More than once people have told me that Delhi is nothing but the worst part of India. I did find many nice things in Delhi but the more I get to see of India the more I am understanding the opinions about the smoky capitol. The insane amount of cars that makes Delhi’s air visible in unimaginable in Varanasi. The city lays at the Ganges and is destination of many Hindu pilgrims and Indian tourists. And of course many foreign tourists as well. I never liked nor understood those white people that dress a lot more native than any Indian. Isn’t it funny how much they try to emerge in India whilst the country tries so hard to align to western standards. I never wore Indian cloth. (Apart from that one time I had a scarf wrapped around my head until I realized what I had become.)

 

The Sides of the River

Finally at the steps of the Ganges….

A video posted by Andreas Finzel (@andreasfinzel) on

Varanasi is all about the Ganges. Most people are Hindu, some Muslims and only few Sikhs and foreigners. Every evening they celebrate a prayer at the riverside and while I stood and watched in wonder some small hand reaches all the way to my forehead to press a red dot in my face. I honestly first thought it may be part of the religious ceremony.  That was a beginners mistake. It took me way too long to realize that that boy was just looking for another 10 Rupee. One more time me realizing that I don’t really know more about India than all the tourists that are here for a few weeks only. Following the river you get to the side where the Hindus burn their bodies next to the river. A mesmerizing sight at dusk. It takes only three hours for a body to vanish almost completely.  And in between the fires and mourning families there is always one or two cows eating flowers.

burningbodies

 

I let myself be convinced that fish was no problem. That was the second time I thought I am better capable of India than the Tourists. And I realized it the moment I puked next to the holy river and the holy men hushed me away to spend that day in bed. It is generally advisable to plan one “sick day” or even better one “sick day” per traveler, unless you manage to coordinate that. We didn’t. India is and remains a constant challenge. Many of the tourist come here to find their inner self and explore their hidden parts. Trust me, that works.

 

The Ganges is source of lifepraying-in-the-ganges

Most people come here to take a bath in the Ganges. Swimming in that holy river will clear you from your sins but you want to take a shower afterwards to clear you from this water. Because the come to the river to pray, but although to piss or to say Goodbye to what remained from grandma. The Ganges is the source of live and it certainly is as messy and wonderful as any live. They stand in the water, wash in it, they take it home for ceremonies all around the year and they even use it to make holy bread. I still hope that nobody drinks it. The next day we took over to the other side where you can walk and ride over the sandbanks. Those kids tried to sell me horse riding so I asked to juggle on the beautiful animal instead.  Later I found a nice clay jar laying in the water and it took me too long to understand that it was somebody’s last rest. Throwing the jar back in the holy waters I was certain that I know nothing about India and the Ganges.

 

Soudtrack of my life: Hillsong – Oceans