By the way, numerous cremations are taking place at the same time and this phenomenon is publicly visible 24 hours a day. At the burning ghat the other night, I felt it was so sad that these people need to be so tricky to get your money. A gentleman approached me, telling me how there are many fakes out there asking for donations after taking you to the "widows' house". They were even trying to sell me drugs at the cremation, HOW WRONG! This scam was also confirmed in a warning to us at our guesthouse, however during the cremation ceremony, the gentleman came over and told us we could not be standing where we were (falsely) and then asked for a donation from us HIMSELF! How could he possibly expect any money out of anyone after telling them about the scams and then doing the same thing! The essence of this event however, is used quite often in India, where someone will approach you and tell you about the scams, and talk to you for a while, asking what country you are from and other basic questions to "get to know you". Then, after convincing you that they are different than the rest, they will pull their works on you. This does not apply to all of course, but I have already seen it enough times to expect the worst, still always hoping for the best though! :) :)
About Arranged Marriages in India: Arranged marriages happen quite frequently here in India and in Hindi culture it is normal. I met a gentleman on one of the buses that I took who was getting married soon and invited me to the wedding! I asked if he had met the girl and he responded, "yes." The interesting thing however, is that he had only met her once, and for 30 minutes and apparently this is quite normal! They had a brief conversation about the type of family they each wanted, kids, etc. In this meeting was where either of the two had the opportunity to express not being ready for marriage, or reveal any relationship that he or she was in to the other. Apparently this is not acceptable to tell to the parents, but it can be discussed among the two soon-to-be newly weds. If either party was not ready for marriage, it would not take place, which is comforting. It is interesting the independent attitude of the West versus what I experienced there. It is a family (and not even the child's) decision here. I can see that the parents' opinion is important, and that they do have more experience. Here, they would see the child choosing their own marriage partner as selfish, whereas in our society I think that many of us would consider it selfish of our parents to try to decide who we should marry. Perhaps the independence attitude of Western countries is what contributes in large part to the higher divorce rate! I can see both styles, but overall choose the Western style as more comfortable and as making more sense to me (perhaps largely due to the fact that I grew up there!).
I have noticed that due to the filth of the streets and atmosphere I had stopped biting my nails! I clipped my finger nails for the first time in MY ENTIRE LIFE the other day....WOW! Strange isn't it? I know, but hey at least it has helped me to kick the habit! Also, the meditation and yoga have been helping me with this - staying mentally and physically healthy! I have been eating a bit healthier and have been overeating less -waiting a bit to see if I feel full rather than stuffing my face! Off to the Taj Mahal later today, more updates from Agra!