Rishikesh

We have been in Rishikesh since Sunday. All is well. We have touch-and-go internet access here these days. Will try to get back to weekly posts but it may not be so.

Weather is cool again but pleasant during the day. Lonavla was getting quite hot before we left, just like Goa was before we left.

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Tea and Toast

5 Feb – We are keeping up an old tradition, Tea and Toast. Almost every late morning we walk out of the front gate of Kaivalyadhama and walk a block to the main road and the coffee shop at Kailash Parbat for tea and toast. This morning I took a picture for you.

Click to enlarge

Click here to see more pictures of Kailash Parbat toward the end of the page. We posted them in January, 2015.

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Meditate

Question to ask: Who am I?

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The Happy Swami

Our first week here is going to be a series of lectures and meditations with Swami Anubhavanda. Also known as The Happy Swami, we have listened to and meditated with him several times before. We have a couple pages of pictures listed of him on our India Index page from when we were with him in January, 2015.

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Kaivalyadhama

29 Jan – We flew to Mumbai today and took a cab inland and up a thousand feet to Kaivalyadhama (K’dham) in Lonavla. So much cooler here—it was getting outright oppressive the last few days in Benalim where it was over 100°F (almost 40°) every afternoon. When we walked the 2 miles (c. 3 kilometers) home in the late evening from the beach we entered our very hot room sweating profusely already. We could only lie on our bed under the fan for fifteen minutes to cool off before doing anything. It will be nice to not have to take two showers a day.

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900 100s

28 Jan – The currency situation remains restrained here. There are new 500 rupee bills in addition to a new 2000 at the airport in Mumbai but they haven’t gotten out to the provinces. When you get money at the ATMs here, you get 100 rupee notes. On top of that there is a 4500 rupee limit per transaction. That’s about $66. For our day-to-day operations we usually get twice or three times that to avoid excessive visits to ATMs; we do a simple second transaction at the ATM we go to get around the restriction and it works. But in the end we have ninety 500 rupee notes to carry us through the next few days. That’s a big stack of notes worth only $1.50 each.

Back in early November India began to withdraw all 1000 and 500 rupee notes from circulation. To “combat the black market;” they were to be replaced with new bills. Everyone was to take their 1000s and 500s to the bank and exchange them. Beyond a certain amount they also had to pay tax. The logic being that half of India’s economy is black market and if you had more than a certain amount you must have earned it on the black market and the government wanted its tax share. Once you turned in your money, you could get only 2000 rupees a day—in 100 rupee notes.

By now, you can officially get 4500 rupees a day. It seems that some ATMs (like the one I go to here in Benalim) do not keep from transaction to transaction so you can simply execute a number of transactions to get more than the official amount for the day. No one told me; I just tried and it worked. When this gets all straightened out is anyone’s guess; but it is a lot of hassle for the small business places. We brought backup dollars and euros in cash in case we couldn’t get rupees as it was rumored. Dollars and Euros always work.
Later in the day – So now they made a liar out of me. I went to an ATM in Benalim and got two 2000 notes from one and four 500s from another. But one would only give me that 4,000 and the other only 2,000 rupees. So limits are still varied and not at all consistent.

Someone said on the 29th that India says all will be ok by April first. I didn’t have the heart to tell that Indian what that day is in the US. Me thinks it will take longer.

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Republic Day

28 Jan – The 26th was Republic Day, the day India got their independence from Britain in 1947, 70 years ago after a couple centuries of subjugation and exploitation. It was a surprisingly quite celebration. Though there were a lot of people taking the day and long weekend off, there were very few fireworks which noisily celebrate so many other Indian holidays

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Eight peacocks

28 Jan – As we came down for breakfast yesterday, a flock of eight peacocks were grazing around the rice paddy next to the guest house. Beautiful birds. The peacock is the national bird of India. Its image graces all manner of official papers and buildings.

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Eight peacocks

As we came down for breakfast yesterday, a flock of eight peacocks were grazing around the rice paddy next to the guest house. The peacock is the national bird of India. Its image graces all manner of official papers and buildings.

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Arriving with the help of angels

Our trip to India last week began normally: up too early, breakfast, taxi to the train station, and leave the station on time. But half an hour down the tracks, the conductor announced, “Everyone must get out at Neubeckum. The track ahead is blocked by a train that ran into someone.” Nothing more. In Germany this usually results in a two to three hour stop of everything.

Our train stopped at the next station. We all got out. There was no one to help anyone.

We had a flight to catch in Frankfurt and a lot of kilometers to go yet to get there. Our schedule called for this regional train to take us to Essen where we would catch a fast Inter City Express (ICE) to take us the rest of the way. That would get us to Frankfort at 12:49 giving us 2 hours and ten minutes before our flight. It was already 9:35 or so.

But now we walked through an abandoned and boarded-up station in a small town asking each other, “What now? Is someone going to help us? How are we going to continue?” We went outside. Petra and I wandered around through the crowd.

Petra spotted a woman in a black Mercedes across the street. Their eyes met. Petra walked across to her and asked her, “Do you know where I can get a taxi?”

The woman answered, “They are usually over there.” There were none.

Petra explained our situation and that someone had killed himself. “So we were all left off here so the train could go back to where it came from.”

The Woman said, “I am here to pick up my sister. Now I know why so many people are getting off the train?”

Petra asked, “Has your sister called you? Do you know where she is?”

“No, I have no phone. I left it at home. I have to go there to get it.”

Petra said, “You can use our phone. Do you have the number?”

“No. I still have to go home to get the number. Maybe I can take you to the next station along the way. You can probably get a taxi there.” We got into her car.

As we drove, the woman remembered something and began to fiddle with the knobs of her radio, Soon a list of phone numbers came up on her screen. She selected her sister’s number from the list and called it out to Petra.
Petra called. Our phone was almost out of money, but Vodaphone let us put the call on credit. The sister answered.
The woman spoke with her sister a bit and handed the phone back to Petra saying, “You are lucky. She is stuck in Hamm so you now have a ride all the way to Hamm.”

Hamm is a larger city with many train connections. There were no expressways to take us the 40 kilometers (24 miles) to Hamm. But she was up to the task. Out on the regional roads, she gunned it. I glanced at the speedometer. It was sitting at 140 kph (87 mph). We went the distance slowing down for slower trucks, cars, and villages only to speed up again when she had passed them.

At one point as she sped down the road, I said, “You are our Angel today.”

She answered. “You have to tell my husband that.”

In Hamm there was a parking place right by the station where her sister was waiting. We got out, said hello to the sister, thanked the woman, headed into the station, asked our options at the information desk, and were on a departing regional train is less that ten minutes.

We were on our way to Cologne where we caught a fast ICE train to Frankfort airport 20 minutes after arriving. The train sped down the tracks at 280 kph (160 mph) most of the way. One time it was up to 299 kph (185 mph). We arrived at 13:30 only 40 minutes later than we had originally planned.

This was a day of angels. Without the woman (angel 1), nothing would have happened on time. Without Vodaphone (angel 2) advancing us a couple minutes, we would have been much later as the woman went home to call. Without the open parking space (angel 3), we would have missed our ride to Cologne to catch the ICE. And from the other side, we were angels (angels 4 &5) to the woman: without our phone, she would have spent a lot more time finding out what had happened and calling her sister. Thank you, Universe, for lining that all up. And finally, thanks to Petra for following her intuition and contacting and going with the woman in the Mercedes. The German Railroad would have taken care of us in time. But we chose a different path and made our flight on time. Of course, you are free to see these as serendipities or even just as coincidences. We see them as the intervention of angels.
The rest of the way was basically routine flights, first to London, then Mumbai, and finally Goa.

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