There is one big chunk of humanity lining the banks of the Ganga tonight here in Haridwar. Wow. They arrive from many places in India, with bags typically balanced on their heads, find a flat spot and call it good. They're sleeping on concrete with a piece of plastic under them and a thin blanket over them, and they'll be up before dawn to take their holy dip in the icy Ganga on that very auspicious day. The spirituality and devotion is beautiful to see.
Less beautiful to see was the giant rugby scrum I got in today, trying to squeeze a mass of enthusiastic pilgrims through a tiny opening in the barricades leading to a bridge. For some reason the police just stopped letting people through, so families and groups were separated and unable to reunite. It wasn't clear what they were doing or why, or how to get back together if you were separated. I could have just wandered off, since I didn't need to cross that bridge, but the chaos was spell-binding and too fun to miss. At one point I was in the middle of this throng of enthusiastic pilgrims - everyone was pushing so hard that I thought if I was being pickpocketed I wouldn't even know it, or be able to do anything about it. And I was right! When the smoke cleared I was minus my phone. Since I had a lot of your phone numbers and a few e-mail addresses in the phone book, don't fall for any "send money" scams.
My train leaves in two hours, so I'm off. We'll chat again in 40-ish days or so...
Love, love, chaos-filled love,