Disclaimer: For those of the Hindu religion may find this post offensive. I apologize for that, but I am simply writing what I have seen and felt here for the last 3 days. I concede that maybe if I stayed here a month I would feel and witness the spiritually of Varanasi, but I do not have that time and can only explain how I feel now. So read if you wish.
If Varanasi is not the beginning of the apocalypse then it certainly is the closest thing to hell. Maybe that is the point…"You must go through Hell to get to Heaven, or in this case to reach Nirvana."
The deceased being burnt at either end of the ghats 24 hours a day, 3 to 4 bodies at a time. Others bathing in the rancid water. So called holy men, clad in their orange loincloths, matty dreadlocks, white powered face and bodies, walking past making lude comments and gestures at me. Holy, my ass.
The is supposedly the most holy religious, spiritual place in India. I don't see it.
I see people only out for themselves. Where is the sense of community I felt in the Slums?
Everyone tries to rip you off. For example, I saw the very entertaining prayer ceremony performed every night (note: mostly by Nepalis immigrants). After which I was pressured by a women to take a floating flower and candle to the Ganga. I didn't want to because I didn't have small change to give her. But then I thought, ah, heck I'll just give a huge tip. When I did she wasn't at all grateful, instead she asked for double. Jerk! Later she rushed away from me so I wouldn't see how much and India person was paying.
The cutest kids are pimped out my their parents to sell postcards, and teenagers act as commission men to get me to their parents silk shops.
The narrow streets, at first reminiscent of Kathmandu, but at a closer look as far from Nepal as black is from white. They are covered with so much garbage and pooh, human and cow. Hundreds of dogs walk around on spindly legs barely able to carrying their skinny, ribcage protruding bodies around, while pet goats are clothed in polo shirts. Naked children, with distended tummies swim in the Ganga hungry, while over fed cows eat the flowers of the dead bodies.
I don't understand how a group of young french Canadians have been able to stay here for the last 2 weeks. Actually, I do how. They stay in their hotel drinking "special" banana lassies, playing their guitar, buying opium (it's good for sex, according to the dealers on the street), and quoting Anchor Man.
I should end on a bit of a positive note, because there have been some lovely people. Like the boy that taught us how to fly and fight kites. The dozens of young boys that have led me through the maze that is this city. Sure all the conversations end with "Come see my shop", but they are not sad when you say now. Varanasi is about Learning.