Freedom Cafe


Dinner time, and I want my final Rishikesh meal to include views of the Ganga mother. To the Freedom Cafe I go, passing starving calf on the way to find her with her momma, happily eating and affectioning. Phewf.

Below me, the river begins to glow while priests prepare the evening puja ceremony.




Brit–pronounced Bricht–invites me to join her under the palapa roof, and I do so happily. She is also a recent Israeli military school graduate, and we shoot the bull on all things Israeli life, conflict, and being far from home.


Like me, she’s surprised to find herself missing home culture, especially since now is Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and she’s so far away. Despite having all the Isreali culture a girl can want here–especially since she’s wrapping up the so-called hummus tour in northern India–she’s fiending for Jerusalem.

Brit tells me that she finds it curious what has and hasn’t been developed–like, everyone has cell phones but no one has toilet paper. Even though I’m starting to become used to the whole left hand=bottom wiping thing, I agree that a little bit of TP goes a long way, both in a girl’s happiness and in well, other things.

We talk of the cultural differences and of how being here is humbling for her and for people who come from cultures that tend to believe they are better than everyone else. I tell her that I’ve been shocked to find myself with declining patience, especially when it comes to photo taking.

There was an incident earlier in the day when coming back from Mr. Astrologer, I had 10 or so teen boys ask for photos while we were crossing the bridge. I happily obliged twice, posing with their respective groups, but then they each wanted one and wouldn’t leave me alone, trying to get sneak pics, and causing quite a stir. I wanted to turn around and tell them that I wasn’t a (insert curse word) circus monkey and that they shouldn’t behave like ignoramus, but well instead, I stayed silent and got away from them as quickly as possible.

And, then, we talk a out whether it’s really that something is lacking here, per se, or is it just that our cultural biases and personal needs are being revealed to us in this oh-so-diffent way of being. We talk of how here, there is a strong sense of duty and family and responsibility and fate, but how through our lens, it sometimes feels like complacency.

Before I know it, we’re comparing Belgian politics with Israeli politics, both concluding that for our respective countries, there’s got to be a way for everyone to just get along, dammit. All of this over a repeat chocolate crepe, which this time, I know what to expect and eat it with gusto.

Turns out the world really is small–Brit hails from the Shames Makovsky clan from our very own, Denver, CO.

This entry was published on September 10, 2012 at 07:30. It’s filed under India and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Freedom Cafe

  1. The colors on the top picture are absolutely marvelous. It looks like a painting.

  2. I love the pictures !
    And one tends to miss what they have left behind. Longing for home is natural… The cultural differences are huge, people in India (esp from smaller cities) do not travel much and thus going back with a picture of someone ‘exotic’ adds a cap to their feather (It DOESNOT justify anything, just a pov), This will be easily spotted in religious places rather than somewhere like a goa …

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