The Holy City
Trip Start Jun 28, 2009
33Trip End Aug 07, 2009
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Where I stayed
So I'm really having the "India" experience- right off the train we encountered a small classroom's worth of dirty, skinny kids begging and collecting bottles at the train station. By the way, there's nothing like the Varanasi train station- cows were sleeping in the waiting area when we arrived! In town the ubiquitous cows block traffic on the dirt roads and even the narrowest alleys . Actually, we hadn't seen too much of India's infamous freely roaming cows until we got to this holy place. I checked my e-mail driectly after arriving yesterday- I was at an "interent stall" where only a canopy hungover four or five computers (which were otherwise totally exposed to the internet). I enjoyed this magical moment of reading over an e-mail from my husband and looking up to watch a cow eat garbage in the street.
The scene here is fantastic- plenty of Westerners walking around- which means plenty of internet cafes (none too high tech), telephones, shops, and small restaurants. However, the look is perfectly Indian- you can't spit and not hit some-hole-in-the-wall (literally) temple. The ghats are amazing to behold, and people are bathing and enjoying the river (the guide said people use the water only for sacred purposes, but I have plenty of photographic evidence showing serious "cannonball" action)
I'm also getting to know locals here- which is practically a first after nearly a month in India. Many children work on commission for shops around town attracting shoppers- I know they just want me to come in their shops (and I do), but in exchange I get to interact with them and hear their stories. One 10-year old in particular speaks English far too well- he is a smooth operator when it comes to luring tourists. It's heartbreaking, but it's such a nice break from shuttling around other cities isolated in our bus or walled off in a super fancy hotel compound at night. More to come when I get time (happily, however, I'm much busier here and distracted from my internet addiction).