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My room, my life, my people …

I found myself a room in Rishikesh. I love my room.

The building seem to be new, rumors say it was built last year. Considering it’s only first days of February, that means not long ago. It looks like no one stayed in this room previous to me. I might be wrong, but, so what. It’s not a big thing if I am the first one to stay here or not, but it feels like it was waiting for me.

The building is made out of bricks and plastered with cement, two of the new materials used for house building. Bricks holds both heat and cold. Unfortunatelly not the way one would wish. This morning we had 7 degrees celcius in Laxman Jhula, cold and humid The bricks and cement holds the cold which makes it even colder inside. When the weather here is hot, this building will be hot too.

People used to build functional houses made out of mud and bamboo. They are cool in the summer and offer some warmth during winter. But that is not at all a modern way of building houses so people suffer from cold and heat i a completely different way now. Being modern.

This building is built as a hotel. The owners live in the area on the ground floor which is the most common thing to do in India if you own a smaller hotel or business. On the first floor there are four exact rooms, squarish with two beds, one bedside table and two chairs. The bathroom is modern containing one sink, toilet and shower. The balcony is facing east offering some warmth these chilly mornings.

It is a thursday morning. I am standing on the balcony enjoying the view and the sun. Oposite my balcony is a school. I havent seent the children but I can clearly hear them. And their female teacher. I hear them loud and clear. When the teacher is teaching, her voiceis is in a shouting mode. School in india and a lot of other countries in Asia have the Memorising – Reciting way of teaching. Becoming an engineer is not different from going to primary school. It is all about memorising,

Memorising and never questioning what one is being thought. Such a different way from how I raised my children and the school I chose for them. Theory is all good but learning by doing, mixing theory and practice, using critical thinking and debating what is being thought is in my believe crusial. This is not happening in India. Nor in many other coutries in Asia for that matter.

There are some popular educations in India. At least when it comes to the parents liking and kids do as their parents tell them to do. Becoming a doctor or an engineer are two of them. The latter is a very theoretical education. You memorise theories but never get to do any experiments to try the theories. This is what I was told from a newly graduated engeneer.

So I stand on my balcony and listen to the voices of these children, I listen to their innocense and I wonder what they see for themselves in the future in this society which has so much theoretical knowledge combined with a high lever of authority.

Last days of january and the mornings are still very cold. This morning we had gale winds making it difficult crossing the Laxman Jhula bridge. The bridge was swinging, the power of the wind making me lean to my left to hold my balance. The weather is moody and we are all waiting for it to find its inner peace.

I walk through empty steeets. This is the best time of the day. Only a few chai stalls are opened. Most cows and dogs are still asleep and the monkeys are just waking up, making their distinct screaming noises. My favourit chai stall and second home here in Rishikesh is where. I am heading.

Rani is here today. Beautiful Rani. She has a special aura around her. It’s not that she is constantly smiling or doing anything special. She just has something coming from within.

Women in india don’t smile. It would be inapopriet showing anything that could be entrerpreted as an invitation. In Rani’s case that is so obvious she has to keep a distance to the men visiting the chai stall. Even though she is married and well respected in the community, she still is low key towards people she is not close to. I am one of the lucky ones she will grace with her amazing smile. Rani, my Indian sister.

I love this place, the chai shop where one can watch life happen. The ones who come here early in the morning are on their way to work so the discussions are a bit different from the spiritual ones later in the afternoon. The chats in the morning are more of a practical matter. Even Indians who are now fluent in English mix their speech with some english words which I am grateful for, then I can grasp the essence of the conversations bustling around me like flies. Issues are discussed, stories are shared, business partners are found, the locksmith having a chai just got himself a job, people coming and going while Rani is making chai.

Some stand, some sit, but we all try to keep warm. It is us, the humans, and one cow and a couple of dogs. All are welcome, we all stand close, trying to keep warm.

Since a few days back I have a new daily routine. I wake up early, put the kettle on, I arrange my writing spot with blankets, pillows, iPhone and keyboard, make myself coffee and then start writing. I do so for a few hours and then make myself a delicious breakfast containing two boiled eggs, broccoli, collie flower, tomatoes and roasted almonds. Then I either continue writing or I do some laundry, clean my room, enjoy the sun on my balcony.

Then I head down to the village across the bridge. Meet up with friends, chat, go for a walk, do some photography, and have chai and more chats. I have my second meal and at 5 pm I meet up with my pupil, a 17 year old girl I tutor in English. Then probably another chai and chat at the shai shop and eventually I head back to my room and I end my day in the light of a candle and the smell of an inscent.