Rishikesh is stunning. I am sitting at the DevRaj Coffee Corner at the Laxman Jhula bridge at dusk. The ganges river winds between soaring green mountians and the temples nestled on the banks look like 10 story castles in a children book. There are two walking bridges, the laxman jhula, where I am staying, and ram jhula where many of the ashrams are located, about 2 kil away. There are many foreigners here. Mostly Brits and israelis. My Indian friend tells me that the Israelis come here after their 2-3 years of mandatory military service is done. Everyone here seems to be on some sort of yogic spiritual journey which includes hours and hours daily to loll about in cafes and smoke until you can't see throuh the haze. People come here to stay until their visas run out.
My favorite cafe/hang out spot so far is the pyramid cafe in laxman jhula, on recommendation from a 65 year old french lady i met at the farm. You have to climb a fairly steep hill about 200 meters to get to it. It's cosy, away from the chaos, and has a great view of the river and town. They serve all organic here and they even make their own kombucha! (the vinegary carbonated drink with live cultures that repulses pretty much everyone but Camilla and me.) They have wi-fi access and phenomenal vegetarian food, which explains how I've managed to spend half my waking hours there.
I had day four of cooking lessons today and then just laid out on the roof and read all day, feeling guilty that I wasn't power walking to all the pilgrimage destinations. Then an Israeli girl materialized on the roof with a thick rope, attempting to tie it to the rickety balcony guardrail. She is trying to teach herself how to tightrope walk. Apparently her guru can do it, so she thought she'd try it on our roof. After we deduced that this particular roof might come crashing down, based on the spiderweb of faultlines at the base of the railing, she went back to her own roof. In the distance, over the ashrams of rishikesh, I could see her very steadily and successfully navigate the rope accross her roof. An odd but im sure very pleasureable way of wearing out your visa.