Varanasi was the first city we visited in India. It was my first time in India, and although Sejin had been to India a few times before, it was her first time in Varanasi. It's hard to describe in words what the experience is like, but hopefully the pictures will help. Please click through to see the other pictures from this land.
When we first arrived in the northern part of India from Nepal, I noticed that it was basically a flat version of Nepal. There wasn't that many people, and it wasn't the chaos I was originally expecting. Of course this was a relatively remote part of India, and the scenery changed quickly to the over-crowded reality as we arrived in Gorakhpur.
The only real function of Gorakhpur, as far as I could see, was a train connection. We were going to stay in Gorakhpur overnight and take the first train out to Varanasi. As you can see from the photo below, a lot of people pass through this station. If you look carefully, it's hard to spot anyone not looking directly at me. I think if I knew this at the time that I took the photo, I may never have taken it, haha.
Don't worry, he's just taking a nap. 15-minute jet lag. (The time difference between India and Nepal is 15 minutes...)
Sejin had a few things to say about Varanasi:
Incredible !ndia, that was the motto of the nation, for tourism. Yes, it is incredibly strange for me to visit there more than four times even though I don't enjoy being there every single minute. That must be my karma. India is 15 times bigger than South Korea but unlike the assumption of the grand space, it has 1.2 billion people living in it. For me, the nation is not disguised as a land of spiritual guidance or land of yogi. When I stepped down for the first time from Delhi International Air Port in 2003, the reality of this land and people shattered the image of cosmeticized India. But as I said, the reason why I can't resist coming back to this land again and again is because I'm addicted to finding undiscovered truth in it. If you can see the 'undiscovered truth' through the pictures you see now, please share it with us.
Monkeys and cows are everywhere...
Unlike the night scene of Varanasi's busy uptown (with cars, horns, rickshaws, vendors, hotel yellers, etc.), its morning is as peaceful as water with no ripples. I tried to go out in the morning to skip the hot mid-day sun-laser. Certainly Sebastien and I learned how needy we were compared to the people of India. Because we needed ice water and air conditioning every two hours.
Varanasi is portrayed as an essential area for spiritual enlightenment because it embraces the Ganges River in which they burn people's dead bodies. If you have enough money to buy wood to burn your whole body, you are a lucky man. If you don't, your body may not completely burn and some parts will be left to float on the water for a while. My university professor had seen people begging for money from tourists to get more wood, but nowadays I've only met people who wants to bamboozle the price of a puja (worship) candle. Yes, things are much more capitalistic than courteous. In my eyes, an Indian man on a single boat is as philosophical as a man who holds a baguette and a pen. Things can be interpreted in thousands of ways with travellers' eyes.
Sleeping in an alley with just a rag on your shoulder is not a shame in India.
One of the items on my bucket list was accomplished with Sebastien. But, I shattered the filter on his 50mm lens, when I dropped his spare camera on the asphalt on this trip. At that moment, I thought the world was shattered with the filter but when you can't use a camera, don't worry, your eyes will engrave all the memories in your heart.
So that's that. I hope you enjoyed these many photos from this very interesting city in India!
As always, if you would like to see the other photos from this trip, please see the album posted on Facebook. Take care for now!Sub