Published: December 21st 2011December 7th 2011
I’m in this amazing trip on the back of a Royal Enfield motorbike (Bullet) around India. We started in Mumbai on September the 9th
and our goal was to arrive in Orissa by December the 10th
to attend a wedding in Cuttack.
We rode north to Rajasthan; we spent one month in Himachal Pradesh; then we went to Utrakkhand and down to Agra, Orchha and Khajuraho on our way to Varanasi.
We arrived in this holy city on the 22nd
of November. It was my first visit and I was really looking forward to spending some time in this city which is loved by many people. Even though my first impression was “this is a mess”, after a couple of days I started feeling very comfortable, relaxed and welcome. We got into a small routine going to the ghats
in the morning, having chai
(maybe inviting some Baba
to join us), doing yoga on the roof terrace and making our own breakfast in our guesthouse room. Paul (my partner) caught up with some old friends who were very happy to meet me and we met some new people, all of whom were good to have some conversation or share a chai
Nitin, one of these friends, told us about the Bengali Restaurant, located in the backstreets close to the main ghats
. His first advice was about their banana lassi
which he thinks is the best in Varanasi! We decided to go and check it out.
The restaurant is quite small and, just with a quick look, you can see three different areas. First of all through a curtain door is the kitchen. After that the main part of the restaurant with 3 tables and chairs and at the back, more tables and chairs being used as a makeshift school.
Shanti and Ravi are the couple who own the restaurant. Shanti also works as a teacher in a government school and Ravi is a very good cook. Sometime ago they had a daughter who died when she was only 3 months old as a result of a serious disease. It was very painful for them and they decided not to have any other children but they fill this hole by providing extra tuition to local kids. Even though most of the kids go to the regular school, there are a few whose education only consists of
these lessons in the Bengali Restaurant. These lessons go for a couple of hours a day for 8 or 10 kids of different ages.
The makeshift school has been running for four years and, even when they had to close the restaurant for a year because they didn’t have a fridge, they kept going with the extra lessons for the children.
Every now and then some western people go there and help them doing some volunteer lessons or giving them some material. Also some people sponsor the education of some kids by giving some support money.
Every now and again the generosity and creativity of relatively poor people who want to make a difference jumps out and astounds me.
There are more photos below