4-Minute Coffee with Uncle Reggie: An exotic riverside venture
(Jun Ju/Dixia Yang 翻譯)

A fascinatingly complex land… India is a land of thousands of religions, considered to be the most religious country in the world. It’s often said that everyone in India has a religion, though not necessarily the same one.

一个令人着迷而又复杂的国度… 在印度数千种宗教并存,它是世界上宗教最多元化的国家。关于印度的宗教信仰,人们常说,印度每个人都有着宗教信仰,却往往不见得是同一个。

I’ve been to India only three times, but walking about India is really like seeing scenes from news documentaries. Masses and masses of people, and literally thousands of temples of all shapes and sizes, with depictions of gods of different shapes and animals, all living together in brilliant multi-colored cacophony.

我只去过印度三次。 在我的印象中,走在印度目之所及就象是在看新闻记录片里的场景,那熙熙攘攘,人流攒动的景象,还有那成千上万,各式各样,大大小小,雕刻着各种神像和动物的寺庙,所有这一切都交织在一起,绚丽多彩,纷乱嘈杂。

Even elephants show up at the River Ganges. From YouTube movie: Xuan Zang (2016), A monk’s journey from China to India to acquire sacred Buddhist scriptures.

Respect for others… Growing up, I was taught there should be basic freedom of religion everywhere, and I should respect others’ religions and traditions. Plus, I have always been very curious about knowing how people think and believe. A trip to India gave me a special unexpected perspective.

尊重他人… 在我的成长过程中,我被教导每个地方都应该有宗教自由,我也应该尊重他人的宗教和传统。再加上我一直很想了解人们的思想和信仰,游历印度为我增添了一个特别而又出乎意料的视角。

A unique surprise pilgrimage… One evening in the town of Lucknow, where I was giving a medical lecture, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. To go with two good friends who were also physician-scientists on a little pilgrimage they were going to take. Which they had spontaneously decided upon, just minutes earlier.

一次独特而又惊喜的朝圣… 有一天我在卢克瑙市作医学讲座。天赐良机, 当晚我被邀去参加两位好朋友计划的一次小小的朝圣之旅。这两位朋友也是医生兼科学家。而且,这次朝圣之行也是他们几分钟前突发奇想决定的。

The surprise was also that they welcomed me, a committed Christ-believer, to come along. I literally jumped at this really “exotic opportunity”. Indeed, never again would I have such an opportunity. Indeed, “opportunity only knocks once”.

令人惊讶的是,他们欢迎我这个认真的基督信仰者跟他们一同前往。我立刻欣然接受了这个“异乎寻常的机遇”。我确信我再也不会有这样的机会了。的确, “机会只来一次”。

The Great River, the Mother River.

Midnight all-night run… It was already late at night, after 11:00 p.m., when we started the trip. An all-night journey before we got to the river, the Holy River, the Mother River, the River Ganges. Sacred to all Hindus.

漏夜赶路… 当我们开始出发时,已经是晚上11点以后了。我们经过了一整晚才到达我们的目的地,那就是圣河/母亲河/恒河。对所有印度教徒来说,这条河是神圣的。

Exotic Ramayana stories… In line with the occasion and probably to keep us all awake, one of my friends began to tell epic stories about the monkey king from the Hindu Ramayana scriptures. The stories surely sounded exotic and uncannily appropriate for the midnight journey. We were well prepared for the Great River!

异域风情的《摩婆罗多》故事… 为了应情应景并且让我们不犯困,其中一位朋友开始讲述《摩诃婆罗多》和印度教里其他圣典中史诗般的故事。这些故事听起来确实非常有异国情调,非常适合午夜的旅行。伟大的恒河,我们来了!

Crack of dawn… We were supposed to arrive around 6:00 a.m. at the break of dawn. Early enough in the day, before the city masses awoke, the best time of the day…

黎明破晓… 我们原计划在黎明破晓时到达,大概是早上6点左右。那时,整个城市还未苏醒,是一天中最好的时刻……

Weaving car in dark of night… To add to the excitement, sometimes the taxicab driver would doze off (it was the middle of the night!). The only available light was from streetlights, so it wasn’t very bright! Since I was sitting behind the driver, it was “my job” to shake him periodically as he wandered off the road, which he did numerous times. At least four times, as I remember!

车在黑暗中穿梭… 更令人感到”刺激”的是有时出租车司机会边开车边打瞌睡(毕竟是深夜!)。一路上只有路灯亮着,路况也不是很明朗!因为我坐在司机后面,所以“我的任务”是在我们的车偏离道路时不断地把司机摇醒。我记得我们的车至少偏离道路了四次!

It wasn’t an expressway… For sure, the road was small, often unpaved, rough and bumpy, with many ruts and holes, so he wasn’t driving that fast, maybe 25-30 miles an hour. We were more likely to have a car wreck than any fatality… Which was sort of reassuring.

这可不是高速公路… 毫无疑问,道路很窄,很多地方的路都还没铺,一路上崎岖不平,坑坑洼洼,所以司机开得不是很快,大概每小时25-30英里。令人宽心的是, 在这种情况下,若出事的话车子很有可能受损,却不太会有人员伤亡…

“Welcome party” at strategic location.

Extra clean socks… But once we arrived at the edge of the river town of Banaras, I was so thankful for my extra pair of socks, which somehow I had brought along. Because we were on holy ground, we had to take off our shoes, to walk on little muddy paths sloping down to the riverside. My socks became predictably wet and muddy. I’m sure glad I had clean socks to change into for the car ride back!

备用的干净袜子… 等我们抵达了恒河畔的瓦拉纳西时,我庆幸自己带了一双备用袜子。因为我们置身于神圣之地,所以我们必须脱掉鞋子。走在通往河边的泥泞小路上,我的袜子也不出所料地变得又湿又脏。我感激自己有先见之明,让我有干净的备用袜子可以在返回的途中更换!

“Welcome team” lineup… Since there would be lots of sincere pilgrim visitors, I’m sure the path down to the river was a strategic place to solicit. There was a long lineup of biblical-like beggars, and even people who looked like they might have biblical-time leprosy, squatting by the roadside, in white cloth, including many in white bandages. It was truly a scene out of the movies. Many sad outreaching hands in search of comforting coins.

“欢迎团队”的阵容… 因为许多虔诚朝圣者的来来往往,让通往河边的路小成为行乞要道。沿路有一长队像是圣经中的乞丐,甚至有些人看起来可能患有类似圣经时代的麻风病,蹲在路边,裹着白布,其中许多人还缠着白色绷带。这个场景完全就像是电影中的一幕。许多人伸出乞讨之手,希望有人施舍硬币。

Guru hunt… When we got into the holy town, the first order of business was to find a bona fide guru for an official blessing. Our friends looked around and looked around, and sure enough found some basement steps that led down to an advertised and presumably credentialed guru’s home/office. I peeked down the stairs and could see that in the room inside was a real guru…

寻找大师… 当我们进入这座神圣城市时,首要任务是寻找一位正宗的大师(guru),以获得正式的祝福。我们的朋友四处寻找,终于发现了一个通往地下室的台阶。据广告宣传,顺阶而下,就可以走到一位享有声誉的大师家/办公室。我偷偷瞄了一眼楼梯,看到里面的房间里坐着一位真正的大师…

His hair was all disheveled, he was naked except for his classic white loincloth, and he was lean and wiry, all just like in the movies. It was more than dramatic for me.


My eyes were wide open. I thought of taking a photo, but I thought maybe it might not be appropriate: the scene is however photo-captured distinctly in my mind. Another guru didn’t seem to mind my taking his photo. (See photo below.)


Another available guru of blessing.

River floaters… My friends having been officially blessed, we proceeded to the river’s edge. And here, just as in the stories and movies, there were things floating by that I was told were some kind of dead animals.

河上的漂浮物… 等我的朋友们得到大师的祝福后,我们就去了河边。就像传说和电影中的一样,河中漂浮着一些物体。有人说那些可能是一些死去的动物。

There might well have been deceased humans floating by also, but I couldn’t be sure in the early morning mist. My friends told me that’s common also, from upstream funeral pyre rituals.

其中可能也不乏人的尸体在河中漂浮,但由于清晨薄雾弥漫,我不能确定。我的朋友告诉我,由于上游人们举行的火葬仪式, 河中出现人的尸身也司空见惯。

Scouting for a good spot… My friends were looking for a place to immerse themselves in the holy river, which was the whole purpose of coming. The river looked pretty murky with lots of “stuff” in it. I mumbled something like, “Maybe we should find something a bit cleaner.” My friends instantly agreed and asked around from the local people.

寻找一个好地点… 我的朋友们想找一个可以在圣河中沐浴的地方,这是他们此行的主要目的。河水看起来相当浑浊,还有许多“东西”漂浮其中。我嘟哝着说:“也许我们应该找一个更清洁一些的地方。”我的朋友们立刻同意了我的建议,并向当地居民打听。

The mid-river sand bar… And sure enough, some enterprising men popped up from the dawning landscape. They suggested we take a little boat to go over to the sandbar in the middle of the river. The river was flowing much faster there and it should be much cleaner.

河中央的沙洲… 果然,有几位看到商机的精明人士从初升的地平线上冒了出来,向我们走来。他们建议我们坐小船前往河中的沙洲。那里的河流水速要快得多,河水应该更清澈。

Floating petals, symbols of light and life.

The best 15-rupee expense… For 15 rupees (about 20 US cents), that was a bargain. So off we went to the sandbar, arriving to it in five minutes. The river indeed looked pretty clean and clear, at least in the darkness of the early morning, before the sun came up. As far as we could tell. And there were no dead floaters that we could see.

花得最合算的15卢比… 15卢比(约20美分)的价格,这实在是一笔划算的交易。所以我们欣然前往沙洲,5分钟后就抵达到那里。太阳还未升起,晨光黯淡,河水看起来也很清澈。至少我们没有看到任何漂浮的尸体。

Flower petals in river of life… My friends had bought pretty white flower petals with a mini-candle in the center. We floated these symbols of light and life into the river, and my two friends started to wade carefully into the dark water to take their ritual baths.

生命之河中的花瓣… 我的朋友们买了漂亮的白色花瓣,中间带着小蜡烛。我们将这些象征光明和生命的花瓣漂放到了河中,我的两位朋友也小心翼翼地走进幽暗的水中,开始了他们的沐浴仪式。

It was just amazingly peaceful and calm, as the early rays of the sun started to come up along the dark river. The river that would continue winding through the many towns strung along its sacred path, as it had done for thousands of years.


Seekers… We had done it! And I will never forget it. I had jumped into the exotic world of Hinduism-at-the-Ganges, in a complex country of many faiths. A memorable reminder that everyone, consciously or unconsciously, seeks some Final Good Destination.

寻觅者… 我们做到了!我永远铭记那一刻。在一个众多信仰交织的复杂国度里,在恒河边我亲身体会了印度教的异域风情。这令我难忘,也提醒我,我们每个人都在有意识或无意识地寻求着某种最终的美好目的地。