Varanasi part three

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February 10th 2010
Published: March 22nd 2010
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10/2/10: We took it very easy and went for another walk along the ghats. We ended up back at the Manikarnika burning ghat. It is the most powerful experience and I’m sure we will back again tomorrow to just sit and take everything in. It seems that only the men are allowed to be in the vicinity of the cremations and with the most riches of Indians being cremated right on the banks of the Ganges they have the most amounts of wood and decorations around them before being placed on the pile of timber by family members. Before this all happens the bodies are submerged in the Ganges River to be so called cleansed before cremation. Today was a very powerful day for us to watch as a family really were upset by the death of their father or mother. There was a lot of crying and whaling and I think this makes it more real than just seeing a body burn. It was the first time we saw any emotions during the cremation process and our only guess was there was a tremendous amount of morning going on before the final goodbye. We left the burning ghats by 1:00 and we were starting to get hungry because we missed breakfast. We had been trying to get to the IP mall since we got to Varanasi to stock up on the basics so we headed westerly direction from the Rom Ghat. We must have walked 1km through a tight maze of alleyways or Garlis and I was lucky enough to have my compass as you would of surely got lost without it and may end back where you first started. Apparently even the locals do not even know their way around every galis so we were happy when we finally popped out the other side. The traffic was incredible and it even got too hard to walk in some sections of the paved roadway. Jacinta’s energy level was on empty and was absolutely stuffed so we decided to get a rickshaw to do the hard work. I was lucky that most of the rickshaw drivers were negotiating the impossible traffic, and as on every other occasion as soon as I pull out the map I have at least three rickshaw drivers asking me where I want to go. Sometimes it’s hard when all you want to know is the name of the place. A lovely local lady asked where we were going she confirmed we were going in the right direction but said it was too far to walk. I asked how much for a rickshaw to the mall and she said 15-20rs. This sounded seriously cheap but we had to remember that we had been calibrating from tourist rates. So we tried to bargain for 20rs to see how we would go, the first rickshaw wanted 50rs and wouldn’t come down so we walked away and tried another. During the negotiations a smart dressed Indian man assisted us in making sure the next rickshaw driver understood our price and directions. I thanked him for the help and the rickshaw driver was happy with the 20rs. It took 30minutes to get to the mall by rickshaw and a hell of a lot of traffic in between. We got five minutes out from our destination when our rickshaw driver put on the best Bollywood performance I have seen from an Indian yet. He pretended to wipe the sweat from his forehead several times trying desperately to get my attention. Jacinta and I already agreed to give him some more rupees but with the act extending to blisters on his hand and cramps in his legs I got tired of the whole act very quickly. We hopped off and I gave him his 20rs plus 10rs for a tip. He wanted 100rs because it was so far and by this time I was sick of agreeing on a price then breaking the agreement and wanting more money so I slammed the money down on his seat and walked away. Everywhere we have travelled once an agreement is reached this is what is carried out but not in Varanasi, even after you feel better about giving more than the agreed price they will guilt you into paying more again. The mall ended up having nothing we required so we decided to try McDonalds, we at least stood a chance of not getting sick. I ordered a Maharaja Big Mac and Jacinta ordered the Paneer rap and it was good to get some food into us. Back to the main street by tuk tuk and once again the agreed price was broken again as the driver tried to keep an extra 10rs. Contacting our parents was way overdue so we found some internet and let them know what a rough ride we had in the last week with sickness and transport. Just as we walked out of our internet we came across the best street food I have seen yet in our little time in India. It was noodle, fried vegetables, egg and Indian spices all cooked on a massive hotplate. Jacinta wasn't going to have any but later caved as it looked really good when it was being cooked. Back to our guest house and it was time to do our daily chores of washing our cloths and heating up some water in a bucket to wash with. This was a half hour process as we only had a little element that is only intended to heat up one cup of water for coffee. It was so worth the half hour of mucking around just to have a hot wash in the very cool night air of Varanasi’s winter.

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22nd March 2010

oxford hotels are very pleasant place.

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