And me... well, me and my husband were at Rishikesh for what anyone can expect from 20+ somethings, a weekend getaway and a quick river rafting!
We thought to be brave. Refusing the luxury of a boat, in which someone else toll, letting the excited tourist practice crazy poses and smiles for FB uploads, we decided for a raft where it is all about team work. The ticket comes with a warning though, if we get stuck in the middle of a huge Ganges tide, we might be thrown cruelly into the river by the ferocious current. But then, well, we had an experienced looking guide with us, a pretty sturdy life jacket and yes, our all willingness to give it a big yes! "So what! If it is raining, this is the best challenge Rishikesh can offer, we shall take it up, mate."
The raft went as promised, scared our wits out at every single high tide. We screamed and sang along! The weather too blessed our efforts, with a brilliant display of sunlight which seemed a huge relief for drenched with water souls. About three hours later, our raft hit the jetty. A little tired now and very hungry, we went back to the ashram where we met our parents with whom we came along.
After few minutes, sitting inside a restaurant, waiting patiently for lunch to come, suddenly we saw a new Rishikesh. The immaculately dressed Rishikesh, radiant even in her old age, the feel, the smells, the sights and legends surroundings the city beckon us. :-)
The city which seems like a abode of a householder and a wandering ascetic both. The householder who refuses to budge from the cosy nook, and the latter who has no home at all. I found both within the city. Rishikesh has, as my father says, changed a lot and steadily growing into a residential place. Earlier it was out and out a tourist mecca.
I had a life time experience in those two days, ate piping hot Maggi sitting by the roadside, felt the air which has the classic hilly contentment that one only reads about but rarely finds anywhere else, few tea-and-snack stalls, locals sitting peacefully around, drizzling which happened every now and then, we ordered chai post lunch as I thought over few lines, read few months back,
"The summer no sweeter was ever,
The sunshiny woods all athrill,
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness,
The wilds where the caribou call,
The freshness, the freedom, the farness, Oh God! How I am stuck on it all."
Sigh! the real world called us back soon, but for this Rishikesh, we would happily return.