Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rishikesh - More Fun and Adios...

[Concluding post of what started with Rishikesh Ahoy! and continued with Rishikesh - Being There.... Whew!]

Darkness descends. Out come the shawls and jackets. The sky starts filling up with stars and just goes on and on and on. It actually takes this trip to realize that there are so many of them up there. The insect life in the surrounding forest cover gets more vocal. A bonfire is lit. We forma circle of chairs around the glowing embers and warm our hands and feet. There’s a sweet ache in the muscles. Snacks and drinks commence. So do the anecdotes and banter related to the morning. Alcohol starts taking over. The sky looks beautiful. She snuggles up to me and makes herself comfortable. (I now know what heaven feels like). Someone breaks into an impromptu dance. Others cheer him on. We chat late into the night, taking breaks to chase glow worms. Dinner is laid and is easily one of the best meals of my life (it ain’t just the food, you see). And yeah, there isn’t any electricity or running water. Problem? Not one bit! Sleep is peaceful – not everyday do you have the Ganges lull you into slumber!

The morning is chilly, simply because it takes a while for the sun to peek over the surrounding hills and swathe the valley it its warm glow. Hot tea is served in small steel mugs that allow you to warm your hands around them. Mmmmmm...There is a sense of anticipation as we watch the sunlight crawl down the hill on the opposite bank of the river till it reaches camp and embraces us. A massive breakfast later, we are set to repeat the rafting stretch. Interestingly, the last thing we all feel is ‘been there, done that’.

We bid farewell to the camp staff that has looked after us as if we were royal guests, and not paying customers. There is a lingering sense of regret as we drive downhill – couldn’t we have stayed for one more day?

The drive back to Delhiis the worst part. Every limb hurts. All forms of pollution clog your senses. Cell phone coverage resumes. Madness takes over. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can take away the euphoria that lies within. And, of course, the warmth that washes over me when I hug her as she sleeps like a baby.

So, coming back to the original question, what draws me to this place? Is it the same thing every time?

Maybe it’s the feel of the sand on the back of my head as I stare up at the stars. Or the quaintness of the kerosene lanterns that dot the camp as dusk sets in. Or the sense of anticipation of catching a spectacular view of the valley as the car rounds a bend in the road. Or the sheer contentment of holding her against me, removed from it all.

I’m still not sure about the answers. I guess that’s why I just can’t wait for October. Maybe I’ll find out this time!

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