Many travelers get lost here with the wandering sadhus, lost in the spirituality. A lot of it is real but there is also a lot of bullshit.
I hated not being able to trust anyone and being a woman alone in India. There were other travelers but if you didn't know them, you were still alone. It was not that I didn’t feel safe here. It was just harder than anything I had ever experienced. The constant harassment and begging was draining. No matter what, it filled me with guilt that I would carry until long after I returned home again.
I talked with some travelers who did a vippasana meditation retreat and had just finished. I decided to head there to be in total silence for ten days. I had never meditated a day in my life. I knew I would be challenged in a different way that I preferred at that time.
As exhausting as it was outside of Dharamsala, I was glad I left Buddhist Country because it was so easy. It would have given me an unrealistic vision of what India was like. It was not India there. It was a respite from all of the chaos which was much needed.
I took a break in Rishikesh where I walked along the ganga to the next little town. On my journey I passed vendors selling popcorn and chiclets, sadhus wearing bright orange gowns, women in sarees holding their childrens’ hands, and cows grazing on anything edible. I stopped and sat on the rocky shore of the ganga and read. It was finally quiet and peaceful.
A group of boys traveling to Rishikesh for a religious vacation with their families ran up to me. First a boy with a camera asked to have "a snap". I said, "Ok,” but it was not that simple. Suddenly a large group of 15 boys miraculously appeared. They crowded around me squeezing themselves into a tight clump beside and nearly on top of me. My peace was disrupted. The first boy who initially asked for a “snap” reached his arm around me and gestured for me to do the same. I ignored his request. Then he said, "Kiss please." I was overwhelmed by the complete destruction of the peace and solitude I had just experienced. I felt invaded in so many ways. Sometimes I could handle being the main tourist attraction in this country, but not anymore. All of these people appeared out of nowhere to demand more than I wanted to give. I stood up, immature in my reaction, and stormed off feeling completely frustrated. My hatred for this country ascended to an all-time high. I missed my home. This was seemingly small, but I could not take it anymore. The harassment was wearing on me. I was constantly stared at by everyone. I rarely met someone I could talk to.