Monday, February 21, 2005

Varnassi - Old Skool

I don't know if I have ever seen a place that better exemplifies Socrates' famous truism..."...there is no school, like the old school..." just arrived this afternoon and so far I think Varnassi is rad! Everything looks ancient, with winding alleyways leading back into this crowded old city. By far the oldest seeming place I have been.

My two days in Kolkata were relaxing as everything seemed so normal compared to my first visit. Sundar's brother in law got married the day before we arrived so I went to his Father-in-law's place for lunch to meet all the relatives. I couldn't speak to them, but I could tell I was being discussed in detail for a good 15mins while I sat there drinking my tea and being! I was also invited to the wedding dinner that night - which was delicious!

The train ride was pretty standard and I met a cool guy named Ajoy on the train. He is doing grad studies in the US and just visiting his old prof at the University here.

I was a bit concerned about dealing with the touts when I arrived as I had read about how aggressive they were here in numerous places. So I called ahead and booked a room down by the ghats. When we arrived in Varnassi a couple touts velcroed onto us, but we told them to piss off and just walked out of the station to the first major intersection and grabbed a bicycle rickshaw down to the ghats. From there I walked along the Ganges until I saw my hotel. Nobody hassled me at all. I don't know why, but I just don't seem to be experiencing a lot of the hassles people write about in guidebooks & travel stories. I don't know if it is me or if they are just exagerating to make things sound more interesting???

I am staying at Ajay's guest house which is situated right next to Rana Ghat. It boasts a 2 story terrace restaurant with fantastic views of the river and the ghats below. It also has a nice flat area for yoga - so I was sold! The room I got is nice, but I have been promised that I will get a room with a balcony facing the river tomorrow - that should be wicked. Even better - they have a nice selection of books to read so I won't have to spend my $$$ on books. At the rate I read that can be expensive.

I chatted with a couple India gentlemen who were from Kolkata and were happy to inform me wow most excellent Bengali people were and how high my caste was.

I took a walk along the ghats and found a cheap cyber cafe with a fast connection - yeah! That is like finding a jug of ambrosia - nectar of the

Well I am off to explore a bit and track down some dinner. I have only got 11 days here in Varnassi - I better get on with it...=-)

BTW - my return flight to LAX has been confirmed for 8 March 05. I was a bit disappointed to learn my lay over in Singapore was only 3hrs - oh well you can't have everything...=-) Tacos - here I come.


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