It’s a hot (are there any other?) day in Rishikesh, the ‘yoga capital of the world’, where I’m attending a yoga retreat. It’s been a few days already and I’ve settled into a little routine. The 5 am meditation sessions combined with blistering heat mean that the time between lunch and the afternoon yoga practice are devoted to napping. But when my roommate Renee asks ‘Do you want to go see the Beatles ashram this afternoon?’, I jump out of bed, even though I don’t have a clue what the Beatles ashram may be.
Mount Entoto raises 3,200 m above sea level and offers spectacular views of Addis Ababa. On the way up, one can see elderly women and donkeys transporting dry wood from the forest down to the city, an image that probably hasn’t changed in centuries.
The mountain is where you can visit the palace of emperor Menelik II (the monarch who led his country to a renowned victory over an invading Italian army), a small museum and a few churches. The palace itself comes as a bit of a shock – it is in fact a modest white-washed hut, a far cry from what one would imagine as imperial lodgings.
It is Valentine’s Day 2016, 10 am. We are standing in the street of London’s Soho, waiting in the cold. All around us thousands of people are pointing their cameras at something about to emerge from around the corner.
First we hear it: drums, singing and some other unidentified instruments. And then we see it an open mouth of a giant golden and red dragon coming our way, carried on the shoulders of several people. All of a sudden everyone lining up on the pavement along the road pours to the street to take a closer look and snap a photo, ignoring the pleas of helpless security guards.