Where is Matteo Tricarico?? Finally out of India, the intrepid Italian push bike rider sent me some more updates, which I turn upon you… may they inspire many adventures, and help Matteo bringing forward his message of peace and solidarity… Monkey approved!
Day 481, chronicle 080, Delhi (N28°31.488′ E077°08.069′ ) India, 3 February 2011 03:10 pm -
On 16 January, I left the seductive Varanasi with the words of the Dalai Lama still turning around in my head, and I reached the city of Allahabad where Rajat and his extended family waited for me. They are family members of my Indian friend Pushkar, who introduced me to relatives and acquaintances already in other cities in the subcontinent, where I stayed as a guest. Rajat lives with his wife, parents, younger brother Pranat and a nonagenarian grandmother, with whom I spent many hours during the three days at his house. They are of high caste and Barristers of the High Court of Allahabad for four generations. Pranat, the youngest brother, married on 30 January after a two-month engagement with a young girl of the same caste and level of education arranged by parents. He invited to the wedding only a very small group of relatives and friends, just 700 people and as many as those invited by the bride! Allahabad is located where the two holy rivers of Hinduism, the Ganges and the Yamura meet, exactly at the point where Brahma, the god of creation, has touched down descending on earth. In this season, the wide sandy shores are transformed into a tent city that hosts millions of pilgrims who come here make to purifying bath, called “holly dips” at the confluence of two rivers.
The 19 and 20 were spent in Ayodhya, a place that gave birth to five of the 24 tirthankars, the masters of Jainism, and the mythological hero Lord Rama of the epic that bears his name, Ramaiana, besides being a of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. The city is the most picturesque of the whole subcontinent. It has remained intact with its narrow streets frequented mainly by sacred cows and large groups of monkeys so used to living with humans, who are able to approach them easily, but not close enough to touch them. At every corner stands a temple Shivaista, easily recognizable by the bull Nandin patiently waiting to be ridden by his owner, or dedicated to Krishna with the walls painted a soft pastel pink. All these sacred places are also home to holy men, ascetics, religious and samana dressed in orange, pink and white, with long rastafani hair and beard, often holding a stick ending in trident, also symbol of Lord Shiva.
From January 21 to 27, I travelled a thousand miles to reach New Delhi in time for the arrival of my loyal friend from college and early working years Giacomo, who also this year chose to spend his month’s leave with me, and this time it’s happened to India, that was missing in his book of visited countries. On the 23th, I spent the night outdoors in a bush on the edge of the motorway 91, suspended in my hammock unused for more than six months. To combat the bitter cold of the night, I put almost all my clothes and I slipped into my sleeping-bag, managing to keep an acceptable temperature. In the middle of the night, I was startled by a pack of stray dogs barking furiously a couple of feet below me, I had to leave my warm cocoon to chase them away throwing stones to them and shouting like Tarzan.
I have been in the Indian capital for a week now and I’ll stay a couple more days. I spent time wandering around the city with Giacomo and visited the Akshay Pratishthan, a school for poor and disabled children. I also went to the Pakistani embassy that refused me a tourist visa and I was absolutely forbidden to cross the country by land for “security reason”. So I have to fly from Mumbai to Dubai and from there through the Persian Gulf by ferry to southern Iran and thus continue by land. That’s all for now, until next time.
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