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Waking up this morning. Brrrr.

We've been here 6 days. Mornings are still FREEZING! Not used to it, still.

I'm thinking about the warmth of Thailand coming up, hot sun, warm water, two weeks away .... Its a daydream still of yet as I huddle in my woolies here.

The sun is out though. Which means today we can do laundry and I can wash my hair.

Doing either of these things in the rain of the past 3 days would have been completely useless.

Laundry would not dry and wet hair in this cold would be suicide.

Hahaha, well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but just a slight one.

Just getting dressed this morning after getting out of bed.... I can't do it fast enough. I have not mastered the art of getting naked and re-dressed in the morning without freezing my butt off.

I am thinking the secret must lay in just removing one article at a time and replacing it with another. Like... keep the pants on on the bottom while you take off your 12 shirts and put on new ones and then keep the tops on while you take off the 3 layers on the bottom. Etc. etc.

Anyhow... I'm happy to see the sun. By the afternoon it will be t-shirt weather, I can wash my hair and it will dry by bedtime if I stay in the sun.

I think one of the things that is a challenge is that the houses are made of concrete here, which makes the houses wonderfully cool in the spring, summer and fall when it is so hot out. But it also traps the cold in in the winter and what happens is that it ends up being warmer outside the house during the day and staying a bit damp and cold inside the house.

This is really only a problem for us foreigners with our weak constitutions and our broken internal thermometers.

I have noticed that those of Indian descent have a way stronger capacity to regulate their body temperature both when they are very hot and very cold.

So yesterday it rained HARD.

It was the day I had to take my mom and move her to a hotel near the clinic where she is doing a 10 day ayurvedic treatment and cleansing program with her ayurvedic doctor.

It's only about a half hour trip by car but it reminded me of why our family here avoids going out when it's raining unless absolutely necessary.

I took a video. You will see it all here:

We hired a proper taxi car to go there instead of taking a rickshaw, which was smart. You avoid the windchill and the hopping through mud and puddles with your suitcase to get to your destination. We had plenty of that on our walk to the dr's. So. Much. Mud.

And not just mud, but cow patties that have liquified into a soup from the rain and are blending with all the other water and mud running through the streets.

It's adventure for sure, picking your footing.

So after taking mom to the dr. and settling her into her very spa-like, very swanky, by Rishikesh standards, hotel (a heater, a kettle, toilet paper, a flat screen t.v. and ROOM SERVICE), I was satisfied that she would be well taken care of during her 10 day panchakarma program.

Panchakarma means the 5 cleansing ayurvedic treatments. So she goes there at 9am and stays until 12 or 1, does all the treatments and then goes home to her hotel to rest. I joked with her that I would go and camp out in her swanky and warm hotel room while she was at the dr. each day, order room service and watch t.v. Ha! It may not be a joke.

The trip home for me afterwards was a bit touch and go. It has been some years since I have made that trip on shared rickshaws, which is the cheapest way to travel. The proper taxi car we took there cost about $9 Canadian for a 30 minute trip. A private rickshaw would have been about $5 or $6 . The shared rickshaw SHOULD cost around 40 cents for the whole trip. But as a foreigner, I ended up paying around double, which you can't really complain about at 80 cents per trip.

The problem was, I had forgotten the "finer points" of making that trip. Ie. what colour rickshaw you need to flag down in order to be taken right downtown. Instead of green, I flagged down a blue one, which meant that I got dropped off half way at the intersection, still about 1km from the center.

I thought, oh, no problem, I will just walk it, but in the rain and traffic, with massive puddles and muck, it was tough going and so I eventually abandoned that idea, crossed the road and flagged down another rickshaw to take me to the centre.

It was only a 2 minute drive and he was going that way anyways, so I thought 5 rupees would suffice (about 10 cents). The driver didn't seem to think so, so when I offered him my 5 rupee coin, he handed it back to me with obvious dissatisfaction bordering on disdain.

All I had besides that was a 50 rupee note and a handful of about 6 rupee coins. Knowing that if I handed him the 50 rupee note, he would NOT proffer change, instead I held out my hand full of the 6 rupee coins and let him take what he wanted from that. I knew that the "fair" price for that short jaunt could not be more than 10 rupees, yet you feel like a bit of a fool, quabbling over 10 cents. Yet, I didn't want to come home and be laughed at by my husband for paying 10 times the normal rate.

I did that once with a manicure I overpaid for once. He thought it was hilarious that I had paid more than double what it was worth. "Tourist tax", I call it, and call it a day.

So the driver, carefully plucked every coin, one by one, from my hand, except he had the grace to leave me one rupee. Smile.

Now the center of Rishikesh town, the heart of the market, is an absolute gong show. When I first came to India the first time, I literally could not cross the street in the city. I didn't know how to do it safely and actually had my life SAVED on one occasion when I accidentally stepped off the curb after having not looked in the right direction for oncoming cars, only to have some complete stranger in the crowd grab me by my collar and yank me back to safety. I still do not know who did that, but I was grateful and a little in shock.

Of course now, I have internalized that the traffic travels on the left side of the road here and have not made that mistake again.

None of the same rules apply as at home, and when you don't know the rules and all the bikes and trucks and busses and cars and rickshaws and cows and bicycles all come at you in a solid wall, you don't know where you fit.

Back in those early days, ten, eleven years ago, I resorted to waiting until some women were crossing the street and I glued myself to their saris, snuggled in tight to cross with them to safety on the other side.

So it surprised me when I remembered yesterday how to cross the street safely all on my own.

Several rickshaws went past that I tried to flag down to take me back to Laxman Jhula but they were either not going where I was going or just had better things to do, I guess.

Finally when one DID stop, he quoted me 150 rupees ($3) for a trip that I know couldn't be more than 20 rupees.

I didn't hesitate to show him my dramatically shocked face for full effect as I shook my head emphatically "no, no, no, share!". "oh, share! ha!" he replied, and we took off up the hill. A couple other passengers hopped on for the 15 minute buzz up the hill.

When we got there, I had to offer him my 50 rupee note (pro tip if you are ever in India, keep your small change, 10 rupee notes etc. for paying drivers and buying small things as people rarely have change, especially for bigger notes, unless it is a fancy hotel).

So before I offered him my 50 rupee note, I asked if he had change. I knew he had because I had seen the others GIVE him change. "No, ma'am, no change". To which I smiled at his attempt "yes, yes, you have change, come on". Defeated in the game (but only partially) he opened his little dashboard to reveal 40 or 50 rupees worth of change. So I bravely handed him my 50 rupee note and was pleasantly surprised that he handed me 30 rupees change back! I thought that was fair. It was somewhere between what a local person would pay and a complete rip off, so I was content.

Today I think I will avoid the craziness of the market and shops and stay home, do some chores, then head to river to meditate and shoot a yoga video for my members.

Just a peaceful day for me today.


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