November 18th, 2006 – by: condoug
Hi to all! Today is wonderfully sunny and the smog hasn't rolled in yet we are camping at Mrs. Bhandiries campsite. We are in the Punjab now and about 32 kms from the Pakistan border. Almost everyone here is a Sikh, so all the men wear turbans. Our guide "Avtar" is a Sikh, and a very knowledgable one at that, and is giving us the tourists quicky version of Sikhism. Today I (C) am feeling much better. Yes that means that yesterday I wasn't feeling so well, in fact I was as sick as I think I every have been in my whole life. Doug figures it was food poisoning or a touch of Ecoli, Yuk!! Not as far fetched as it sounds considering we are sharing our living space with 5 water buffalo cows and 2 calfs, they are cute but their bathroom habits leave something to be desired.
The Golden Temple, strictly a yellow scarf affair.
They also get hosed down a couple of times a day and the water runs off into our camping area. My apologies to those of you out there with weak stomachs. India has a unique scent as it were this is due to the fact that a great deal of the cooking that goes on is over a fire made of dried cow sh*t , it makes for interesting camp fire smoke. So needless to say, I did not go out yesterday, except to the toilet. Old Iron Guts Doug did though, so here is his commentary on the Golden Temple, the holiest site to Sikhs.
While Constance was running the Indian Delhi Belly marathon I went grocery shopping. This is a particularly interesting experience in India. This trip gave me some insight as to where Constance might have contracted her little problem.
Photo's do not do it justice
Apparently, flies are also avid grocery shoppers here as well. In fact, they turn out for the event in their trillions. Sometimes, you have to shove them out of the way to inspect the produce. As they also appear to take an intense interest in all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables not to mention meat. The virtues of vegetarianism grow stronger in my mind with every day I spend here. Shopping in India is based on the same model as the New York stock exchange. Lots of yelling, jesticulation of body parts and so forth. After supper we a group of us went to the Golden Temple. Before entering the temple we had to take off our shoes and wash our hands and feet and a Sikh guard puts an orange cloth head covering on your head.
Changing of the book
I hope the previous occupant had good hygiene. How long before you know if you've contracted head lice?? The Golden Temple is an amazing place at night. It is like a large marble fort with a huge courtyard with a huge reflecting pool in the centre. At the very centre of the complex is a large gold plated temple (about 100kgs worth, so the guide book says) which is accessed by way of a causeway. There is a constant stream of worshippers streaming in and out of the central temple. There is a continual chanting of prayers and the playing of drums and East Indian instruments. It really was an amazing experience. Almost hypnotic. We went all around the temple complex and were able to enter all areas of the temple.
Our trusty guide Avtar
We were invited to drink the holy water from the temple pool, but not wanting to contract the holy typhoid I declined the offer. Another equally amazing experience was the ride there and back in these three wheeled contraptions, auto-rickshaws. The drivers of these tourist killers would make excellent video game players. I felt like I was in the game called Auto-Rickshaw Death Race 2006. Anyway, all went well and everyone came back a little greyer but in one piece. Tonight we are off to see the changing of the guard at the Pakistan/India border post. TTFN C&D