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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 13 Bodhgaya

I woke up early and got to the temple grounds around 6:00 am.  Bodhgaya is also one the four most sacred Buddhist cities because it is here where Siddhartha Gautama found enlightenment, reaching Nirvana and became the Buddha.  As I was walking around I met some young Indian Buddhists.  They showed me around the temple.  I hope they were legit and not scamming me, but the one kid knew his stuff and seemed like a good soul.

After the temple, I met another kid on the way to pick up my bag from one hotel to bring to the other (tonight’s room has a shared bathroom, the first time for that experience).  Anyway, this kid said he was studying and this and that and said he had a friend who could take us on a Rickshaw to the caves and couple other places.  I said okay.  It was worth the trip just to see the villages (grass and mud houses), but the cave was very interesting also and was up a long stairway that had a good view of the city.  However, there were so many beggars and they had people selling small coins (100 rupees for 50 rupees worth of coins - make sense right? Lol) and some crackers.  I didn’t want to buy anything, but I bought some crackers to give to the children and old people.  Then a guy who wanted me to buy his coins put it in my hand and wouldn’t take it back - this is a trick they use - well I gave it to the other guy selling coins and then he wanted money for the coins.  There was no way I was giving him anything and we just took off.  That is the thing with these hawkers, they are rude and you can’t just say “No” even if you say it a hundred times and very forcefully and they still won’t stop.  It is just annoying and exhausting that you just ignore them.  This is my biggest pet peeve about India.  The people are always trying to sell you something and they won’t go away when you say “No”.  It just becomes exhausting arguing with them.  I think that they just assume that we are foreign that we have lots of money and will just pay them to go away.  This is something that I will never get used to and one reason why I can’t wait to leave India.  Also, the pollution and dust has taken its toll on my lungs.

Just an example, the kid that showed me around and had the friend to take me to the cave and other place that had a school and the school wanted money.  I couldn’t and didn’t give a donation and then after the kid took me around to some of the temples and offered to bring me home to meet his family for dinner wanted me to pay for 2 years of his schooling.  I told him I didn’t have any money and that I was still paying for my schooling.

Then as I was walking to the main temple to go meditate, I met this little kid who wanted to sell me some map.  I declined,  then he followed me all over and asked me to buy him a kit kat.  I thought he wanted the candy bar and said okay, well he wanted a cricket stick. Then he said he wanted some holi (sp) that would be good for his mind, soul, and well being, only 146 rupees he told me - again I declined.  So after about an hour of him hanging around,  he said he was hungry and could he have 30 rupees (.60 cents) so I gave him 30 rupees.  I would have rather not because it just breeds begging, but he did look hungry and was a good kid.  After giving him the 30 rupees I showed him I only had 20 rupees left and that he was richer than me.  He just laughed.

Bodhgaya was a very peaceful place inside the temple grounds, especially at night with the chanting and all the monks meditating.  It was a good place to try and clear my head.

I  have hired a driver, through a travel agency, to bring me to Rajgir, Nalanda, Kusinagar (another of the four sacred Buddha cities - where he died) and to the Indian/Nepal border where I will get a taxi to Lumbini (another of the four sacred Buddha cities - where he was born).  They are picking me up at 8:00 am tomorrow and I should be in Nepal in about 3.   I’m not sure if I will follow my plans or just go to Kathmandu (10 hour bus ride/30 minute plane ride) or go to Pokhara and then Kathmandu.  I will see once I reach Nepal.

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