Varanasi - One crazy ride!

Varanasi Travel Blog

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In the Delhi airport, I met Katia from Russia.  She had just arrived late the previous night, and slept in the airport to catch the early morning flight to Varanasi.  Her plan was to find someone white, and have them assist her navigate her first few days in India.   I was white, so I sufficed.  Katia and I ended up roaming Varanassi together for a few days.



Varanais is everything I heard it was, and so much more...

I arrived at the Alka Hotel, and do to a slight glitch in translation
~ you know plane vs train, they gave a away my room because I was an
hour late, but were kind enough to put me up in a closet next door for
the night.  But I am back, and it is wonderful here.  They are kind
and helpful, and the food great.  Oh and one other bummer - the boat
drivers that row people up and down the Ganges at sunrise and sunset,
are on strike to avoid a Rs150 tax per customer.  So that is out of
the experience.  I wonder who brought these horrible Western ideas
like strikes to the East.  Oh well...

Unfortunately, it is impossible to describe Varanasi, but....
Varanasi is a maze of twisted and tangled narrow alleys, lined with
shops, stuffed with memorabilia, and there is an everpresent buzz of
merchants, horns, bells, and chanting.

 Walking the streets is a bit
like walking through a cornfield, but no one seems to have any concept
of personal space, so it doesn't much matter.  The Ghats are a blaze
of color, saris and turbans, children, people bathing, bodies
burning, yellow flowers and white candles floating, and of course, the
unmanned row boats lifelessly oblivious to it all.  I have been
incredibly fortunate with luck here, as I have managed to step in
lucky cow poop at least once every day - everyone says its good luck!
The cows are everywhere, as are goats, dogs, monkeys (I held a 2 baby
monkeys today), chickens, and water-buffalo.

Everyone is trying to sell you something, men selling massages (a
running theme I guess), children selling puja candles and other
knickknacks, Sadhus.  And the stage whispering shout,  "Hey want
some Hash, Six hour full power!"

I went to the Golden Temple which was fascinating, and overwhelmingly
swarming with Indians making puja, more bells, military officials,
rifles, flowers, monkeys, chanting, people on top of people, and sweet
oil burning before every alter.

I managed to find a fantastic Ashtanga teacher who is presently
kicking my butt.  I see him every day from 8 to 10.  Then breakfast,
then wandering the streets and the Ghats, or venturing out to
Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon on the middle path.

Varanasi truly is as rich and colorful as any part of India I have yet
seen.  It is a perpetual celebration of life and death, and seems to
represent the struggle inherent in each as well.  As with much of my
India experience ~ it represents the drastic extremes in its beauty
and devastation.


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