The Beatles in Rishikesh
THE PHOTOS
JOHN'S GALLERY
PAUL'S GALLERY
GEORGE'S GALLERY
RINGO'S GALLERY
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MEETING THE BEATLES
The Maharishi's ashram, or spiritual retreat centre, sat on a small plateau among wooded hills about 150 ft above the Ganges River at the edge of the town of Rishikesh.
Some fifteen buildings nestled in among the teak, sissoo, and guava trees. A narrow dirt road ran from the front gate to the back of the ashram, and a barbed-wire fence surrounded the property, ensuring the ashram's privacy. Here and there along the road, thin, tall bamboo poles flew canary-yellow, triangular flags and behind a low chainlink fence, sat six long, white-washed bungalows, each with five or six double rooms.
Flowerbeds filled with large red hibiscus blossoms garlanded the ashram and several vegetable gardens, tended by a turbaned old gardener, supplied some of the fresh vegetables we ate. Peacocks inhabited the surrounding woods and occasionally one would wander onto the ashram grounds.
I was walking through the ashram one morning when I saw John, Paul, George and Ringo sitting with their partnersóCynthia Lennon, actress Jane Asher, Pattie Boyd Harrison and Maureen Starkeyóand Mal Evans at a long table by the edge of the cliff that overlooked the Ganges and Rishikesh. Somewhat nervously, I walked over. "May I join you?" I asked.
"Sure, mate," answered John. And Paul said, "Pull up a chair." I sat down, and didn't know what to say. As I looked around the table, I was surprised to hear a voice inside my head scream, "Eeek! It's the Beatles!" Straight away, another voice inside, very calm, said, "Hey. They're just people, like you."
At a pause in the conversation, John looked at me and said, "You're from the States, then?" "No, Canada," I responded. "Ah! One of the Colonies," he joked, and I said yes as we all laughed. "You're still worshipping Her Highness, then?" He was being playful and tart. Not personally, I quipped, "But we still have her on our money." "Lucky you," joked Ringo, and good-humoredly, Cynthia interceded: "Leave the chap alone, after all, he's just arrived." "No problem," I responded, and John came back with, "You see, mates, they still have a sense of humor in the Colonies!" and we laughed again.
Someone got up and said they were going to meditate. Within moments all were gone except Mal and me. I asked him if they were really as cool as they seemed. "Not always," he answered, "but pretty much."
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