|We are back in Saga, will take a bucket bath after 8 days|
In the room, we watched soap operas in Chinese, and tried to figure what was going on by the expression on the faces. We visited the shops on the street for things to buy but found nothing. The stores are meant for travelers who have forgotten things, and not for take-home gifts. I wanted to buy some CDs with Buddhist chants that the drivers had played in the cars, but we were not able to locate them. After Seema and I had walked the length of every market street in Saga, we came back to find a group of people gathered to sing and play antakshari in Swamiji's room with Bollywood songs. I would have loved to escape but I could not have gone very far - my room was next door. Seema, Swarn, Gaurav and I sat around for a short while, and then went out to take long walks up and down the roads, aided by my handy-dandy flashlight headband.
We walked past one of the "discotheques" that Swarn had described - body-shaking, hip-grinding Bollywood songs could be heard on the street from gigantic speakers attached to the outside of windows. Swarn had told us that fully-dressed Tibetan women dance in the beginning, before the floor opens up to the crowd. Wonder how they dance to "item songs" performed by extremely talented, flexible and scantily-clad Bollywood actresses. While walking in the dark down the market streets, Swarn asked us a couple of times if we wanted to go in, but the rest of us are practically a generation older and had no interest. Instead, Gaurav had philosophical questions - life, death, contentment, attachment, happiness... we discussed our life experiences and where we thought we stood in our journey while Kajrare Kajrare... played on the speakers. We could have talked all night except I think I was falling sick.
The lukewarm bath and the air-drying of hair was taking its toll and I was quite sick by night. I was very fortunate to be in a room with Seema, Swarn and Pratibha - people I did not know two weeks ago and whose warmth and affection carried me through my misery. For the three nights that we have shared a room so far, we have laughed hysterically as we shared our experiences - all of us sit in different cars and have many stories to tell at the end of the day. Today, I sat up in bed at night for hours - I had a head cold, an aching throat and fever. As I sat in the dark, unable to sleep, unable to breathe if I lay down, smelling camphor to alleviate the discomfort, my life of two weeks ago with more beds and baths than people in the house, and running hot and cold water, and heat cushions and massage chairs was a distant memory. The mind was in a state of ecstatic joy but I needed my tired body to sleep and rest before we left for Nyalam in the morning.
One of the windows in the room was open for ventilation and the incessant patriotic music from the Chinese military base and the ceaseless howling of the street dogs could be heard continuously like the vuvuzelas. Hope they have been banned from FIFA by now, it has been a long time since I watched soccer.
Tomorrow, Shesh Bamba hotel in Nyalam with the multi-storeyed bathrooms.
Aum Namah Shivaaya!!