It is now winter in Varanasi. Last night I was laying under a thin blanket, and woke up numb with cold and felt unwell. There has been little sun lately, and the stone houses here retain the coldness. The marble floor was ice cold when I took a shower to get some warmth, but today there is no hot water. The electricity disappears for hours during daytime in Varanasi – this is India, and one deal with things as they come.
I have gotten my own rickshaw man, Raj. He has the greatest eyes I have ever seen, and he knows Varanasi like the back of his hand. One can just as well use a man like him here, he shows up at the hotel in the morning, ready to show me more of this remarkable city at the river Ganges. There are labyrinths and small alleys and narrow streets everywhere. I would have spent a long time trying to find a system in the street network in Varanasi. The traffic situation in this holy city is the most intense I have ever experienced. Here the clearance is just a few millimetres and it looks completely chaotic, but the traffic flows like a Swiss clockwork. I have not seen an accident.
One meet people from all over the world when traveling in India, and one hears other stories than the stories the press feeds us. The last day in Pushkar I spoke with a Jewish woman from France. She had been on a fabulous journey in Iran. For over two months she had been traveling on her own across the country and only met positive and open minded people. She had feared that she would face trouble since she was Jewish, but on the contrary, they told her she had finally come home. She also had an unforgettable journey in Bangladesh. Dacca was a clean city in her opinion, more clean than the cities in India. Most of the things one hear about Iran and Bangladesh are bad things, but now I feel a desire to visit Iran and Bangladesh, maybe it will happen in the future.
On the train to Delhi I met a Mexican women who is a writer and editor of a cultural magazine. She was traveling alone, and was on her way to Delhi to catch a plane to Mexico after a three month long journey in India. I showed her the book Rrom-Gypsy travels, and told her I work for Gateavisa, the longest surviving underground newspaper in the world. We might get reports from Mexico in the future. She gave me a copy of the magazine she works for. It is written in Spanish, which is all Greek to me, but I felt that I would meet someone who could enjoy the magazine.
Yesterday a really good encounter took place. I was enjoying a glass of banana and orange juice on my favourite juice bar in Varanasi. A western young woman with a caste mark on her forehead and dressed in Indian clothes enter. She comes together with tho Indians. One of them wearing a beret, the other one was dressed in orange clothes, and was perhaps a baba, a holy man. We started talking, something that happens easily in India. She was married to the Indian in orange clothes, whose name is Shiva. The man with the beret was a journalist. Shiva and Seeta live at Kudle Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, which is south of Goa.
There things are like they were in Goa in the 70ies, the place is not found by many people yet. We were invited and could come anytime. Internet addresses were exchanged, and we are connected in cyberspace. Seeta had of course spent several years in Mexico, and read Spanish fluently, and she was very happy for the magazine. The world works, especially here in India, if one just follow the flow.
Seetaa and Shiva are in Varanasi to listen to Dalai Lama. He will be in Varanasi for about a week to held lectures. One of his favourite places is the Buddha temple which is built where Buddha had one of his visions for about 2500 years ago. Some months ago, a terrorist bomb exploded in Varanasi, a child died, a tourist got life-threatening injuries. Now there place is full of armed police. I feel safe in Varanasi.
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