Yes, that Uttaranchal.
There's a lot I skipped over before, about our time in Punjab. Like being shown how to behave properly in a gurudwara, for one. But again I'm short on time. I'll have it all down pat by the end of the trip and discuss it when I'm home.
We've just come from Dehra Dun, Uttaranchal, where we stayed with yet another generous member of S's family's community. Again it was lovely. Uttaranchal is quickly catching up to Rajasthan and Punjab as my favourite Indian states (sorry, Delhi). Of course, that's all the ones we've been to so far. But at some point between the tucked-between-mountains-on-three-sides Ayurvedic Medical school and the life-in-your-hands, lump-in-your-throat bus ride up the cliffs to the Mussoorie hill station (a small town at a great altitude where people come to escape the heat in the summer), it's becoming clearer and clearer that wherever I settle down will have to be in a valley. Or on a mountain. I haven't been around hills of this size since New Zealand.
We're in Rishikesh now, taking our first look at the Ganges - which somehow, for some reason, totally lives up to expectations. We might take it easy today, since we've had a busy few days leading up to now. Either today or tomorrow we'll go to watch evening puja on the river, take a walk around town, who knows. We'll be between here and Haridwar for the next two days, until we take an overnight train to Delhi on the 2nd-3rd to go pick up my passport (woot!). Then we're going poking into Uttar Pradesh. Figure while we're here we might as well go look at this.
Needless to say, I'm pretty excited for the next two weeks or so. Back to Delhi (which, oddly, I'm looking forward to - although most of the Indians we've spoken to about it refer to it as things like "awful," "nightmarish," and "hell"), then Agra (for the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri as well as the Taj, which is getting and entire dawn-to-starlight day for itself), then Varanassi (of the famous ghats), then Khajuraho, then back across into southern Rajasthan for Udaipur and, hopefully, Pushkar.
In Patiala we were invited to a wedding on March 15 (I think I might have mistakenly told some people we were seeing one in February - we're not), so we'll be headed back up into Punjab for that in another two weeks. After the wedding we'll go down past Mumbai into Maharashtra, spend some time around Aurangabad (for the cave temples at Elora and Ajanta) and at the citadel in Daulatabad, and then down into Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala. The next few weeks are going to be just amazing.
Argh, internet time is up. I was going to link you photos to all of the above, but y'all know how to google image search. Go spend some time on wikipedia. We'll talk to you soon. Once again, wish you were here.