Rishikesh to Delhi to Toronto, February 16, 2023
My last day here and what am I feeling? I can’t wait to get out of here. Breakfast was the same crap- chunks of papaya - if I never eat papaya again it will be too soon, watery, non salted oatmeal porridge and paranthas- a stuffed roti; it was supposed to be stuffed and I watched them being made outside in the tandoori oven, but once it was cooked, it was hard to taste the inside potato mixture and even harder to see it.
I had a tab at a local café for 340 rupees and believe it or not, they did not have change for a 500. 160 rupees is $2.50. Can you imagine a store almost anywhere not being able to make that small amount of change? And it’s not like everyone pays with a card- this is pretty much a cash only society. That’s a little bit of what the last month of my life has been like. Yesterday I asked Gopal, one of the owners or managers, if they had US dollars so I could get rid of my last rupees. No, was all he said but he did tell me where there was a currency exchange, just a short tuqtuq ride away. People pay for their school in all kinds of currencies so I was surprised by his answer but whatever. I’ve found him unhelpful the 2 weeks I’ve been here. The main money man, Sandeev was in his office today when I came down with my backpack. We had a nice visit and he explained he is soon coming to Canada to look for the perfect location to set up a yoga school. He has friends in Vancouver and Calgary and the Calgarians told him some kind of fairytale about only having to pay 2% tax so he thought Calgary might be the place. I told him I would send him some ideas- I wish he’d have mentioned this sooner because I had a lot of time I could have spent with him. Anyway, as he’s the money man, I asked him if he had any US and he said I should have asked him yesterday. I told him I’d asked Gopal, who just happened to be in the next room, and Sandeev came unglued at Gopal, in Hindi so I couldn’t understand. He bought $40 worth of rupees which really helped me out.
My ride came at 2:30 and we drove in silence for 5.5 hours. It took that long to go 224 kilometres. The drivers are so patient- no one shoulder checks but some do occasionally use their mirrors. Most just cut from late to lane whenever they feel like it. Indian people seem to have no concept or care for anyone but themselves. Horns are honked but dirty looks, hairy eyeballs and flipping the bird don’t happen. I’d go mental. Anytime in class when a teacher would ask us to come closer to see a demonstration, we of European descent would form a “U” so everyone could see. Not the Indians. Twice a woman stood right in front of me- right in front of me! Excuse me I said! She turned around and saw me and apologized and moved. Walking on the street, they will stop mid stride in a crowd, not taking care to get out of the way - they are oblivious to others.
Yesterday there was some sort of Hindu festival - there’s always a Hindu festival! There were a lot of trucks outfitted as men haulers-
and many walking on the shoulder of the highway carrying flowered arches or flags-
Sugar cane being taken to the sugar mills-
Even though it was more than 3 hours before departure, there was a long queue at checkin but soon I had my boarding passes, was through passport control and security - with an unopened can of Coke Zero and sitting in a restaurant having a beer. So wonderful! Because the flight left at 11:15 pm, I had no idea if we would be fed or just put to bed so I went to McDonalds, of all places. I had a McChicken and large fries, died and went to heaven! It was so good and my body thanked me, over and over.
I wanted an aisle seat but could only have a window seat but was told there was no one in the middle which is a huge bonus on any flight let alone a 17 hour one! When I got to my row, a man was sitting in my spot. Once he understood where he should be sitting, he was more than happy to stay by the window. Bonus! He’s a Sikh, originally from Punjab but is now a trucker out of Windsor. He’s been home since January 1 and also said his body didn’t like the food either!
They did serve supper and of course it was Indian. I ate the chunks of chicken but left the rest. We are so lucky to have such selection - I’ve had enough of garam masala!
I hope to sleep a lot and not be sick. There are only a few bathrooms for 200 passengers!