© 2015 by Belinda Woodhouse

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Ganges Style

December 26, 2015

Hello My Darlings,

A peaceful story for you today so sit back and relax and enjoy. 

Sailing down the mighty and holy river of India, the Ganges, your sense of peace radiates like the rays of the powerful sun overhead (which feels like it is half the distance closer to earth and burning through the roof).

Freshwater dolphins can still be found there and yes, when those graceful creatures grace you with their presence you feel honored. Fishing alongside the numerous small fishing boats out on the river they go peacefully about their business as if the fisherman didn’t exist. They ignore the fishermen, the fishermen ignore them. All's peaceful.

 

 

 Temples line the shores in places with their ghats (stairs) reaching all the way down and disappearing into the Ganges herself. You see the Hindus believe in this river. It is the giver of peace and the waters, holy. They come to bathe in it, sit by it for health, get peace from being near it and some even take a bottle of the holy water home to put on their mantle which they believe will bring peace to their homes.

 

I surely felt peaceful gliding along, the only sound being that of dipping oars as they gently take you on a relaxing ride. Even the boatmen are relaxed. It’s sweltering and they calmly row along, just happy to be there whereas me….well, I’d be sweating buckets and swearing like a sailor at the heat. Oh hang on, I was a sailor so I would be normal but still sweating buckets.

 

Always happiest near water and supremely relaxed had me dozing with one arm and one leg trailing in the water to cool down. This works a treat by the way, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation. The steady rhythm of the oars lulling you into a deeper sleep until all of a sudden you are slowing, then stopping. Why are we stopping this wonderful ride?

 

 

About halfway through our little convoy of three stops. Just stops. Right in the middle of the river. A second boat approaches. The kitchen boat. Yes they are the delightful souls that have cooked us lunch along the way.

Talented men, they have made so many dishes. My favorite being Lauki Masala. Made from a vegetable very similar to our Choko I’m told. Another favorite is present, Palak Paneer along with an eggplant dish that is just to die for. Along with many others these make up our delicious feast.

Oh, did I mention they are all vegetarians? A virtual vego paradise I’d never had it so good. Yes people, I am a vegetarian.

I know, I know, no one ever thinks it will happen to them but I am that black sheep in a family of carnivores. Don’t worry they still love me to bits anyway. Always fussing if I’d had enough ‘salad’. Bless them.

 

And our destination you may ask? The banks of the Ganges for an overnight camp of course. Setting foot ashore, the vast expanse of sand laid before your eyes is staggering. Seeing trees in the distance makes you feel small. Bells carry the distance clearly with no obstruction as the local temples sound sunset. I remember thanking Ganesh (he’s my favorite) for the opportunity to watch a sunset and a sunrise over what millions if not billions of people consider a holy river. And what a beautiful sunset! I know there is a lot of sand, but I swear it’s the river bank, not the Sahara. I wouldn’t fib. Dad says it’s wrong.

 

 

This is the best way to see India in my opinion. On a dead calm river, watching dolphins and being rowed for the first time in your life. I was doubly excited. Firstly, I had never seen freshwater dolphins and that was pretty amazing.

Secondly, I always wanted to pretend to be Cleopatra being rowed down a river on a huge boat. It was all so elegant and glamorous when I was a little girl. Reclining gracefully as sixty shirtless men rowed, muscles rippling. Now however, as I am writing this it sounds like a fantasy submitted to a womens forum. It didn’t sound so ‘Mills & Boon-ish” when I was little. Purely innocent I swear.

 

And in my defence the boat wasn’t that big, we weren’t on the Nile (I am aware of geography, I’m not delusional), there was two men rowing not sixty, with shirts on and I hate the idea of slaves. So this was my fairytale version. No slaves. Boat big enough for comfort and my fantastic imagination. A wonderful compromise. Plus the boatmen love doing this and are paid well (I asked) so I didn’t have to feel guilty about lounging around. And one was about 60 so no fear of erotic fantasies there.

 

This two day adventure is my favourite memory of India.Well that and setting Silks on fire (that story another time). Fresh water dolphins were a big item on my bucket list ever since I was a little nerd reading National Geographic and dreaming of other lands.

And of course, there’s the Cleopatra thing which was fabulous (once again, not as pervy as it sounds) and another childhood dream fulfilled.

 

Here’s my Cleopatra impersonation. I look just like her! Apart from the hair, makeup, Queenliness and remaining fully clothed (I couldn’t pull off a midrift leather emsemble)…..we could be twins hahaha.

 

So ladies, if any of you fancy being rowed down a river by sweaty men, the Ganges is definitely the place to do it. I cannot promise they will be young. I cannot promise they will be shirtless. I can promise they will be lovely, feed you well and make it a memory of a lifetime. 

 

 

 

This was my boatman who was such a gentleman and beautiful soul.

 

I hope you enjoyed your little sailing trip with me and I do sincerely hope that one day, you experience it yourself.

(maybe your guys will be shirtless....a gal can hope)

 

 

 

 

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