We have left Rishikesh. Said our goodbyes (for now) to Ganga Ma, MP and all the staff at Flavors, to the Ganga Prem Hospice Team, to Prem Baba, and the kids. Oh, I miss the kids! There were always trying to sell us flowers and asking for money. We got to know a small group of them all by name and I looked forward to seeing them on our walks along the Ganga. They ranged in age from 6 to 12 years old. Somehow they would spot us from afar. All the sudden we would hear our names being yelled out and then we would see one, two, or often a group of kids coming toward us. We would always have a playful exchange with them. Many of them know some English. They certaintly know more English then I know of Hindi. But I would practice my Hindi and we would learn a new word here and there. We would help them practice their English and David would give tips on their business of selling flowers and items for puja to the river, Ganga Ma. They were persistent and without fail they would ask us for money and to buy flowers every time we saw them. Often that was numerous times a day. We would always stop, sometimes sit with them to visit, and remind them again each time we were not going to buy flowers. Many smiles were shared and I came to appreciate their tenacity. I choose tenacious over annoying. ; ) We did buy Sunil a samosa one day and then the next day apparently all the others knew about this because they all starting asking for one. I had an idea to buy kites that we could fly with them. We noticed lots of people flying kites from rooftops so I thought that might be a fun adventure. Well finding the kites and string was an adventure but we did it. We bought 5 kites and had a great time trying to fly with them along the river side.
We had a couple day stay in Delhi again (see David’s blog post for that update) and flew to Chennai. We are saying our hellos to Southern India now. David and I traveled to India in 2007 and 2010 but only in Northern India. This is our first exploration south and we are looking forward to it and enjoying it already. It’s a lot warmer! In Chennai Tamil is the language. Our little Hindi that we were learning is not much help here. There are over 20 “official” languages among the thousands of languages spoken in India. Interestingly, we were told that the common language spoken is English. So if someone from Rishikesh who speaks Hindi but not Tamil travels to Chennai where they may interact with someone who’s original language is Tamil and doesn’t know Hindi but both know some English so then they converse in English. It’s fascinating to me. In Chennai we walked the beach, ate dinner on banana leaves with no silverware, and drank coffee among other things.
Now we are in Tiruvannamalia. It’s only about 115 miles from Chennai but it took us almost 5 hours by hired car driver to get here. This is where Sri Ramana Maharshi’s ashram is. More to come on that.