Wednesday, 21 August 2013

POST 89

Hello and welcome. You are as welcome as the spring after a hard winter, and the summer of your smile brightens all who behold it.
Welcome to an episode in the Life of six students as they went from London to India by road in the sixties;- Excitedly they packed their rations, gear and bits and pieces they felt they needed. They had to conserve as much space as possible in the two long wheel based diesel land rovers.

Specially adapted for the tropics and desert. The second roof to allow air through, diesel tanks range of 1,000 miles by tanks inside and acted as seats and bunks.
The route was roughly as below:-
Slight variations, went via Dover to Ostend, Germany, Kashmir and Srinigar and some other variations.
Approximately 8,550 miles, and three months to get there and rest with site seeing, 9 months in India and diversion to Greece on way home.
They arrived at Dover and went by Ferry to Ostend in Belgium, thus leaving England and venture the first step in Europe.  Then onto the countries where the Cyrillic alphabet starts.  
alphabetic writing system. It is based on the Early Cyrillic, which was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School.[1][2] It is the basis ofalphabets used in various languages, past and present, in The Cyrillic script /sɨˈrɪlɪk/ or azbuka is an parts of the Balkans and Northern Eurasia, especially those ofSlavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian. As of 2011 around 252 million people in Eurasia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages. About half of them are in Russia.[3] Cyrillic is one of the most used writing systems in the world.
Cyrillic is derived from the Greek uncial script, augmented by ligatures and consonants from the older Glagolitic alphabetand Old Church Slavonic for sounds not found in Greek. It is named in honor of the two Byzantine Greek brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on. Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius.
With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official script of theEuropean Union, following the Latin and Greek scripts.
The group had to use a note book with the signs for their roads and towns. Their adventures were many and here the story confines itself to their purpose and spiritual quest.
There were six students three female and three male some were students of science, some of philosophy and some adventurers to discover culture and Life abroad, all were meditaters.
The sleeping arrangements that four slept in one vehicle and two in the other. The one with the two occupants had more gear in it. Three inside the vehicle two on the tanks /seats and the third on the floor and the fourth across a special adapted board in the front by driver and passenger and acted in day as a table.
Two large oil drums scoured and cleaned were filled with water and as vehicle bounced on the the rough roads, the washing got cleaned, and dropped the humidity and heat in the vehicles.
Oil  Drums

At night or at rest in the heat of day the two vehicles backed up and a canvas sheet was attached to the topical roof of one and the other of about fifteen feet long and the width of the landrover, then two canvas side awnings were attached by loops to the long one, so making a flat roofed oblong tent.  Climate and ground permitting these were sleeping quarters with sleeping bags and ground sheets. 
The experiences of the architecture, mosques, ruins and so forth are numerous and can be found by other over landers. Although the students took these in they were mainly interested in ' feeling the vibes' so to speak and although not guru followers were interested in Yogi's, Fakirs, Swami's and other kinds of anomaly.  
The quietness of the desert, as the salt desert contracted as it  got colder, like eerie footstepsthen solitude just the whispering of some of the people, gentle breathing of sleep, and one awake lying on the roof looking up at the stars, which seem to come out and feeling like being hoovered up into the Cosmos and lost for ever in Eternity.  Feeling of being overwhelmed, insignificant and then surrendering to the infinity and the rapturous joy of losing oneself in the awesome magnificence. Words, thoughts and feelings gave way to a rapture that is beyond description and yet on returning to tent or front sleep position, vehicle bed, it was difficult to sleep and all who experienced this felt this alone was worth the journey so far, and there were many more nights to follow.

Desert at night
The group were very quiet the days that followed these nights, as if humbled by the experience, as the town westernised young people were endeavouring to come to terms with the all and all of it.

Amazing, beautiful, powerful and humbling.

One night nearing the border there were the sound of horsemen. Eight riders were present a fierce looking man pushed aside the canvas and asked why were they there. One of the group answered and said they were students and wanted to learn about other cultures and values. All the men were armed with rifles and swords.

The head man  looked through the belongings and asked if there were guns, drugs or nasty things, he found none and they were invited to search and offered food. They declined. Our ladies had covered their heads, wore wedding rings and looked plain with no make up, the head man smelt the men, he grunted and they galloped off. Later we heard they were Pushtun's. A tribe that had come into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pashtun people (Pashtoپښتانه‎ Pax̌tānə; also spelled PushtunPakhtun or Pukhtun), also known as ethnic Afghansor Pathans[13][14] are an Iranian ethnic group belonging to Afghanistan and Pakistan.[15][16][17] They are typically characterised by the usage of the Eastern Iranian Pashto language and practice of Pashtunwali, which is a traditional set of ethics guiding individual and communal conduct. Their origins are unclear but historians have come across references to various ancient peoples called Pakthas (Pactyans) between the 2nd and the 1st millennium BC,[18][19] inhabiting the region between the Hindu Kush and Indus River, who may be the early ancestors of the Pashtun people. Since the 3rd century AD onward, they have been referred to by the ethnonym "Afghan".[20][21][22][23]
Often characterised as a warrior and martial race, their history is sSouthCentral andWestern Asia, centred around their traditional seat of power in medieval Afghanistan. During the Delhi Sultanate era, the Pashtun Lodi dynasty replaced the Turkic rulers in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Other Pashtuns fought the Safavids and the Mughals before obtaining an independent state in the early-18th century,[24] which began with a successful revolution by Mir Wais Hotak followed by conquests of Ahmad Shah Durrani.[25] Pashtuns played a vital role during the Great Game from the 19th century to the 20th century as they were caught between the imperialist designs of the British and Russian empires
Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and reigned as the dominant ethno-linguistic group for about 300 years, with nearly all rulers being Pashtun. The mujahideen who fought against the pro-Soviet Afghan government in the 1980s were also dominated by Pashtun fighters. Abdul Ahad Mohmand became the first Afghan and 4th Muslim to journey into outer space, spending nine days aboard Mir space station in 1988. Zalmay Khalizad became the first Muslim and first Afghan to become Ambassador of the United States. Many famous Bollywood superstars in India are of Pashtun descent. Some became high-ranking officials working for the World Bank, the United Nations and other international organizations.
They made up the majority of the Taliban and the current Afghan government. They are also an important community in Pakistan, which has the largest Pashtun population and constitute the second-largest ethnic group, having attainedpresidency there and high rankings in sports. They are the world's largest (patriarchal) segmentary lineage ethnic group. According to Ethnologue, the total population of the group is estimated to be around 50 million[1] but an accurate count remains elusive due to the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979. Estimates of the number of Pashtun tribes and clans range from about 350 to over 400.[24][26
ntroduction and history: The holy town of Rishikesh is located in Uttarakhand in India. It is located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas. The town is still known as the World Capital of Yoga. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Rishikesh is also the Gateway to the Himalayas, where the sacred journey begins from here. According to Hindu mythology, Rishikesh is the abode of Shiva, where it is also believed that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. In the recent past the town is also becoming a popular spot for white water rafting enthusiasts, both from India and abroad, as it offers medium to rough rapids in the course of river Ganges.
Pashtun men
Now Taliban
At the frontier they were told there could be a three day wait and hold up there as there was a queue of traffic some miles long.
Then from the hills the men who came to the landrover and searched went to the border guard and they looked at the students.  The students were a little concerned to say the least, the guards and tribesman came to the vehicles and they were taken to the front, checked and passed.  In India they asked why this was so? The guard explained this was a local war Lord, he said you were clean, respectful and had not weapons, drugs and even plastic knives.
Into Kashmir and Srinigar, the magic and actual feel of spirituality. The on the list was a visit to a place named Rishikesh.  introduction and history: The holy town of Rishikesh is located in Uttarakhand in India. It is located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas. The town is still known as the World Capital of Yoga. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Rishikesh is also the Gateway to the Himalayas, where the sacred journey begins from here. According to Hindu mythology, Rishikesh is the abode of Shiva, where it is also believed that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. In the recent past the town is also becoming a popular spot for white water rafting enthusiasts, both from India and abroad, as it offers medium to rough rapids in the course of river Ganges.
When the students were there it was not built up and they entered by way of an old bridge on foot.  This bridge was a little off of the main river and old man came out of sewer pipe.  He knew the students by name and they were dumbfounded and he told them of the Christian Yogi.  He apparently ate once a month and did a miracle for those invited to his cave. 
They were invited to his cave. He had a large bible on a sort of wooden cross, when the cave got reallyreally dark, the cave began to glow like a soft mellow background light, it then got brighter, and brighter there were no hidden lights, and were invited to examine for them.  The Yogi said now take photographs, and all flash lights were removed.  The photos never came out, and he explained they would not as this was the light of Christ. (the scribe has heard and read of this in other works). The students got their first glimpses of the mystics with the old sewer man and the Christian Yogi and of course the war Lord at the Frontier. They also told of the amazing synchronises that had accompanied them so far.

They recounted two incidents in which they towed some Australians who had an air cooled Volkswagen vehicle and could not move for overheating and rarefied air in a high mountain pass, a man who sold burgers and had worked in Soho in London at this high place, and a landrover repair when the students had their first experience of bargaining.  

 They visited Kashmir, Srinigar, then Delhi, a brief Nepal excursion, down to Calcutta and Poona, spent a little while trying to see Sri Rajneesh.
Sri Rajneesh. The 'sniffers' would no let them in. Apparently he was allergic to perfume, after shave or deodorants so they say.
The down to the South and Auroville.

Designed on a spiral galaxy
Auroville.
The students were lost for words and stayed a week.
Then onto to see the Red Hill and Ramana Maharishi's ashram, he had passed on before they arrived. They were lost for words at the beauty and the serenity and the sheer absolute meditative quality of this place.


Ramana Maharishi


Arununachala , The Red Hill and the Ashram. A simple affair then.  The students thought the Red Hill was like a small mountain.
Sometimes to make a break the students stayed at a DAK bungalow.
DAK BUNGALOW

A kind of rest house for travellers. This  one was simple and basic and a old man was the guardian, caretaker and like many Indian accents very hard to understand for Westerners and vice versa.

In this particular one they had charpoy's 

Charpoy


Charpoy Bed
This particular DAK had a six post arrangement with the legs all in tins filled with oil to keep the nasties away and a mosquito net over the bed.  All eight beds were in one kind of dormitory. One of the beds was on a slant and the Australian student wanted to make it  in line with the rest. The old man gesticulated wildly obviously not wanting him to do it.  However this young man said he had lived in the Aussie Bush and he could handle it. Candles out all went to sleep. About three hours in the Aussie woke up the guy next to him saying he was in trouble, a huge train of red ants were walking across his chest.  He was advised to be as still as possible. In the morning his midriff and chest were red raw from bites and thousands of feet walking across him.  The old man knew this and tried to warn him, so local knowledge is to be listened too.
A second incident of mirth. Whilst in the north they decided to go to Dharamsala.
 
Dalai Lama. His Holiness lives here.
Whilst there the students stayed a week and a half. At that time a famous film star was there. One of the students and the star became pals and they played jokes on each other. One day the student mentioned went to the bush to the toilet and a cobra reared up, he had put a blanket on the bush so that anything would hopefully go round the blanket. A Lama laughed at the distraught chap and said it was breeding and just a warning and the student had been doing his ablutions there for a few days.
Eventually the Dalai Lama came out and apologised for keeping everybody waiting. It seemed that to relax the Dalai Lama was roller skating round an old film on a screen and it sounded like Clint Eastwood and Dirty Harry, the famous star who knew the Dalai Lama said that this student could do a wonderful impression of the actor in the film.  The student was forced to  do this impression by the Hollywood Star and every one had a good laugh before everyone listened to  his highness and he answered questions.
The next part of the journey was go right down South and see one of the wonders of the world.
  
                                 The Sun Rise and Set In Kerala.
        Sunset in Kerala
The students said that the part of the beach where they were shown was very much like the sunset one. As the sun rose it was like stage lights going along the horizon, it seemed to feel as if it were in their abdomens, then as it rose it was red and gold, then the fiery sun, and it felt as though it was moving through their souls, their very being.  It felt as currents of energy were lifting them to the heavens.
Later on after bathing and resting they watched the sun gradually fade into the sea as if someone had pulled it down, and the footlights came on and when the sun finally bedded down out of sight, a strange deep silence fell over them, they say this experience never left them, they felt born and reincarnated in their bodies as someone else not recognising themselves for days.  It is said the rise and fall of the sun in Kerala is one of the wonders of the world.
The students had also visited Swami Satyananda (The Bihar School of Yoga is an internationally acclaimed school of Yoga founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati in 1964 to fulfill the instruction given by his Guru, Sri Swami Sivananda of propagating the ancient wisdom of yoga from door to door and from shore to shore. Situated on the banks of the Ganges, the campus of Bihar School of Yoga is known as Ganga Darshan, located at the top of hillock in the town of Munger in the Indian state of Bihar. Bihar School of Yoga imparts traditional yoga teachings to householders and sannyasins alike from across the globe.)

Also the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Ashram in Rishikesh, a Welsh Priest who had an Ashram on the East Coast, then Swami Sadchidananda (satchidananda Saraswati (December 22, 1914 – August 19, 2002), born as C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder, was an Indian religious teacher, spiritual master and yoga adept, who gained fame and following in the West during his time in New York. He was the author of many philosophical and spiritual books, including a popular illustrative book on Hatha Yoga. He is widely known in India as the spiritual guru of the Indian cinema superstar Rajinikanth. He also founded the international school Satchidananda Jothi Niketan located in )
There were a few others, during this time they were appalled at the poverty, also the hospitality of the village people. 
An humorous  aspect  was some village folk had not seen white folk, so the men peered curiously at the men when ablutions were going on as the women to the women, when they found their appendages were the same all was well. It was innocent like children examining themselves and curious about the opposite sex.
They were amused by the Fakirs and their 'magic' and the noise and monkeys, barking dogs in places drove them nuts at times.

Swami Satchidananda. 
A point that they all shared, that the driving of the Landrovers was hard, there was no synchromesh from first to second gear and no power steering, they had arms and torso's to be envied and tiring at first.

The journey continues to Bombay( now Mumbai) and to Satya Sai Baba's Ashram, where they met him and one had a slight altercation with him.



Satya Sai Baba

Then they drove up to Hyderabad where they followed a route across a Baluchistan desert back Pakistan and Afghanistan and then to Iran.

Hyderabad to Quetta and into Afghanistan.
At Quetta they went partially into Afghanistan and then South to Iran. Iran through to Turkey and then to Greece where they had a short holiday and site seeing, then back to England, via ship to Spain, from Spain through to France and then back to Dover.The Baluchistan Desert (The landscape of Balochistan is composed of barren, rugged mountains and fertile, but dry land. Most of the land is barren, particularly on the Iranian and Afghan side of the region, and it is generally sparsely populated. In the south (Makran) lies the desert.
Agriculture in this region is based on horticulture supported mostly by rain water. Cultivation is often located on alluvial fans, along river-courses, and in fertile areas which are maintained through artificial irrigation systems such as qanats (holes sunk in the ground to trap water) and gabarbands (low stone and earth mounds creating raised beds which become saturated by rainfall and water run-off from the surrounding hills). In the southern Makran and oasis region (south of the Chagai Hills) date palms are cultivated. Orange orchards are also typical in southern Balochistan, particularly in Jhalawan and Sara)
The students tell of crossing the Desert, they say there were only rough tracks and very sandy filled roads at best, they said as they entered the desert outside Hyderabad, there was a wooden sign post, like a hand, and they were advised to line up their compass's with it, then go to the rovers and take a reading and the the mid point reading was the direction.  They were told there was a diesel station midway, and it was set there by the Nairn Brothers, who were originally from New Zealand and set up the Damascus to Baghdad bus / caravan route. Anyway they found the station more like a dump, and were not sure if the Nairn's put it there or not. Small snakes, the bootlace snake, it looks like a bootlace made of leather and can camouflage itself, many a soldier in India in the occupation went to pick the bootlace up from the parade ground and got bitten they are very venomous. The students had them thrown up by the wheels on a part of the desert near Hyderabad
(There's an old maxim that says, if you want to succeed in business find a need and fill it. And that, in a nutshell, is the story of Gerald and Norman Nairn, the men who pioneered the famous bus route across the Syrian Desert - the Nairn Way.) 
There was a rumour that they were to set up another route which maybe they explored and left the dump, whereby others supplied the fuel.  This is but a synopsis of their journey, adventures and experiences.
In conclusion the students have only now given the scribe permission to share part of their adventures.  Their lives changed dramatically, some married, others parted, some have died by now, they feel in common that they were reborn, found themselves relatively speaking, and have disappeared into the mass of humanity. None of them have written their stories until the scribe took their notes which were sent to him by the remaining students and was told that he could recount their stories.
The honour fell to the scribe and this scribe is yours truly.  Geoff 


























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