Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is that a deity in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

So this was it … the moment of truth. Rebirth, or miserable, cranky old bastard for all eternity?

As we wandered out of Haridwar Railway Station at 5.30am, dazed from the brilliant blue sky and the early morning sun after a pretty rough over-nighter on a rickety bucket of bolts, the first thing to confront us in Haridwar was an enormous billboard advertising Haridwar’s main export; a line of male underwear called “Macro-Man” (he-heh “enormous” billboard - that’s pun number one already – oh yeah, I’m on fire tonight!).

It felt great to be back in Haridwar; apart from the clean air and surrounding landscape that boasted an elevation above 3m (maybe I was just happy to be out of Delhi), it was fun to again be among the fragrant masses of dreadlocked, saffron-robed sadhus stoned out of their skulls and listing from one side of the street to the other, the brightly coloured saris of the female Hindu pilgrims and the buzz of the busy, bustling, tortuous streets of the old town crammed up against the banks of the Holy Ganga (aka the River Ganges).

It was here that we flopped gratefully through the door of the stunning Haveli Hari Ganga, our hotel on the river which had once housed the feudal master of Haridwar. The marble-lined halls and the hanging gardens in the courtyards kept the place pleasantly cool and the immaculately re-constructed Mughal terrace overlooking the river, with its thousands of bathing Hindu pilgrims, was a great place to take a break from … the humanity.

Sitting up there in the morning sunshine, it suddenly struck me that someone in Haridwar has made a whole heap of rupees on the back of an illusion. As I watched the male bathers performing their holy rituals in the fast flowing waters, I noticed that every one of them was wearing very, very tight, brown underpants. It would seem that North India’s answer to David Copperfield was the criminal genius behind Macro-Man Underpants. It’s quite simple, really. Market your product on the basis that every bloke thinks he’s got a gianormous wanger, and that he needs a good pair of “Macros” ‘cause obviously nothing else has what it takes to do the job. Then you sell everyone a pair of jocks that’s three sizes smaller than indicated on the label and before long, every metrosexual in town is believing his own publicity. Take it from me, I know it’s true ‘cause I’m typing this at a pitch that's three octaves higher than normal! “And why brown?”, you may indeed ask … well, I guess if you’ve forked out all your spare roops on the Macros, you may not have enough left to pay the laundry-wallah!

But enough about Donkey’s y-fronts. Mrs Donkey and I had a great couple of days exploring and revelling with the other pilgrims in the numerous Hindu temples in and around the town – s’strange yet energising experience, coming from sombre old Catholicism, to join a singing, dancing mob of thousands as they progress through the alcoves of a hill-top temple throwing colourful flowers on a couple of immaculately dressed Barbie dolls, but I kinda like the gay abandon of it all.

Later on, we joined millions of people on the banks of the Ganga for the Ganga aarti; the evening river worshipping ceremony at which people release into the rushing waters their hopes and wishes aboard little boats fashioned from folded leaves, and filled with flowers and candles. It’s a magical sight to see thousands of these little sparks rushing by to a soundtrack belted out by six or seven very loud, discordant bands blowing horns and banging away on drums. This all ended with an awesome display of fire throwing and another rush of humanity towards the flames in order to rub them over sari-shrouded heads and turbans. Incredible!

Worshippers at the Ganga Aarti. Photo: Sally

More temples on Day 2, followed by a dip in the Holy River in order to hedge my bets, just in case God actually turns out to be a monkey, blue, have an elephant’s head, be a sexy dancer … or any other of the multitudes from amongst the Hindu pantheon. It was then back on the train for a deep sleep before being dumped unceremoniously on the filthy platform of New Delhi Railway Station.

But as the Donkeys wandered slowly through the crowded car park, I didn’t seem too fussed about the rude, pushy rickshaw-wallahs falling all over themselves in an attempt to rip us off. I even enjoyed flying through the dark streets as we made our way south past India Gate. Dunno if it was the clean air of Haridwar, the thrill of the trains, the luxury of the hotel, the spiritual sojourns in rustic temples or the dip in the filthy, freezing Ganga, but something had definitely changed. True, it could have been the bulging illusion of my newly oversized genitals that put a bit of a spring in the steps of Mrs Donkey and myself, but whatever it was … it felt good.

India had again shown me what beauty is, and what life should be … I’d taken a deep breath of Hindu-inspired gusto and now I feel a great enthusiasm to make a go of this place. Donkey’s had a wash … and it’s good to be clean again. Now, where are those undies? … ah, here we go.



Sadhu in the hills above Haridwar. Photo: Hagas.


sabrina said...

Hee hee. You are hilarious la dude!

DonkeyBlog said...

Hi Sabrina, thanks for dropping by ... am glad someone seems to like it.