India has been truly amazing so far. Unfortunately, I am unable to upload photos while I am in India because the wifi is too weak (WHEN it works!). Plus, I do not have very much free time and when I do, the last thing I really want to do is spend time on the computer. I will try to catch up when I arrive at my next destination later this month.
We took an overnight train ride to Varanasi (the holiest city in India) on Thursday – I unfortunately did not sleep at all. However, Varanasi was worth the traveling – it is an absolutely incredible city. I fell in love with it immediately. We attended the puja ceremony on our first evening in Varanasi and it was so much fun. We sat on the steps and eventually a cow wandered behind us – it peed everywhere so we had to move. It felt great to be sprayed with cow pee after a nice hot shower, let me tell you. It ended up becoming extremely overcrowded – but it was worth attending if only to interact with the Indian women and girls. They do not see very many Westerners in Varanasi so we got lots of attention and definitely got to practice our head bobble! Many Indian women asked to take a photo with us and the attention was great – something I will never forget. Indians are such gentle, genuinely kind people and I respect that greatly.
I got to see the burning ghat (Manikarnika Ghat – place of cremation) during both the day and night time and I have to say, I didn’t think that is something I would ever experience in my lifetime. It was a difficult but amazing thing to see, especially at night because it is so primitive – they don’t use any electricity in any way.
We went on a sunrise and a sunset boat ride on the Ganges River. The sunrise ride was beautiful and it was neat to watch the evening ceremony on the water during the sunset ride. I have a cold and lost my voice yesterday – the pollution has finally really gotten to me! I also have not been able to sleep at all for a few days. I think it’s a combination of delayed jet lag and overstimulation of all senses.
I spent a total of 3 ½ days in Varanasi which was very nice. I had a sweet lassi (traditional Indian yogurt drink – blend of yogurt, water, sugar and fruit) each day I was here at the Blue Lassi (Papaya Pomegranate Coconut is the way to go!!) because as they say: a lassi a day keeps the Delhi belly away!