India

Slow Walks and Frequent Talks

The definition of wander is “to walk or move in a leisurely or aimless way.”

I am enjoying this practice.  We walk along the river, walk on the busy streets, walk in the markets and always find ourselves stopping to talk with people.  Practicing a few hindi words, learning about what they are doing, how they are, are they from Rishikesh or somewhere else? David is much better at this, I often find him stopped some distance behind me still talking with someone along the way, exchanging phone numbers, and friending people on Facebook.    We have been following the progress of the group of men woking on building a cricket stadium in our neighborhood.  Each day, morning and night, we generally see them and stop and talk to discuss the progress made since we last talked.  
We have met Prem, our neighborhood sadhu, who seems to take care of the tree alter.   We can only verbally communicate for about 1 minute or less – in hindi we say hello, how are you.  And then we just smile at one another and look into each others eyes.  He continues to talk to us in hindi but I just smile as I have no idea what he is saying.  It all seems very kind and is a sweet interaction.  We bring him some offering each day; piece of fruit, food, or some sweets.
There are a number of children we see daily; always running up to us and trying to sell us items for offering to the river (flowers, little candle/flame, etc) and asking for money.  There are sometimes 1 or 2 and sometimes 10 or more all around us asking for money and requesting that we buy please…only one?  After seeing them again and again we have a playful and warm conversation with them. Sunil has become one one of my favorites – he held my hand as I dunked into the Ganga river one day.
It’s said that going in the Ganga washes away all your sins.  What an great feeling!  It’s good to cover all the bases.      
People also stop us and want to take pictures with us.  It’s an interesting thing here – Indians here on vacation and those who live here, young boys and older adults, couples and families – all have stopped us to ask to take a picture with us.  It doesn’t seem to matter where we are from but I guess it’s the color of our skin.  It’s kind of funny to think about where we will show up around India in family photos.  Today was a family photo on a boat.  The parents told the kids to go sit with auntie and uncle, meaning David and I, for a few pictures.
Because we are wandering about I am able to take in sights, colors, sounds, smells, and sensations that I might not otherwise notice in a hurried pace.  
There are amazing things everywhere that constantly surprise me.   Some days the senses exhaust me and some days I am energized but there are always little reminders to stay present.  Click here for a video of the market.