Will be meeting the heads of Ibex Expeditions, Mandip and Anita, in a little while in the lobby of the Park Hotel. After this we will be off to the airport for the long ride home.
Since we had a couple of hours we decided to venture out in
Market place immediately outside Park Hotel gate.
These two guys were very interested in
and worked as electricians
Three weeks previous when we had first made this trip a taxi driver at the gate told us that the street was closed due to an Indian Holiday and that only Indians could go to the street market.
He graciously was willing to take us to a place that was open and had great and very cheap things. Since there were about 1,000 people in the forbidden zone, all of which seemed to be having a great time buying and selling things, we ignored him (correctly) and headed on in to the market. The same fellow met us again this time and informed us that it was a Indian Holiday and that it was closed to foreigners, but he would be glad to take us to a wonderful shopping place in his taxi.
The Park Hotel taxi
man who informed us that it was a Indian
After convincing him and a particularly persistent and pushy three wheel taxi driver that we would preferred to walk the 0.5 km distance to the Cottage Industry Emporium, they seemed satisfied to leave us alone.
I was wrong. The
three wheel taxi man came after us, and as a good Samaritan and proud host of
his country, corrected our bearings and pointed us in the right direction. I should have been more suspicious. After a couple of blocks I didn’t recognize
the name of any of the streets and it was looking distinctly un-commercial. I carefully pulled out the map (careful,
because if the taxi drivers see you consulting a map they are on you like flies
on you know what) and determined that our good Samaritan had almost
accomplished his goal of getting us lost.
Miraculously their he was at our side again offering to take us to the
correct address. I had figured out the
correction and after some vigorous refusing, we were off. Ten minutes and three blocks later we should
have been at Janpath where we could turn left and intersect with
We finally arrived on a street that looked promising. A young man earnestly asked us where we were
from and if he could help. I still had
some faith in humanity, but Mo had gone to the dark side. When I said “we are American” and were
looking for the Park Hotel, he indicated that he was excited to meet Americans
and eager to direct us. After a few more
At 1900 Mandip and Anita arrived at our hotel and we had a very nice visit. Both of them are native Indians with vast experience in travel and a passion for adventure and the environment.
Mandip and Anita Singh Soin in Park Hotel lobby
Ibex has received several international rewards related to conservation and
eco-tourism. Anita has many connections
to the literary community of
We made it to the
This is actually a
perfectly in focus picture of how Mo was feeling in the
Plane was late by a few hours, but finally got off the
ground and to
You can take the girl out of the country.
Mo and Stacey in Stacey and Kelly’s living room in
10/29/2004: View of
Captured in the same camera frame you can see some of the finest and richest architecture and art and the most pervasive poverty on the planet.
There was tremendous peace and quite on our trek through the
Garhwal Himalayas. There was the
continuous cacophony of automobile horns, engines and people in the city. Our culture values privacy and space. Out of respect or fear we leave space between
ourselves and others yet physical violence and outward expressions of anger
permeates our lives. In
Walking a path in the mountains, separated in time, space and technology from the world I knew, was one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had. Being a passenger in a vehicle on Indian roads was at first one of the most gripping and anxiety provoking experiences I have had, but over time acceptance and surrender, combined with the newly learned skill of disengaging from reality, turned it in to a new form of entertainment.
In places like Rishiket you can see the modern world of
The country also has a very modern high teck side..
In 1947 when Gandhi’s non-violent revolution succeeded in defeating the British Raj it marked the end of 150 years of British rule. It must be remembered that this 150 years was just the frosting on the preceding 500 year Muslim occupation. At the time of independence there was no government infrastructure and no stable or identifiable economy, but there was a massive landless poverty stricken population.
The British occupation had created a wealthy Indian
aristocracy that owned most of the usable land on the sub-continent of
Nehru’s main task in 1947 was to decide on a form of government. His choices were fascism, communism and democracy. Dictatorship was dismissed early. Democracy/capitalism was a nice thought, but he realized there was no government infrastructure to ensure good elections and no capital to support capitalism. Communism was favorably considered but private ownership was valued too much for communism to succeed. Sine there was no type of government that met their needs and limitations, Nehru and his cabinet created their own. This new government came closest to Democracy with elements of socialism. It was clear traveling the country today that government is little respected and has little influence on the lives of the average Indian.
One thing that you are always aware of in
Dharma is a key Hindu concept that teaches that a continuous, vigorous and focused effort at living this life as best you can is the key to advancing to a higher place in your next life. Ultimately, by living enough good lives, you can obtain supreme knowledge and be one with god. I think Christians just applied the “drive through” philosophy to this concept and shortened it to one life. One of the more contemporary Hindu Indian writers, Gita, described Dharma in this way, “And do thy duty, even if it be humble, rather than another’s, even if it be great. To die in one’s duty is life; to live in another’s is death.”
We associate Dharma with casts, the Untouchables and the royalty, but according to my Hindu book casts are not a Hindu concept and are rejected by the faith as well as legally by the Indian government. In spite of this, “class” or “cast”, is heavily used in employment, arranging marriages and allowing educational opportunities.
By all accounts Hinduism and Sikhism started a couple of
thousand years before Christianity yet they have no identifiable splinter
groups and accept all other religions as valid.
Today in the world there are 34,000 separate Christian groups with
11,000 alone in the
Hinduism, as well as
Looking back at the people and the country I can say they are the toughest, hardest working, least complaining, most generous and loyal, economically the poorest and spiritually the richest people I have ever met.