All my life I’ve had a terrible pattern of falling in love with the wrong people, people that weren’t a good match for me. In the beginning of the relationship I’m overcome with a sudden burst of intense chemistry, and then I spend years, or even decades, trying to make it work. Now I realize that I did the same thing with Rishikesh India. At first I was attracted to her picturesque beauty, exotic charm, clean air, and the mighty Mother Ganga. But like any new relationship, the once rose colored glasses have turned dark. Now that the new relationship energy is over, I’ve begun to see obvious red-flags that I missed before.
I came back to Rishikesh for one main reason, to decide if I wanted to move here. All of the yoga, spiritual classes, Ayurveda, and recreation are very alluring. Plus, it’s cheap here, really cheap! I could probably live in Rishikesh comfortably on $500 a month. Unfortunately I’ve decided that inexpensive living is not enough for me. After a month in Rishikesh the clear answer is no. I can’t live here. These are the reasons why my love affair with Rishikesh, India is over.
The first time I came to Rishikesh, in early 2016, I cried tears of joy when I saw the brilliant blue sky. Keep in mind that I had just left New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities on the planet. I hadn’t seen a shade of blue in the sky for months. The pollution in Delhi was so bad that on most days I could stare directly at the sun because it appeared blurry and orange through the grey dense smog. Rishikesh is in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains and she looked shiny and new to me compared to Delhi, a good 7 hour drive away.
This time I arrived in Rishikesh just a few days before Diwali and the sky was already hazy. Every morning I walked by little fires in the village where the Indian people were burning their toxic trash that included an alarming amount of plastic. Then, on the night of Diwali, the night sky was filled with fireworks. The next ten days the sky was obviously polluted in Rishikesh. There was a sad white haze in the air. I could taste the familiar poison on my tongue, and it stung my eyes and hurt my lungs. Many Indians told me it was just low clouds, but I knew better. It’s been a month now and the sky is finally clear again, but it made me realize something. The air quality in Rishikesh will only get worse until the Indian people decide to do something about it, and I won’t live somewhere with poor air quality. I did it for a year in Delhi, and I’ve never been so sick and depressed in my life.
I Have Trust Issues
Just like any new relationship, when the trust is gone the relationship is usually over, and it’s the same thing with Rishikesh. What I have come to realize is that most people here only want two things from me, my money or sex, and most Indian men want both. I will always be seen as a tourist in India, and tourist are only good for one thing, and that is money. However, white female tourist are seen as a real prize and come with an additional bonus of potential sex. It’s true, I could get laid all day long here from young frustrated Indian men if I wanted to, but I’m not interested. They’ve watched so much American television and movies that they think us white women are easy prey. Maybe we are compared to Indian women that are expected to be virgins until they’re married. Regardless of the reasons, I can’t live somewhere where I can’t trust half of the population.
The last major issue I have with Rishikesh is the garbage problem. Of course, it’s not just Rishikesh with this problem. Most of India is littered with piles of garbage along the roadside, in vacant lots, and along the riverbanks. Every time I see it my heart aches for our planet. I don’t understand how they can turn a blind eye to such a big problem. Along with all the trash comes flies and rodents. The fly problem is so bad now that I can barely mediate outside because I always have flies crawling over me causing a distraction.
There are still many things I like about Rishikesh. Sitting beside the turquoise waters of the Ganga River has brought me a lot of peace, and Rishikesh has brought me a lot of joy too. It’s filled with great memories of a man I once loved, and it is where I learned yoga for the very first time. I’ve made great friends and have grown as a person, but I still couldn’t live here. I know that many foreigner’s often do move to Rishikesh, but unfortunately it’s not the right place for me to live.