May 18 - June 13, 2018
Peoplescape of Rishikesh
Location: Rishikesh (city), Uttarakhand (state), India
To begin with, what's an American baba (spiritual guru) doing in Rishikesh during pilgrim season when the whole city is awash by Indian Babas? If you can discern his Caucasian features, he would stand out amidst a sea of babas here in Rishikesh. Even before I was introduced to him, I was already curious after hearing Greg talk about this American Baba with 'good vibes'. I was finally introduced to him. He looked the look - beard, bunned-up hair, saffron clothing, lean saddu-built (religious ascetic), religious face-painting, beads, etc. He also talked the talk - loving kindness, compassion, etc. I expected all those things but I wanted to find out what makes him unique or different from the rest.
I messaged Baba Jay if we could meet for coffee. I'm glad he said yes. It was a conversation that lasted 3.5 hours at Cafe Shambala. We were later joined-in by 2 Indian muslim ladies, Nahida and Anmol, who added layers to the conversation. The conversation spanned many topics - Indian deities, history, geography, chakras, yoga, meditation, Shariat Act, Vipassana, etc. It was engaging as it was fascinating.
Baba Jay is animated as he himself spans a colorful life spectrum - from being down and out, pounding the gritty pavement of Hard Knox, working for an NGO helping kids at risk of gang violence, to being what he is now - a beacon of light to those in need of healing. Yes, it became clear to me he was an energetic healer - unblocking the nadis for a free-flow of prana, restoring the body back to balance. But he is more than that as he is well versed into meditation, yoga and psychic pursuits. Unlike the stereotypical gurus who utter 2 words to explain life (leaving you to fill-in the blanks), Baba Jay doesn't mince his words. He is transparent and extemporaneous about his ideas and life events that shaped him. He exudes transparency and good intentions. I did not sense any kind of spiritual entitlement he gives himself - it's like you're just having a buddy conversation over beer! He cited a few events where he took on the task nobody else wanted to do. Why? Because it had to be done - it wasn't about 'not being his job'. Hmmm....he walks the walk as well. I like that the most! If you can look the look, talk the talk but can't walk the walk, then you're just a poser.
Is he the real deal? Ha-ha, it would take more than 3.5 hours to answer that. But I enjoyed his company, learned from his insight and equally important, the skeptic in me didn't sense any red flag about him. I would welcome more moments with him.
Reader Comments:Romeo Mano
(June 14, 2018) Live and let live, Git
(June 11, 2018) ...forgot to say that we bumped into each other 3 times in different places! Awesome and om! Anyway, let's follow our travels and perhaps will coincide somewhere 🙂
(June 3, 2018) It is a pleasure to have met you Gigit 🙂
(June 2, 2018) Revenge is sweet, right? 🙂 My manners really are dreadful. Will try to keep it more on hold... Mission impossible. Have fun in Rishikesh! Love H
(June 2, 2018) Your manners are a refreshing departure from safe answers and political correctness. Love you just the way you are 🙂
(June 3, 2018) flatterer 🙂
(June 2, 2018) It is such a pleasure to know you. Nothing but love, my brother 🙏
Rishikesh (city), India
Travel Tips for Rishikesh
- During the cooler season when any of the hugely popular gurus or babas visit to give a satsang, eg. Prem Baba, Mooji Baba, all rooms are fully booked from Rishikesh to Hardiwar!
- short power outages frequently happen during the day
How to get to Rishikesh from New Delhi by bus
- Bus - take the Metro Yellow Line and get off at Kashmiri Gate. Exit the station from Gate 7 and enter the ISBT building - this is the bus terminal. Go down one flight and go to Platform 14. This is where you buy the bus ticket and board the bus. A/C bus, INR 454, 6 hours. You can take the 10:30pm bus and arrive 5am in Rishikesh.
scam alert! - over the ticket counter, the guy may verbally charge you INR 765 - this is usually the online price of the bus ticket. But I looked closely at the printed ticket, and found the price at INR 454. I demanded more change! The guy knew he's been discovered and gave me back the rest of the change.
You will arrive in Rishikesh at Adarsh Gram. To get to your hotel, travelers usually share a tuk-tuk (called Vikrams) for INR 10-20/passenger if shared. Since I arrived 5am, there was no one to share so I ended up paying a negotiated INR 150.
Travel Tips for India
- e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
- US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
- nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
- other travel destinations in India
- always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
India Blogs by TheLoneRider
- 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
- Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
- Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
- In Search of Tibetan Yoga (Yantra Yoga) June 25, 2018
- Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
- Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
- Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
- Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
- A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018
- 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
- Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
- A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018
- A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
- Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
- Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
- White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
- Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
- Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
- Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
- Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018
- India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018
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