Varanassi Part V – Last Day in Varanassi
November 16, 2009 is the actual day of these events
Woke up early but it is raining and although I am awake, there is no way I am going out in the rain…perhaps later it will clear up for our day’s outing. As you can see above, dawn, even on a rainy day, is quite beautiful to behold in varanassi along the Ganga. And even on this rainy day, there are “boat people” out for the views!
Apparently however, I was not meant to experience sunrise in Varanassi as this is our last morning here. But I am content. And this is just another confirmation for me of my acceptance with joy and gratitude of ALL experiences, as they are!
I sit and watch the dawning day, seeing a few early morning puja lamps still afloat
Enjoying the quiet of the new day, when –
to my great surprise and wonder – while watching the early morning boat parade – SUNRISE!
So the day began better than anticipated after seeing the rain. We had made arrangements to meet with relatives of R’s friends in rishikesh who live in Varanassi. We had arranged to meet them at 10:30 in the morning and were planning to go silk shopping, stroll the alleys of the old city and then go to see some temples with them. In the meantime, R was already out and we agreed to meet for breakfast at 9:30, which we did.
We met these lovely people at the guesthouse and then began following them, by foot, in the rain, to a local
silk merchant who they had brought along with them…a “friend of the family” who just happened to have a shop. It was less stressful for me than being alone (I hate shopping in general, anywhere in the world), but it was still exhausting for me. I did however buy a beautiful silk and Kashmir wool shawl for a good price and am really enjoying it…
As finished in the shop in began pouring in earnest, but I was so tired by that time (as I mentioned – I am NOT the ideal tourist and this was the third day of running around for me and just too much for me), so I decided not to continue the days plans with them and to return to the guesthouse to rest. Thankfully the daughter of the family walked me part way back towards the main ghat or I never would have found my way out of the back alleys, especially in the rain where I had to watch each step to keep from slipping on muck or falling into a hole etc…I found my way back alone through the main street of the Main Ghat…soooooooooooooo dirty and swlippery – really not nice – my friend continued her site seeing but I’ve gone well past my own personal “tourist quota” and I accept that and happy to be able to relax the rest of the day and start to assimilate my experience.
Bought some fruit for us for the journey back tomorrow. Will be a whole day and nite without proper food and no fixings for sandwiches was I able to find. Especially in the rain – could not stroll around comfortably – Hotel will try and arrange for someone to fix us paranthas in the morning but we are leaving before 7 so it will be hard if not impossible. (to our great surprise and pleasure – we were able to order food on the train for a nice late lunch –!).
TRAIN TRIP HOME NEXT DAY
Walking up to our waiting rickshaw in the rain and slime and slippery streets was not the best way to begin the day, but the guesthouse sent two guys with us to help with our bags at least and make sure we get a rickshaw at a proper price. Then driving through Varanassi in the open rickshaw with rain falling and wind blowing into the open rickshaw – us with our shawls and clothing already wet from the walk up.
We arrived early to the train station – R was just like me in this respect – we preferred waiting at the station than getting there late and having to rush to find our train and platform etc. We found, again to our surprise, a clean and nice fast food place at the station where we could warm up and sit down and have something lite to eat or drink. Bought some snacks for the train and I ordered a toast and butter sandwich to take with me. We found our train platform after going up and down stairs to the platform only to be told it was moving to another platform! But a very nice Indian suggested, like him and his family, we just hop on the train before it begins moving and then when it gets to the next platform, just get off and move to our 2AC carriage. So for about 15 minutes I experienced true Indian sleeper class! Glad I’ve never actually traveled this way!
When we got to our carriage, we had the whole thing to ourselves from 8 AM until 4 PM when we reached Lucknow and the train filled up. I had my choice of lovely seats, slept some, even had lunch ordered at one station to be delivered at the next – spicey as all hell and I devoured it happily.
Viewing unchanging landscape for hours – primitive farming same as hundres, thousands of years ago – wheat harvest apparently – watched women threshing the wheat by thrashing it on beds of slatted like screens which let the kernels fall through to the ground below. And then we watched winnowing where a long pieces of cloth held between two women, like you might swing a jumprope, was swung around, acting as a fan and creating a breeze – while a third women poured the kernels into the breeze. Apparently the breeze blew away the chaff letting the kernels fall to a pile on the floor. I watched these two processes for hours, all along the way.
Most places were just mud huts or dwellings put together from sticks, sheets of black plastic, etc. But every once in awhile there were towns with proper built homes and obviously better off people – still farmers, but I also saw cows, goats, motorbikes and even one tractor could be seen. But very soon back to the most primitive of the primitive. Rural India is fascinating to drive through and see but it is obviously utterly impossible to move the mass of humanity any further into a better future without enormous resources, education and effort, which I understand the Indian government is either unable, or unwilling to provide. Despite all we see of “up and coming “ India, it is still only the smallest of the smallest % of the population.
When we arrived at lucknow and the train filled up, we waited expectantly to see who would be sharing the compartment with us, but the train was ready to pull out and no one had gotten in with us…strange but nice.
And then, just as it was pulling out of the station, 5 men got on and sat down opposite us! Immediately asked them (they spoke no English) in sign language and words, how there were 5 of them when there were only two berths. They just laughed and continued sitting there. The conductor came to check tickets and said something to them, didn’t check their tickets, and after checking ours, continued on his way. He was with the carriage steward who had been very sweet to us the whole journey so far. I left the compartment and went after them, and asked the conductor how it could be that 5 men were sitting where only two should be. Again, no real English, but the steward understood our discomfort and said they were getting off at the next station. The had come late and couldn’t’ get to the sleeper car all the way down the platform so had hopped onto the closest carriage which was of course first class.
I came back and explained this to R but we were not happy…and then the steward came, said something to them, and they all immediately got up and left to find seats elsewhere.
We were, needless to say, quite pleased. The rest of the journey was uneventful and we had to debark at 3:30 in the morning, and R was very stressed by this – remaining awake the whole nite. To my great surprise, I slept beautifully, woke up at 3, had time to brush my teeth, fix my hair and makeup and go to the toilet, and then get off with no hassle and no stress. So wonderful!
We found a prepaid taxi in Haridwar and by 4:30 I was already snug as a bug in a rug in my own bed in Rishikesh.
Hope you enjoyed a brief, very brief, glimpse into this journey…perhaps there will be others this trip – I don’t know but am open to anything which presents itself.