The brown river, a favorite place for some to cast bodies into, is quite a different color when viewed close up. Every inch is a swirl of gleaming silt and chocolate. Every inch a mysterious energy. The rapids only amplify this power into full on dancing waves that one could surf. The melting chocolate began to cleanse me of the grasping and judgement I had earlier been steaming over - the open wiring, trash, wild animals, crowds, horns... All started to escape my conscious.
Days earlier I could not stop holding to my notions of "living standards" as I recalled frustratingly seeking shelter in a cafe that had a leaky roof. The owner's friend had sent some money via Western Union to try and fix up the river side café, serving water and coffee crystals. I tell him about micro-lending - he basically asks me for some cash. I flipped out, nicely, and identified 10 things they could do to improve, starting with picking up the F-ing trash. We then surveyed cafe property, family living in back, and shreds of Abuja Cement bags around. I left, wondering if I was a total prick, poor attitude amplified by my current vegetarian diet mandated by the city. Shiz I forgot my headphones at the cafe shack. My headphones that cost more than the dang shack were hanging off of a wooden support "beam" (stick) in the one dry area in the place. Now I really felt like an arss. Oh, the Bose headphones were hanging next to my Patagonia visor: gross. I returned to see the owners diligently fixing the roof. Righteous I thought, as the raft leader yelled "Paddle!"
My reflective river trance that was stroked by warm canyon breezes ended with a dousing of brown water, as we voluntarily dipped into what looked more like an ocean. Screams of delight were shouted as we broke through to a brief calm before the next section. Back into the raft, "Right side harder, harder!" commanded our leader. I was on the left, nothing to do, except watch the approaching brown walls of water. As though a dark hand reached from the depths below, I felt the raft being lifted from under, the holy river had turned agro, lifting us from below...
The night prior I had witnessed a fight started with an angered lady striking a guy with a water bottle in front of a temple. Water bottles turned to fists as orange robed practitioners of non-violence raised their hands in protest. Slowly it became a mob against one dude and some began to pick up stones and rocks. Seriously, STONES, when everything broke up. The calm had been upset, water polluted, currents changed, and a wave had crested. My thoughts all culminated, so full of judgement and palak paneer, and now in the middle of the current, current, now, finally in the moment and then: darkness.
I had been hesitant to put my feet in the Ganges and now I was deep under water. I am tossed far from the raft, with many more rapids to enjoy, sans raft. I surface and survey what is ahead. A giant brown wave, seriously huge. And I thought the wave was kinda cool, but what mystery generated this thing? The Ganges cleansed my thinking once again with a mercifully short hold-down. Seconds could have been hours though... Time was lost or gained? Contradictions made sense. I bobbed down the river, eventually reuniting with the soaked crew, non-swimmers white in the face – which was quite a complexion change. Once ashore I bummed a beedi. Others had celebratory curry flavored potato chips and coke.
I sank into the evening, becoming more and more local. I ate a fabled $1 meal and bathed with the large AND small bucket that had sat lonely in my shower. My guru referrer spotted me in town and invited me for chi. But no. Coffee, to go, an Americano was the order. I still remembered the purpose of this journey and returned to my work, to find a different kind of enlightenment.