While we were talking, chatting and drinking, we were surrounded by more and more Indian tourists who would stand in some distance, forming a circle. They wouldn’t even try to mix with us, didn’t talk much either but just quietly stand there and glare at us. Some made photos. Like an audience. When I asked Babu (the Indian backpacker) how he feels, he said “I feel like in a zoo.”. It didn’t bother me so much for I was playing Go (a Chinese boardgame) I made out of cardboard and shells of different colors. However, when it was getting more extreme and they piled up in already three lines, we decided to join the catholic mess in the other church at midnight.

Phew, the first and possibly the last time I celebrated the holy mess. It was utterly boring, though, because it was Indian, funny. The hymns which were apparently recorded earlier, sounded like “Happy dance music” – a nine-year-old playing and singing with some kind of synth-keyboard. It was hard to contain myself to not burst into laughter. Between the hymns, the priest would speak. But it made no sense, not even in a didactic manner. It was like
“…and if all the families here are as peaceful as us, this town is peaceful and if all families are peaceful, the world is peaceful – look at Bhutto, she is like Maria but look now at Pakistan, all this bloodshed that is going on there – and abortion too. Ambitios people…”
and so boring that I constantly blended in and out of what he was saying. Well, we left earlier and were followed by some old man who seemed to be rather busy during the mess. He was running around here and there, going out, coming in etc. I assumed that he is somehow organizing it and was therefor a bit in an unrest. So when we came out, he asked us “You have smoke? I search for smoke the whole day but can’t find!”. I wonder why he searched in the church. So I replied “No, we don’t have, but certainly you’ll find something in the church. Keep looking!”.

On the way back, we saw sleeping wasted Indians lying around everywhere. We joined in a bit on the party of the backpackers which was now on the roof of the church and went to our beach afterwards to sleep at 4 AM.


1 So Gujarat is possibly the country with the highest percentage of population that suffers from a kind of strange alcohol illness.

2 Probably the other half to Daman, the other former Portuguese enclave ;)

View from the roof of the church
Dutch girls at sundown
The small location before the invasion
Intelligent people play go with shells as gamestones :)
The small location during the invasion. We sat in that one corner. Later on, some Westerners used the free space between the shy Gujarati Tourists as a stage :)

Christmas in Pushkar

Jan 01, 2008 in

Our travel has begun. Our destination was Diu but we didn’t reach it till Christmas. Instead, we were in Pushkar during Christmas eve.
The atmosphere is unique… because it is so small, you don’t have to walk far to see a bit of rural India. It’s stunning that so close to a tourist centre, there are still these kind of villages. The town itself is built around a small lake like you would expect of an Oasis-town.
We spent Christmas eve at a restaurant which organized a Hindi devotional music group which I believe were some kind of gypsies. Otherwise, it was really funny and interestingly decorated: Balloons and other colorful stuff hang from some trees, some firework volcanoes were started and a big “Happy Christmas” was laid on the ground with orange flowers. It all felt a bit like “Happy birthday, Jesus!”. ;)
I don’t like Hindi devotional too much (a Christian chorus is singing of angels as compared to that) so I wanted to leave fast after we finished our dinner and drank our lassies.

We walked around the empty streets of Pushkar at night. The feel is completely different – it looks like another town, no, even another world or time. This applies to other Indian cities at night as well. Only without the noise, the sellers, tourists, beggars, the traffic and the light, one can experience this monumental and solemn athmosphere. Which looked so ordinary and normal at daytime, appears then so alien and exotic again. Esther wrote a very nice poem about that:

“She is another country by night.
She resists us,
Wrapping herself in her cloak of history.
She sings the silent songs
Of past lovers and lives,
Wars and wides of worships.
That have swung between the silence
Of her nights.
Her face regains it’s mystery
in with the inscrutable shadows;
moonlight on water;
a distant day; The echo of footsteps
The plash old sigh of the lake.
A private solemn dance with herself
And we are, again, foreigners.”

Later I talked with a Canadian and an Indian backpacker. The Westerner thought that bhang (blend of Marijuana) is actually not forbidden in Rajasthan. But the other one corrected him and said that it is illegal there, but no one cares. Actually, every family has a bit in their household. This is a very small difference, really.
This reflects in the way bhang is distributed in Pushkar: Many restaurant have “Special Lassi” or “Special cookie” even on their menu. When I asked what precisely is in there, the waiter replied “Well, do you know this plant,… Marijuana?” and added a little bit uncomfortably “… actually, it is illegal so we have to write ‘special’ instead of ‘bhang’.”. He seemed to be more concerned with not being allowed to write bhang in the menu than that bhang is illegal. ;)
The owner of the very small hotel we stayed in named his Lassi “Megic Lassi” (inclusive the spelling mistake). A very small and cosy hotel, the owner is very friendly.

What’s so interesting there?
Do you see a face over one of the buildings too?
It has been found, the cure for cancer!
Peace camels
Shanti cow at the lake

Vagabonds

Dec 31, 2007 in

“I love being a vagabond, having no place to stay!” (10 seconds later:) “Hm, I need a bathroom” – Esther

On from Pushkar, we spent about 18 hours traveling in buses till we reached Diu.1 The last bus drove on so bumpy and nearly non-existent roads through vast steppes and a jungle-like reservation that the bus nearly fell apart. No kidding. The bus was not one of the best or newest, you could see provisional fixes to it everywhere. The whole left side of the bus inclusive all windows were actually loose. The back windows were gone and replaced by cardboard. During the travel, we lost some parts of the left side and one pole which you could grab hold of fell down. I expected the windows to break every second because they were just hopping up and down in their frame. Otherwise, the bus was not too bad… ;) (Yes, I like to write about buses. I mean, we spend about half the time of traveling in a bus. India is just so huge.)

But all that traveling was worth it. Not only that I saw more of rural India on the way but Diu itself is just beautiful. The Portuguese conquered this in very early times and it was only conquered back by Indian military in 1961. So, you see the Portuguese influence everywhere and it feels a bit like (I imagine) the Caribbean. Except that the water is not turquoise but Northsea-like, there are no white beaches and not quite so much palms. And you are nearly never alone, I guess India ist just too crowdy to leave the beautiful places un-crowded (and therefor not full of garbage). Even though it is in the middle of winter, its still about 30 degrees during day.

When we arrived, we found out that actually all hotels were more or less full and these greedy hotel owners would charge about 3-5 times as much from this day on.
So, we decided to just sleep somewhere for zero Rupees. Perhaps on the beach? Esther and me rented two bikes and were free but “homeless” :)
In the town center of Diu, there was a big bazaar where we bought some blankets for the night and where I ate one of the weirdest Indian meals I have ever eaten in India. Esther described this meal accurately as “Soggy cornflakes [and popped rice] with some spicy sauce”.
In the evening, we ended up accompanying a Canadian guy, Mag, and his Indian friend Babu sleeping on the beach. He spent already three days there and built a Robinson-Crusoe-like “tent” (a roof out of a blanket) with a little stove out of a pillar of a bench. They cooked some seafood and Indian food. I think it is the first time in my life that I tasted Shrimps – man, if you overcome the disgust, they are really tasty!
Anyway, the night at the beach was really rather cold. On top of that, there were a couple of stray dogs roaming at the beach. While we were all awake and eating, they were pretty peaceful but later, they started growling at each other (or at us), and woke us up again and again by barking and howling loudly half a metre from our heads. The Canadian guy who stayed up longer had to shoo them away again and again – they really went mad. I guess they were fighting over a big kingfish that we didn’t eat up.
So, the next day we joined some other backpackers who slept on the roof of a Christian church. The view is awesome and the backpacker atmosphere is unique.



1 The distance from Chandigarh to Diu is about the distance from Spain to Poland.

Night at the beach
The juice-man making ice
Diu Town
From the fort on Diu
Indian women near the beach

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