I am sitting in a restaurant in Varanasi called Brownie that serves organically produced food and specialises in cheese.
I feel like I have walked into a semi-heaven as there is electricity, Internet is on and off (but that’s okay as I can upload my words at Hotel Saurya when I get back).
I also just had a lovely lunch with a Greek salad, spinach pizza with green chilies
, the most nicest mango juice so far, lemon soda and ginger tea….I can smoke in here too and they are playing some wicked tunes too! Thank you Tony the Rickshaw walla for bringing me here
Been a while since I last blogged from Kathmandu…I spent so long sitting in Pilgrim’s Restaurant trying to upload my stuff and sort of missed the day exploring the city but I would not have met lovely boys Joe, UK and Tom from OZ traveling the planet.
So I have decided I will update my stories once in a while and reflect back on the days I have missed.
It is boiling hot today, I got out of the hotel and jumped into an auto i.e. rickshaw and by the time we got to Brownie, my laptop was overheating…but I am so happy to have this time with myself, quiet and away from everyone in this cool café in Varanasi…
They support a women’s initiative called “Ganga Women Empowerment Society” helping young girls (about 250) out of poverty with art, embroidery, handicrafts and painting…very cool!!
For the last seven days in Nepal, I have been traveling with four others using this tour company called Imaginative Traveller with a couple James from UK and his girlfriend Danielle from OZ. Emily, 19 from OZ too and Anna, 23 from Germany. I am the oldest…actually Surya (our driver was the oldest) then our wicked guide Tak Bir, 36 then me But we all share the spirit of adventure and I sometimes take off and go do my own thing. We found our harmony and I have been lucky as a woman from London cancelled at the last minute so I had my own room for the whole Nepal trip.
|Devendra, the waiter/student
Arrived in Varanasi knackered from our 9/10 hour journey, joined another group of seven mostly young chics and one dude from OZ. Had some beers with them last night and will be sharing a room with Siobhan, a 23 year old, half Iranian and half English chic just about to go to law school in LA, for the next ten days. Thought I would have issues sharing since I had freedom in Nepal but she has been wonderful so far…
Started the day at 4am with going to Kashi Karvat Temple (Lord Shiva).
Walked through the town where all the Karwaria (Shiva devotees mostly boys and men wearing orange and carrying Ganga water to different temples during this month) passing through all chanting “Bal Bam” – meaning “in Shiva’s name/ Talk Shiva” – chanting that gives them energy to keep going.
Started raining and we took cover in the temple somewhere where a lot of old people were sleeping and when I tried filming the situation, this dude gave me a natural toothbrush from the Neem tree…a very lovely gift!! Emily commented that she notices every where I go people are always giving me things…it’s true, she is right, mangoes, blessings, pens and now a toothbrush..it’s all love I think, I give, they give and we all share
We witnessed two cremations this morning at two Ghats (Marikarika – poor people’s cremation) and Harishchandra (electricity cremation), placed little a candle among flowers and sent it floating on the Ganga…learnt a lot about how cremations are done in India and that children under five, pregnant women, Sadhus, priests and snake bit victims are not cremated….just tied with rocks and placed in the Ganga. Our Temple guide said Sadhus are so powerful here that if someone has been bitten their body might be found by a Sadhu and they can be brought back as this death is not a certain one!!
|Tony the rickshaw walla (R)
Ganga is one special river, told that if I take some water back and after one year test it for bacteria it will be as clean as rain water even though the whole of India floats in this river, dead bodies and all…Amazing!!
Our Indian guide is a young dude called Harish or Singh who is also a journalist and worked at the Times of India
with a lot of knowledge. He will help me trace my roots back to Gujarat (on the west coast) where my ancestors settled after migrating here from Iran/Persia. My mother’s heritage is Parsi and Harish says they have no caste system. They settled in Gujarat after getting permission from the King at that time. Many migrated to Africa with the British to build the railway from Kenya to Uganda.
Today has been a chillout day, writing, washing clothes, talking to my loved ones all spread around the world and now I am here with Devendra, a student and also a waiter at Brownies restaurant and he is helping me with all the correct lingo and names of places.
Tomorrow we depart at 5:30pm on the overnight train to Jodhpur but not after visiting Sarnath, the place where Buddha gave his first sermon to five people back in the day!! And maybe also visit the silk factory and watch the tradition of weaving that has been passed down for many generations.