The idea of catching up on detailed Varanasi stories is now most probably, officially, toast. We’re already a day into Jaipur, a couple of flights away.
We hit Varanasi hard, it’s hot and after both the heat and the famous freneticism there’s not much energy left for luxuries like blogging. Sleep, food and short after lunch naps are the priority.
The area of intensity in Varanasi is quite small, just 7 kms by 1.5 kms. The idea is to explore all of that. There may be places in Africa, perhaps Cairo, with occasional patches of similar intensity, but it’s unlikely. So far in my travels it’s unique for unrelenting sensory input. The core story, a 4000 year occupation, the heart and soul of Hinduism, Mother Ganges, the 8000 temple deities in walls, on corners, the shit, the cows, the colour, the living, the dead and the dying. There’s nothing like it and IMO is a must visit, twice probably, maybe spaced a couple of weeks apart. I’ve found that the places I’ve loved were much more rewarding the second time.
G was fantastic. I was concerned that she’d find the heat too much to deal with and the mandatory complete immersion overwhelming. But no, not at all. She loved it and even thrived on it. It was so satisfying that it worked out this way.
Maybe we’ll catch up after G goes back to Vancouver in a week, but like catching up on Kazaranga, it’s a long shot.
After the video below, I was instructed to move beside her, camera off, and the Brahmin priest came in from an outside courtyard and G was surrounded, in this small space by 6 men, chanting at maximum volume, that Shiva would give her a good life, for 15 long minutes. It was a privilege for her and an extraordinary experience.
The initial blessing to Shiva before the ceremony started
Here’s another one of a 17 year old village girl applying her henna
And taking a selfie in the village women’s day room