Wednesday, May 5, 2010


After breakfast this morning, I was on a mission to get a camera. About an hour and a half later, this mission was accomplished, and now there will be photographic evidence of my exploits. Anyways, Varanasi is one big maze of a town. There are a few main streets, and simply finding these from out of the labyrinth of alleyways is a challenge. After a few hours, however, I have started to catch on to where certain things are, and navigation has become pretty enjoyable. The most interesting thing I saw today was easily the cremations- unlike ANYTHING you can see back home. I was buying a paan last night (paan is a little back of betel and sweeteners wrapped in a leaf, I eat them after meals), and while the guy was making it, a funeral procession walked past. I turned around to see a corpse being carried by on a bamboo stretcher- I was the only one to do a double take obviously. This town sees 200-300 cremations per day, it really is no big deal to the locals. At the site I was lectured by a guide on cremation ceremony, history, etc. The guide claimed to work at a hospice right by the ghat where poor people come to die- this really is of utmost significance to the Hindu faith. Photos of these ceremonies are forbidden for obvious reasons. After watching these proceedings for a while, I decided to wander and book my next train. Many people try to sell you things here or lure you into shops (mainly silk or oils), but I've also had many whispered proposals for "good hashish". Usually these guys don't give you trouble, but one guy kept following me today. After about 5 or 6 denied requests, I told him to "chello", which basically means get out of here, in a slightly rude way. He took offense at this, but got the message. My next move as it stands is further northeast- to Siliguri by train on Friday. It's a 16 hour journey but I don't mind- it's the last step before the real Himalayas! From Siliguri I am immediately going to Darjeeling, which is a famous hill station. I found a restaurant today that offers daily Indian Classical Music concerts- so I think I'll attend that. I actually played a Sitar today- it was similar to the guitar but is in many ways very different. Either way, it's a beautiful instrument. Tomorrow I am going to check out the spot where Budha gave his first sermon. That oughta be a trip in itself. That's all I have right now,



  1. And meanwhile back in Victoria the UVic bunnies continue to dominate the news............ ho hum..........
    Nick, my jaw dropped this morning reading your blog. It wakes me up and gets my day started in such a positive way, its like coffee, and this morning a strong one with lots of caffeine in it! What you are seeing and experiencing is just incredible.
    Silguri is described as being at the foot of the Himalayas, in Bengal. Another amazing adventure ahead. And you finally got to play the Sitar, good for you!!

  2. You are such a visual writer. It is like reading a travel documentary. Did you ever think of becoming a documentary film maker - get to travel the world to exotic places and document it?? You have the ability for sure.
    Interesting food you are eating. Don't go wandering around alone in Bengal - tigers! Stay with a tour guide.
    I can see now why Aunty Jean was so enthralled with her tour of India.
    Grama R.