Varanasi part four

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February 11th 2010
Published: March 22nd 2010
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11/2/10: Late last night Jacinta felt terrible until she was that sick that she ended up throwing up until there was nothing left in her stomach. This made her feel a whole lot better but even more confused about what sickness she may have, was it flu or stomach? We walked the ghats again in the morning until Jacinta had no energy left. We walked as far as the biggest burning ghat and were approached by a Indian man saying “no photos no photos of burning body” Of course everyone already knew this, it was just an excuse to start talking to you about the cremation process. They also say they are a fire man that helps burn the bodies or a volunteer that helps the elderly waiting to die in the towers directly behind the burning ghats. Either way this is a scam to try and get money from your wallet. It will end in you giving a donation to the elderly for firewood so they can be cremated on the banks. Any elderly that can’t afford firewood will be cremated in the electric crematorium so just remember any money you are handing over will be going straight into the back pocket of your scammer. If you would really like to help you can donate to Mother Teresa’s house of the destitute and dying located 5min from the burning ghats. So whatever you have heard from the Lonely Planet or other travel books I have it on very trustworthy local knowledge that all these donations are scams. I left Jacinta at the guest house so I could gather some medication and supplies for our train trip the next morning. Walking back through the alley way I tried to confirm some local knowledge with a Varanasi lady but had picked someone that couldn’t understand English very well. Just when I was about to give up a little voice appeared out from the window above and she asked if I would like to know the truth about the scams on the ghats. I said yes straight away and she was kind enough to invite me up into her home. I was welcomed like a family member and instantly felt like I was in my own home. Her name was Neha, a late teenager early twenties girl that lived with her Mum (Rashni) and her father (Arun). I was invited to sit down straight away and was offered sweets and something to drink. At first I wasn’t sure how to take all this as it was almost to kind especially in Varanasi but my mind was giving me a warm feeling and I knew that this was real hospitality. Neha showed me some of their house that dated back almost 300 hundred years. They also had a room that can be rented out for 3000rs/month. Neha’s father Arun is the oldest Photographer in Varanasi and did well for himself shooting weddings, functions and general photography. I was impressed by some of his work that had a real Indian flare to his style. Neha’s mum Rashmi was an educated house wife that had plans to make her home into a guest house and also do some silk trading on the side. We talked for at least an hour before realising that Jacinta would start to worry about where I was. So I had to say goodbye until I could bring Jacinta back to carry on our conversation but not before I had to have another home cooked sweet for the 30sec journey to our guesthouse. I rushed back not believing what had just happened and luckily Jacinta had recovered some strength and was able to come back to meet the family. By the time we had got back the house had a full clean from top to bottom and it wasn't even dirty to begin with, I laughed and told them that the house was fine. I introduced Jacinta to the family and immediately were offered some more yummy sweets and a hot chi tea. We ended up talking about most things like Varanasi scams, India, being sick from travelling, marriage, family, weather etc until the question was raised about our transport to Mumbai and which train we were taking. We showed Neha our ticket and she was shocked when we were only travelling sleeper class. She explained that even they don't travel this class as it was too dirty and crowded. Neha was on the phone in a flash to try and upgrade the tickets, an earlier attempt to change the tickets to different destination failed for us but Neha gave it her best shot ringing several people but had no success because our ticket could not be cancelled. We thanked her for trying for us and she later admitted that she tried hard because she wanted us to stay with them for a night, we were hoping for the same thing and defiantly would have excepted the offer. Time flew as we talked for 3-4 hours and before long we had dinner severed in our lap, it was rice done with Indian spices and peas. It was nice and light and with my stomach trying to make more room from all the cakes, sweets and chi that was offered I only just squeezed it all in. We ended up talking about silk saris and how there are so many scammers around Varanasi that say their silk is 100% but is not. Neha and Jacinta disappeared in the next room for a little while and when Jacinta emerged 5min later Neha dressed Jacinta in a beautiful sari with makeup, lipstick, bindi, jewellery and a little red dash high on her forehead indicating that she was married and unavailable. They even put some toe rings on her feet that were a gift for Jacinta to keep, she looked and felt so pretty and you couldn’t wipe the big smile from her face. All good things had to come to an end and we had to say goodbye so we could pack our bags for the train tomorrow. I also had to get back as I had been feeling that I needed a toilet for some time. I made the wrong decision and stopped my antibiotics early. This proved to be the worst thing I could have done for my gut problems and I ended spending all night on the toilet again also frustrated because I just couldn’t sleep in this condition. Every time I went it was like I was pissing out water from my arse until finally returning back to bed to only have to get straight back up as soon as my head hit the pillow. Any sleep I did get only resulted in having an accident which caused more frustrations than the lack of sleep. This continued the whole night until I was totally dehydrated and waisted.

14/2/10: The next morning we were up early to have our last walk along the ghats and to witness the start of the festival. There were thousands of people washing in the Ganges water and even more India tourist coming in by tour buses for the festival. We only walked 200m before I felt too weak to continue and turned back to our guesthouse to get ready to leave for our invitation to breakfast at Nehas. Breakfast was traditional with a wheat roti, mango chutney, poppadom, some sort of dried chip and all washed down with yummy chi tea. I managed to eat more than I thought with my tight stomach and it gave me some energy to at least function. It was raining hard outside and the festival would be a washout so with our train leaving soon we had to say our goodbyes to Neha and Rushmi and catch a tuk tuk to the train station. The ride in the tuk tuk was interesting revealing how poor the drainage system was or lack of it. There was mud, rubbish, sewerage and water everywhere and we picked a really good day to leave Varanasi. Our train was late by half an hour and with no one speaking English it was hard to know if we were getting on the right train or not as there is no signs and notice boards. On the way to the platform I carried a plastic bag full of fruit and snacks, as I walked along the platform amongst hundreds of people I felt a someone try to snatch my bag. In a slit second I yelled as load as I could “HEY” turning around to confront my thief with a fist. There was no one there except for a monkey that had a handful of my plastic bag trying to tear the bottom out. I let go with a flying kick to boot the monkey between the trains missing him by a good foot, he was just too nimble for me but he only got away with a bit of plastic. If he was successful there would have been food strewn all over the station with a dozen monkeys ready to pounce from the girders above. We managed to find a New Zealander that was getting on the same train as us and confirmed that we were indeed on the right train. We got on to find that there were twice as many people in our seats then should be and with the language barrier being a problem I got upset when we had nowhere to sit. They got the hint and half the family moved back to their seats. It was going to be a long train ride and hopefully we wouldn’t have to put up with a terrorist attack on our train.

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