Saturday, April 23, 2011

Walking in Rishikesh (Touch)

There isn’t much to say in terms of touch on my little walk. Unlike the busyness of Delhi, this back street next to the Ganges is pretty empty on Indian terms, and you can mostly avoid walking into people. The most noticeable things about touch are as follows.

Wind: the wind and the breeze bring the cool water with it. The Ganges comes from the mountains and snow melt-off, and thus is very cold, almost like lake water from home. Therefore, as I walk down the street, often a cool draft washes over me, a refreshing relief from the heat of the sun.

Sun: the sun beams down on bare skin, feeling like warmth and energy and making my body become covered with a fine sheen of sweat. It is not unpleasant; while being in the open areas can be hot at times, halfway through my walk the street becomes covered, and the shade feels cool compared to the intense rays that caress you the rest of the way.

Road: the road is uneven, not so much as the city where dirt, pot holes, and pavement are often interwoven as though it was designed to keep you on your toes, but just from natural wear. Mostly, the road remains a nice concrete with divots and cracks which your feet can comfortably navigate.

People: people in Rishikesh mostly manage not to run into one another, but there is the occasional brush of a Sari, a hand stretched towards you for money, and the dance which weaves you in between motorbikes, people, carts and cows, situating you out of the way of obstacles. While I do not physically touch these things (mostly) as I walk, just as you can feel an outstretched hand in front of you face with closed eyes, you can feel that these things are around you, zooming by you.

Motorbikes: as motorbikes zip by, the gusts of exhaust often fall onto your skin, air puffing into your face. It is vaguely unpleasant, but mostly a gust, like warm wind. And of course, I move quickly, feeling my body strain and jump as I get out of the way of the speeding death traps.

I tried so hard to avoid most touching on the streets of Rishikesh. The experience is so different than that of the city, where touch is often unavoidable. There is a sense of calm, almost as though your body becomes situationally in tune with surroundings through your sixth sense, as though you know the things around you and must dance around them, rather than throw yourself head first into the crowd. It taps into a different sense, one that is less physical, but equally important. One that propels you into the experience of this spiritual, buzzing, still little road.

No comments:

Post a Comment