Lets just say that I am IN LOVE with Varanasi. My hotel/hostel is incredible (that's room in the above pictures). It doubles as a nonprofit that is focused on intra-cultural dialogue, and so far I have had many interesting political discussions with many many different people, all of whom seem to want to lecture me about what a bad president Bush was. DUH. YOU'RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR. Seriously though.
At breakfast, I met three Australians girls who were amazing. I spent the day with them wandering through the streets (very loosely used here) with them, which are no narrow that only two people can walk side-by-side comfortable, and all along the way there are shops selling food, sarees, silk, and statues. After about half an hour, I gave up trying to find my way around, which stinks because there were several places that I would like to go back to.
After about two hours of wandering, we stumbled across the best lassis in all of India. I'm not kidding. I had orange strawberry, and while we drank them we watched several funeral processions and bodies pass by on the way to the ghats. Varanasi is the city where Hindus come to die; men are wrapped in red and gold, women in orange and gold, and children in white and gold. Pregnant women and children under the age of five are not allowed to be burned; instead they are weighted down with rocks and put in the river.
It didn't really bother me, seeing all of the bodies. I actually thought it was kind of a good thing--to acknowledge death rather than to avoid it, to live with it everyday. I don't know. It was really really interesting.
Later that day, the girls left and I was VERY sad to see them go, but I quickly met another Norwegian girl, who is taking a gap year. We decided to go to the night ceremony, but I'm not sure either of us really understood what was going on.
The next morning we got up at 5:30, and took a boat ride at sunrise. It was BEAUTIFUL.
Our boat rower.
These are the burning ghats where they take the bodies.
More of the ghats.
On the sandbanks, opposite the ghats.
Possibly my favorite picture from the morning.
I have about three more full days here before I head over to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Kelsey!! I am so unbelievably excited!