Today was our last in H., the holy city on the Ganga River. After such a good day yesterday connecting with pastor Wilson again, we continued exploring the city today. We went to another temple on the other side of the river. It was pretty much the same as the one we already visited. Same set up and same type of environment. It was a bit smaller, and it was a touch cleaner. Three things have to be described here to help you understand what we are experiencing. I’m confident that it is impossible to fully explain, but I’ll try a short version.
First, there are people of all sorts, mostly Indians. Since this is a holy city with many religious pilgrims, different nationalities also come. They come in all sizes, mostly shorter than Americans, all ages and all kinds of dress. Some dress pretty much as a westerner, sort of. The men wear slacks and shirts and sandals or shoes. However they are in the minority except for young men and boys. The older men tend to dress in traditional dress for men in India- linen slacks with no pockets, and a shirt that is very long, coming down to their thighs. Some older men wear a gown type garment with a shawl-like sash. These men also tend to wear turbans. I pretty sure the turban is a religious designation. I hope to find out. Most men who can grow one have a mustache. Many men have full beards, especially older men who wear the turban. The Indians, men and women, usually have beautiful black hair. A few for some unknown reason to me use red dye on their hair.
A few of the younger women wear western style clothes such as jeans and blouses or shirts. However, the majority of women and girls wear a cloth around their waist that makes a skirt, a top that covers their mid waist to their shoulders, and a shawl-type cloth that they drape over their shoulders. Their clothes are beautiful and very colorful. Women also often wear piercings in their nose and several ear piercings in their ears.
There always seem to be beggars- men, women, and children. It is hard not to give them something, but when you do, it attracts many others. We try to give only food when we give anything. When we walked through the city, people would stare at us. Some would talk to us and want their picture taken with us. We were like stars!
Second, we have eaten an almost all Indian diet. Curry is in almost everything, and if you don’t like it or at least tolerate it, you don’t get too many choices. In H., it is impossible to find any meat. So we were vegetarians for several days. We had many new dishes most of us had never eaten. A., our guide, and Liz could tell us about some of the dishes. We had a pancake-like food with tomatoes or cheese or onions, without syrup. Toast or sandwiches for breakfast was normal. We had fried veggies with an interesting batter and spices. We had chick peas, spinach, potatoes, carrots, beans, and rice. Various sauces added detail. Food was plentiful and inexpensive. We found one western restaurant and ate there today for lunch- Dominos Pizza. It wasn’t exactly like our Dominos, but it was great!
Third, we have been intrigued by the modes of transportation. There are many cars, mostly made in India and Japan. We did see two Chevrolets. But there are more of other vehicles such as motorcycles and scooters, horse or mule drawn carriages, and rickshaws. Three types of rickshaws are used in H. There is the pedal driven, the three wheeled motor driven and the three wheeled large version called a Vikram. We used all three kinds of rickshaws. It was almost funny to see the bicycle rickshaws we used today to get to the train station. Liz and Ron shared one, and with his backpack and Liz’ backpack, the driver had a very hard time going up slopes. Twice he got off and pushed. Once Ron got off and helped him! Trains are very helpful in India to help people get around. They are punctual and relatively inexpensive. There are two classes. The common class has no air conditioning, less comfort, and no food service. Upper class costs more, but it also has air conditioning, bigger seats (reclining seats too), and good food service (for India). Upper class is how we traveled twice and will again tomorrow.
We have pictures and memories already. But you cannot fully understand this country without a visit. The sights defy a camera to fully show the reality. One must hear the sounds, smell the odors, touch and talk to the people, and taste the food to get a little understanding of the country and the reason we are here.
Thanks for your prayers and concerns.