After my fleeting trip to Nepal, I was happy to be back in the familiarity of India. I flew into Varanassi and was welcomed back almost instantly with temperatures soaring everyday into the 40's and a bout of food poisoning that took me days to recover. Oh, Incredible India! I met a great couple from New Zealand, and misery loves company so the 3 of us bonded over that lovely meal together that reaked havoc on our bodies.
Once I was back on my feet and feeling a little revived, Varanassi was really incredible. I was there for just over a week and was up for almost every sunrise at 5am, when the temperaures weren't as ferocious. Varanassi was one of my most anticipated destinations in India, and it was well worth the wait. It is over flowing with Indians all making pilgrimages from all around the country to visit Mother Ganga. Saying that though, as an outsider, that river is one hell of a cess pool. There are different ghats lined all along the western side of the river and its used for anything and everything. People mostly come to bathe in for its healing powers, but you will also find dead bodies being submerged and then burned at the edges, ashes left for the river, water bufalloes cooling off, locals brushing there teeth, doing dishes, kids swimming, laundry being done and flowers or candles being pushed off from boats to offer as puja to the gods. What a place. It is overflowing with culture.
Varanassi is also home to an insurmountable number of beggars and homeless children. In Hindu religion it is believed to increase your karma by giving them money. I'm all for good karma, but when they see white skin they also see money and I have been harrassed in this lovely mecca beyond what is comfortable. Id come home penniless if I were to give to them all. And so many are sick and disfigured, it is a tough sight to see, but so much a part of India.
On a happier note, just to add to the pulse of the city, Challu, the young gentleman working with his elders Mr. Raj and Mr. Chapatti who run the OM Guest House, had taken a little liking to me. Oh what fun. Western courtship is definately a little different from how its done over here. Challu had me on the back of his bike, flaunting his westerner to the whole city. He took me for the best lassi (amazing yoghurt drink I am addicted to) in all of India, and a few silk shops and even treated me out to a local joint for masala dosas for dinner (where I think I was the featured attraction of the evening) . It was fun mostly, though the constant professing of his love for me and his puppy dog eyes got a little tiresome by the end of the week. But sweet Challu showed me a side of Varanassi I wouldn't have seen without him, so I am not complaining.
After a week there, I was done and ready for a change of scene. So I booked a first class AC train to Delhi. This was my first AC train and well worth the investment of less than 20 bucks. One of the men in my car said it was the "rich mans train". It was a completely different experience of train travel, so civilised and easy.
Now, I have arrived in Delhi and come full circle from where I started my adventures in India.