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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 25.282, 82.9563
The incredible India, unbelievable India, everything is possible India : All advertising slogans that attempt to describe this continent of infinite variety.
With a brief visit to the evocative temples of Kujaraho we then flew to our last adventure which was very appropriately in Varanassi, the holy town with a long history on the Ganges to which Hindu, Jain and Buddhist pilgrims travel to bathe in the waters, take water away in elegant bowls and plastic buckets and when sick come here to die and be cremated on its banks, where their Ashes then travel down the river to the sea.
Fortunately our hotel looked out onto the Ghats, the Western shore where all the action happened. Unfortunately there were heavy downpours both mornings we were there so we missed the sunrise, but we heard the Ragas played and I joined the public yoga session for an hour from 6.30, a lone European among many Indian visitors. We were rowed down river, slowly, as the sun finally emerged in the afternoon, and at close hand watched the range of activities mixing in close proximity. Dead bodies, wrapped in orange rested on the steps until the fire was built, fires were lit
with corpses half hidden in their centre, bathers, more men than women, dipped repeatedly in the river a few yards away and changed in and out of their clothes, including women pleating yards of sari fabric around them.
As night fell the elaborate puja (purification ceremony) began, paid for by a family alongside us who were blessed in return for their contribution.Music and chanting blared out from the speakers and flood lights dazzled us while three Brahmins conducted the ceremony.
A driver nicknamed 20Kg because he was so slim drove us to and from Varanassi airport and out to the Buddhist pilgimage site of Sarnath, where Buddha preached his first sermon.
Temporary respite from the dirt and squalor of the crowded streets was provided by a western style cafe within a textile shop providing another browsing opportunity, and a modern vegetarian (again! Lots of Panzer, curd Cheese) Cafe for supper, where we were lucky to get apple juice, beer in disguise, wrapped around by serviettes, given that few places have a license.
Then finally the end of the adventures. On the way to the airport Peter was led off into a side street to make a last minute techy purchase, only to be
found at that price in incredible India, leading markets in technology, and then struggled to pay for it because bank connections and ATMS don't work efficiently, along with so many other essential aspects of daily life.
An uneventful flight to Delhi took us to a boring Ibis hotel for the night, where we were relieved to find our suitcases had been left by Manohar, our reliable long term driver, who transported them to Delhi when he dropped us off at Khajuraho airport, 3 days ago.
With only a few hitches on our travels and series of exciting adventures, we arrived safely at Heathrow, after a privileged flight in club class, as a result of Peters careful management of bank cards.
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