Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Risihikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Rishikesh is a wild party city in the state of Uttarakhand in India.

Anarchy in the UK ( Uttarakhand ).

Okay fine, it isn't.

I had visited Rishikesh with the immediate family for about a week around October 2016. It is a town at the edge of the Himalayas through which the river Ganga flows, having originated some 100 kms earlier. The people along those 100 kms are either too few in number of some of the noblest Indians around because the river is quite clean until a little after Rishikesh.

Even if you aren't the devout sorts, there's plenty to do and drive to for a 3-4 day trip such as -

  • Walk around peeking into ashrams and yoga dens and generally chill next to the river,
  • Devote a day to rafting, bungee jumping, etc.
  • The Neergarh waterfalls offer a nice trek and pool at the end of it to relax in,
  • And the origin of the Ganga at Devprayag

The Ganga

It's the crowd puller so get it out of the way.

Alaknanda + Bhagirathi = Ganga
This is also what classification problems look like if you understand the domain.

The ashram where the Beatles once stayed charges INR 500 for entry so it's very hello, goodbye.
You will spot an isolated beach nearby where you can go and pretend to be the Beach Boys and renew the rivalry.

The reflection of a rapper's smile.

Lots of people float stuff off after aartis.
If you can resist the urge to push them into the water, like
the gentleman in black there, you have the power to
 control your temptations and are on your way to moksha.

What do you do when you really want to carve out
a river but there are lots of people in the way?
Grab a bulldozer by the horn.

On the Road

The 6-8 hour drive from New Delhi has some good stretches despite most of it being through Uttar Pradesh. The bridges in Rishikesh however, named after Ram and Lakshman, aren't built for cars and are probably a major embarrassment to those two considering a monkey general from their army built a bridge out of floating rocks which carried an entire army across to Sri Lanka.

The implication for you is that if you're in a car and headed to the eastern bank of the river then you need to drive an additional 10 kms to get to the other side. If you arrive before 6pm then you need to drive 3 kms on top of the 10 because the road through the town is very narrow and you are asked to instead drive around the town through another road. This other road is closed after 6pm because once in a while, elephants cross it. The alternative before 6 pm is to take a road that crosses over near Haridwar itself. A flowchart would have probably made this easier to understand.

When I go home, I'm not allowed to leave
the dinner table until I feel like this.

Always wear your seat belt.

The Lakshman Jhula...
... but if you ask an honest man, bridges are sort of boring.

That bridge is the one that vehicles can cross. It's manned by army people who are clueless about directions
to any nearby places. Like those people go on work trips, stay in their hotel in the evenings, and go back.

As a deterrent to riding an animal drawn vehicle
on a highway and causing a pile up, the driver should
have to get married open reaching their destination.

The Population

The proportion of foreigners in Rishikesh is extraordinarily high. At first sight, most of them seem like hippies and / or yoga and Hinduism wannabes. Once you talk to them and they say namaste, and hari krishna instead of hello, thank you, etc. your suspicions are confirmed. In this pursuit of knowledge and truth, some of them come across as extremely unprepared such as a couple who were unaware that alcohol and meat are prohibited and wanted directions to a nice bar.

Apart from these folk, you will also spot a lot of cows, ascetics, and monkeys. As a group, that is only one prime minister short of the Hindu All Stars.

Kids, and even adults, were requesting pictures with white people.
The way things are going, they might never get to see any.

A man whose career involves resisting all worldly temptations.

"You came to the wrong neigbourhood, mootherfucker."

It probably got lonely in all that time in the mountains and forests and whatnot.
Maybe Frodo and Gimli got cozy one night which led to this.

Manchester United leaving no
stone unturned to get results.

Wedding pictures with the bride and / or the groom wearing aviators is a thing nowadays.
It isn't funny anymore. Please stop.

The Food

The food varies between meh and I'm-hungry-it-doesn't-matter. The lassi, however, is good at the two Chotiwala restaurants next to each other and it's better in the one on the left. If you've had good South Indian food then you can skip Madras Cafe despite it's rating on TripAdvisor. Be adventurous and don't get sucked into eating pastas at the slightly posh Green View / Green Lake / Lake View. When things look bleak, focus instead on the cheerfully misspelt items like idle sambhar and milk-cornflex and graffiti-ed hoardings of Coca Cola asking you to give your body love and not coke.

Mein Kaffee would be a nice name for a German cafe.

Maybe Harry Kane affectionately calls his daughter Sugar.


The who's who of Rishikesh, all the nearby tourists, and some locals had gathered to celebrate Dusshehra next to the river. When a lot of low-tier celebrities are invited to an event, the time of the audience members is abused in at least two ways. The first one stems from the celebs jostling to secure an upgrade; if the celebrities are mostly public officials and religious figures then these efforts take the form of patriotic, political, and spiritual speeches, which, when mixed together, get Lord Ram compared to Narendra Modi and Ravan to Pakistan. The second one is that the event cannot be started until the last guest has arrived and therefore the more guests that have been invited, the later the event typically starts.

We were fortunate to be packed next to a couple of gentlemen from Bhopal who, in the best English they could muster, were trying to check with some Korean people, who spoke very little English themselves, whether they knew Jackie Chan.

Someone must be getting kickbacks.

A bunch of clueless, excited white people are huddled up just outside and all along the frame.

If the slot is still available, I would like to nominate Icarus as the God of Moths.

Members of the law enforcement guarding Ravan and his family.
This country needs a revolution.

Out of focus fireworks which are more Instagram than Blogger but still.

Out of focus fireworks which are more Instagram than Blogger but still.

The rest of the army is marching to war while upper management
stands around, gets pictures taken, and takes 130 times the salary.

The ancient Hindus started the Burning Man

Literature Survey

Books have played a central part in religion and out of respect for... uhm, okay fine, whatever, never mind. Nobody really reads books. If you've actually read all this text then you're part of a small minority. Most of the folk will look at a few of the pictures before getting distracted by something else. I don't know why I even put in the effort.

BKS Iyengar, Yoga Nazi.

We probably bathe very differently now than how our ancestors
used to 2000 years ago. I think the primitive bath would have
consisted of going to the nearest water body, cupping some
water in 
one's palms and splashing it onto one's body.
Post-crucifixion Jesus is my best bet for inventor of the mug.

I've been dilly dallying about subscribing to The Economic Times.
I guess it isn't for me.

Why variable pay was invented.

"How to live in a household, " is a great example of choosing the
wrong sample to conduct research. In this case, most families
will find it hard to relate to the family of the god of destruction
with his pet cow, pet snake, percussive instrument, a very
moody wife, a son with the head of an elephant and his
pet rat, and another son with six heads and a pet peacock.


A bulb benefiting from the Cheerleader Effect.

If it weren't for my mother, I would have walked past the government run handicraft store in the main market.
My life would have been just the same and we would all have saved about half an hour and some money.
The performers.

The agent.

During the first Boston Legal episode, Al Sharpton
storms into the courthouse to support the cause of
racial equality and asks for a black Spiderman.

We may already have a brown one.

Nice of them to report their less than flattering KPI.

And the total truth is that you have a small penis.

*Without using any kind of psychedelic drug*

And is either a fraud or has never met anyone who
was thinking he looked like an idiot in that hat.

A beauty parlour and cooking classes at the same place is going to attract
the attention of 1. matrimony seekers, and 2. health and safety inspectors.

If you are the sort of unlucky bloke aged 30-40, male, and
British, whose phone auto-corrected the text you sent to
your travel agent and replaced stardom for salvation.


Haridwar is a few kilometres downstream of Rishikesh and is the more heavyweight religious tourism town of the two. The tourist attraction of dumping things in the water starts off here. It is also home to Mohanji Puri Wale where they sell some really good puri meals.

Apparently there are 35 crore devas in Hinduism.
Makes for a tough game of Where's Waldo.

After Seal and Heidi Klum split, his rebound may have been canine.

The adult, deluded version of paper boats.

Asking for blessings looks very similar to punishment in fifth grade.
Which makes sense, actually.

This is one slip from being a great setting for a rendition of We Didn't Start the Fire.

If you prayed for some weight loss and are extremely optimistic, then
there is this guy sitting a little way away from where the aarti happens.

Neergarh Waterfall

If USA survives long enough to get another president who wants to fight climate change and close Guantanamo -
in the top right corner you can notice the potential for a renewable resources powered water-boarding facility.

Spiders can also succumb to long lazy bouts of not dusting around the house.

It's probably all spiders. The smarter spiders just build their houses in less dusty areas.

Some others prefer living in a housing colony where you pay maintenance and the RWA takes care of the rest.

Maybe the reason we lost our tails as a specie is so we could appreciate asses.

Anil Kapoor insect.

Lizards need to work on their puppy eyes.

When a friend returns from a visit to the family and brings food.

What the inside of your nose looks like.
PS: This is not the waterfall.

What a nearby ant feels like when you're taking a leak in the open.
PS: This is the waterfall.

Adventure Sports

You could swim in the river and find a cosy spot away from the rest of the world like these gentlemen.
Once you've farted to your heart's content, you can return into the water or back to the coast.

There's zip lining which is like a three-legged sack race for Superman.

There's bungee jumping, which can change your life.
One way is if someone, which could be you, dies.
The other one is how they make you look up when you're jumping, and you wonder what
that look before you leap talk is all about. And then you can't help but question everything.
For instance, that time when you tore your jeans at the knees or the hem but instead
of stitching it in time you passed it off as fashion and it didn't cost you nine.
Or how you've never taken a horse to the water which didn't partake on arrival. Why
would anybody take horses to the water if they didn't want to have any to begin with?
And if haste makes waste then why do we have deadlines?

And it's 83 metres high.
After it's done, you need to climb up the 83 metres on foot yourself.
Cliff jumping is just jumping off a rock into the water and I don't see the big deal about it.
Everybody has a life jacket but quite a few people reach the edge only to turn around
and get back down in a literal enactment of the phrase, the fear of taking the plunge.

There is also rafting with very casual safety instructions because, again, you're wearing a life jacket and you're an adult.


Flora and Fauna

There were other trees with only the regular roots and they were doing just fine.
I think aerial roots are only to enable gluttony.
If you can teach a monkey to play stone-paper-scissors, you will never
be bored. Avoid teaching them more complex games like Monopoly
and Life in case they figure out how our world works and overthrow us.

Gareth Bale before (R), and after (L).

The matrix has a glitch.
uberPOOL for punishment.

Women, as soon as they spot someone approaching them.

The ancient Hindus also invented pokemon.
(Magnemite is what you need to look up.)

Other Sights from In and Around

On the bright side, you are never inconvenienced by road widening projects.

Stacked area charts are a bad visualisation to use when you have lots of categories and can only do greyscale.

I don't care if my son was a god, he'd get his ass
kicked if he stood in the way with his aura and flute and everything while I was doing the chores.

Apart from The Beatles, other celebrities who have visited Rishikesh includes Captain Planet.

While the juvenile Belgians were busy making urinating babies.

There are plenty of these pumps and almost all of them had leaking taps.
That is one of my major concerns with the government snooping on my communications.

Shiv is a freak with a third eye and destroys everything.
Nobody gets him.

Remember mood rings? Well, mood rooms.

When you're lost but your Uber driver knows the way.

If they add a donkey head, they could sell the water as a Moss Cow Mule.

The pool cleaning team wearing the colour to aspire to.

Ms. Singh, on the other hand, could not be found.

Dhol mates.

These two pictures were shot within a few metres of each other.

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