India is busy.
I mentioned this before right? Well, naïve was I to think that what I had seen before encompasses the scope of busy-ness. The scale of which is completely incomprehensible for those who have not tried to cross a bridge designed for walking pedestrians. This is what they call Lakshman Jhula or Luxman Jhula, both pronounced the same I believe, but I’m no expert. However this much I know: the name literally means the “Lukshman swing” and even for people on both sides waiting to get on, it might be confusing why a bridge might be called a swing. But I can assure you, for the enormous number of determined people (and the dozens of motorcycles) sharing the breeze and the sun in this creatively organized chaos, this is no mystery. Despite looking like a feat of engineering, a very sturdy steel structure supported by lots of concrete, the bridge swings. Up and down and up and down. Resonating with the wind and resonating with the people’s busy footsteps.
3 LEAP interns getting ready to cross…
The beautiful Luxman swing on top of the beautiful Ganges
Cow + Laura + Monkey + %&*$% = Profit
Over a weekend, the other LEAP interns and I had a chance to experience it ourselves, and needless to say, it was busier than we expected. It was such a popular bridge that we ended up sharing it with monkeys and cows. The water was fun to look at from the top of the bridge, but even more fun was sharing a raft with a bunch of others down the Ganges.
So many rafts, so many people
The weekend before, LEAP had a change to sit down with CORD in a small shop in Dharamshala. Well, what I mean by sit down was more like squeezing ourselves on the benches and tightly as we could and still some of us would be hanging off the side. But, look around, how else are the people sitting? We were physically squished into 2 rows.
We are still missing people
Now, it becomes more evident: we were also emotionally squished together, and it was more like a family sitting rather than an unfamiliar setting. Furthermore, having amazing paratas shared between the all of us re-inforced this notion of sharing and enjoy each other’s company. The friends were great, the food was great, this country is busy, but fascinatingly comfortable.
What is even more impressive is the extensiveness of the familiar comforts one finds in food and family. As we wandered around as a confused flock of foreigners, sharing the heat of the “Sun”day, we wandered into a post wedding celebration of food after food after food. Wander is a bad word. We were all invited and they even wanted to invite more. It was a wonderful sight of waves of people sitting and eating, talking and laughing, singing and sharing. It was the first time that I got the opportunity to stuff my face with my hands with amazing food on wonderful banana leaves.
Do these colors not seem soooo enticing?
And then there’s one more place which has completely shattered the naïve notion onto which I held of crowdedness. After a fruitful relaxation is Rishikesh, LEAP interns made one last stop before heading back to Home Sweet Yamuna Nagar: the holy city of Haridwar.
Beautiful water, beautiful colors, beautiful lights
Considered one of the seven holy cities, Haridwar is where the Ganges enters the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India for the first time. According to the Samudra Manthan, one of the more famous stories in Hinduism, this location is one of four sites where drops of Amrit, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda. If that doesn’t sound holy moly amazing to you guys, I don’t know what will.
People sharing songs, chants, and more lights
I mean, there were literally thousands of people, crowded around the rushing tides, all of whom wanting a little of the elixir for themselves. There were even venders for containers so the visitors can bring a bit of the immortality back to where they are from to share with family and friends.
Sharing the goodness of the land with the waters
We arrived just in time for the Evening Aarti, and the bright colors, flowers, lights and plants were plentiful. One mighty river cutting through the heart of India; it is so amazing to see so many people sharing the pleasures and reaping its benefits.
Flies fly up, up, and away
I guess these thousands of flies also were interested in immortality. Don’t worry there’s more than enough immortality to go around…… or they were interested in the bright lights, I don’t know. Their priorities might be a little different than ours.
By far my favourite picture of the whole trip.
They may be big, they may be dirty and they may be smelly, but they get thirsty too. There more than enough to share.