Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Kumbh Mela’

The Rishikesh Rumble

In India on April 14, 2010 at 8:10 am

All was going well a I sat down to eat Mama’s delicious thali last night. I’d got talking to a bunch of Swedish people over dinner who were planing on heading off to Haridwar today for the mad and massive Kumbh Mela festival. I decided on a whim that I would go with them and we had to be up at 5am to make sure we could get there.

An early night was required so at 9am I tucked myself in and tried to drift off.  One hour passed, then two and three and all the time I didn’t have a Delhi belly, more what i now have coined the Rishikesh rumble. My stomach was bloated and gurgling and I didn’t have any antacids to heal my pain. Big mistake. Come about midnight I got ‘the rush’ sprinted to the toilet and proceeded to yack my guts up. Mama’s thali didn’t taste so good this time.

Eventually I did managed to get some very broken sleep and luckily wasn’t sick again so decided to tackle the day head on and arrived at the Swede’s guest house as arranged at 4.55. The first of my co-pilgrims greeted me and he’d been up all night being sick too. I thought it was going to be a pandemic and the day would be called off but he was the only one that was ill so was staying behind. We started off walking towards the town and all of a sudden I got ‘the rush’ again and spewed down the hillside like a volcano erupting curried lava. Still, at least the cows will have a tasty treat today. I went back to bed and thankfully haven’t been sick again…yet.

Red marks the spot for a tasty roadside meal for the cows

A ‘Youth’ Hostel, Thinking of Doing Yoga and a Russian Couple

In India on April 12, 2010 at 6:20 am

It seems strange to be writing about Saturday now when it feels like I have done so much since then. But when I was back in Delhi I decided to move into the International Youth Hostel. I’ve stayed in one of their hostels before in Zagreb and it wasn’t very good but their one in Euston looks really nice so i thought it was worth a try. This is the kind of thing I was expecting at a youth hostel:

Party time - how it should have been

But the reality was more like this:

How it was - This man snoring for 10 hours

The average age at the ‘youth’ hostel was probably about 55, so after a night with them all snoring in some kind of orchestral fashion in different times, pitches and paces; I checked out.

During the day I did lots of amazing tourist things. I went to the Old Fort, Humayun’s Tomb which apparently the Taj Mahal was based on and then onto the zoo where  i got whisked around in a limo golf cart for 50p. The standards of welfare at the zoo were actually okay. I was expecting them to be horrific but there was of course the standard pacing animal. London Zoo has their pacing tiger, New York has the pacing snow leopard (looking much happier in this video than when i saw it going mad) and Delhi has their psychotic lion.

On Sunday I spent most of my day (nine hours) in an air con taxi going from Delhi to Rishikesh via Haridwar with a Russian couple and their one year old child. I’m not quite sure how I ended up with them but I originally went to the bus station to hop on a bus that should have taken five hours. The queues for tickets and the panic to get on crammed buses was too much to handle or even understand and these group of seven people from Belarus said i should share a car with them. An hour later I was in a car with the yoga king of Moscow (apparently he owns a yoga school there) and the queen of Goa (she had been there for the last four months) and a child (which i think was theirs) who would go around eating dirt when we stopped.

We were originally going to just stop in Haridwar but the problem with that was we arrived at 10pm and the legendary Kumbh Mela was in full swing. Imagine Notting Hill Festival but over the whole of London, or Glastonbury ten times the size and in a city. There where tents everywhere as we drove through and the whole town was covered with fairy lights. So it would have been nearly impossible to get accommodation. Amazingly though all of the traffic was  still moving! Check out this video Chloe sent me before I even knew I was going to Haridwar to get a sense of the occassion.

I luckily called ahead to a hotel i’d been recommended by the only youth in the hostel, Mama’s Cottage on the High Bank in Rishikesh. She only had one room left (the one i had reserved earlier in the day) which the Russians got so I had to sleep in her lounge with her young son/cook on the sofa opposite me. I have to stay in the lounge tonight too because she is still full. I don’t mind though it’s only £1.50 a night, i get to call her mama and she’s currently doing my washing. I’m off now to explore why The Beatles fell in love with this place.