Friday, April 5, 2013

Intense India

Since I rambled on and on about Bhutan, I’ll keep it brief for Varanasi. In fact, I’ll sum it up in one word:


It is true what everyone says: nothing can prepare you for India. The few peaceful, luxurious days we spent in Bhutan did not help to lessen the shock. Varanasi is intense! The maze of narrow streets are clogged with people and animals and colours and noise and smells. People walking, people on bicycles, and somehow also on motorcycles, honking their way forward through the crowds, past stray dogs curled up underfoot in the middle of the street, somehow not getting stepped on, squeezing past massive cows eating piles of garbage, and leaving equally large piles of dung which is spread around from all those feet, wheels, and hoofs walking through it, creating so much more festering surface area for flies to languish. There is no denying the filth. And the noise! The noise is incredible! Talking, shouting, chanting, barking, mooing, clanging, sizzling, screeching, singing.

And that’s just the streets. These busy streets tumble down into the Ganges into equally bustling ghats. Bathing ghats, funerary ghats, laundry ghats. On the banks of the holy river, from before dawn, until well into the night, life is lived.

And above it all, majestic eagles and lime-green parakeets fly, dodging the kites that flutter and fly from rooftop terraces, across which, hoards of monkeys scamper and jump.

Varanasi is positively thrumming with life, and yet despite the overwhelming chaos, this place feels enormously sacred, and there is something utterly enchanting about it all.

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