I already experienced before this border crossing between Nepal and India through Gorakpur. Making my way among the noisy crowd of Nepalis and Indians in search of the police post where I can get a stamp. It was getting dark and I didn't want to spend the night in this dark place, so I took a a local bus, but this time for Varanasi . The popular city on the River Ganga that people can either love or remained disgusted with. I decided if I like it to stay a month here .
At 3 am after a 20- hour trip from Pokhara I finally arrived . There were no guest-houses open at this time of the night, so I decided to wait for the sun in a more central location. Varanasi is a maze of small streets along the Ganga, where cars and tuk-tuks do cannot go. Only cows , humans and dogs. To my surprise, some of the shops for religious items worked around the clock and even at 4:00 o'зlock in the morning the streets were full of pilgrims going with candles and flowers to the river. I had a little nap in front of one shop with my bag under my head and then I decided to watch the sunrise over the Ganges. I sat on the gath, where they burn the dead. Immediately one local guy come to speak to me and invited me to his shop , where it was "safe". His „Little Shop" was actually on the stairs over the river, where during the day they are selling flowers, incense and the like. Then came a boat with tourists who shouted : " Are you ok? Do you want to join our boat?" . A boat ride on the Ganges at dawn? Why not? Readily I agreed to the friendly proposal . They were a strange company of Belgian , German , British and Israelis . All they met on the way. They were worried about me alone with the luggage in the dark and they thought they "saved" me from the Indian guy. We were floating around the gaths while the sun was coming up and then we all moved into one guesthouse. I do not know how it happened , but the Belgian , a British and Germans walked with me and a friendly Indian - Raj took us up and down around the city – to the cheapest houses for sleeping , ashrams and babas. So we found ourselves in a surreal ROOF -TOP just above the gath where people were burning, just for 50 rupees per person (about 0,70 euro) . Breathing in the sweet smoke of burnt bodies, drinking lassi and watching the busy life along the Ganga . Full dose Varanasi ! Walking down along the river is full madness – everyone offering you a boat and everything else from charas to heroin, flowers and offerings. From time to time a singing procession passes, making their way through the narrow alleys people are singing and carrying a corpse on their shoulders. Amid all this craziness one person strongly invites us to prasad . I cannot refuse and I sit on the stairs of the river and eat the rice-dahl offered together with smiling Indians. The locals sincerely enjoy that I eat them. Next to us starts a fire ceremony with music that moves my senses. I take a basket with flowers and candles and let it on the Ganga as pour on my head some brown , smelly holy water from the river. Most foreigners do not even dare to touch her , but I believe that the appearance is often false. After all even babies bathe in the Ganges.
Kids are flying kites on the next roof-top , just above gath and where they burn the dead
Varanasi could be called the city of death. Everything is revolving around death. There is a belief that if you die here and burn in Ganga, you will be free from reincarnation. That's why Varanasi became one of the most popular cities to die in. There are entire buildings full of people waiting their turn. There were even volunteers who were taking care for the dying. Death lurks on every corner, travels along the narrow streets, carried in the air with a sweet smell. Like any major city in India the dirt and the smell is repelling and there was garbage and cow shit all over. Although the experience was interesting, I would not stay here a month, as I planned . Only on the first long day here, I had an ample dose of Varanasi. On the third day even I got sick and decided I had to make an emergency escape to the Himalayas , in the fresh air, small , clean and quiet villages , away from urbanization. So I headed to the Parvati valley and I dragged with me the Belgian , German, British , and a Finn , and they took even Raj – the friendly Indian from Varanasi , who did not separated from us from the beginning. Extremely strange company. The Belgian/English couple decided to take some airplanes (! ?) - one of their eccentric ideas. They wasted lots of money and arrived 2 days after us because went to the wrong road. They wanted everything here and now, no matter at what cost. In India , however, things are slow and want patience, no matter how much money you have . If you hurry you usually get there last.
So I had to travel with the 18 -year-old German girl who had no idea where we were going, Raj, who was travelling for the first time and although knowing the language anywhere outside Varanasi he couldn't manage to get around and the Finn guy , who did not give a fuck about anything. From the train to train, from station to station after a day and night journey, we finally arrived in the Mountain with a capital " M" - the Himalayas. Only now I realized this trip I spent more than 7 months in the Himalayas , in India and Nepal. And that's where I was going to spend the last month before I get home. My passport was full and my bank-account - empty and I had a ticket to Istanbul . Every day the date was approaching and this was giving me a strange tickling feeling in the stomach . Freedom is not so full when you have a deadline. The sense of unpredictability and uncertainty - too.
We went to the village of Tosh for my birthday . One of my strangest birthdays, becoming 31 . I was indifferent. Listening to music and silently watching the mountain. I did not happy and I was not sad. I was 29 when I left Bulgaria . Now I turned 31 ! Was I that 29 -year-old girl with a backpack and without any expectations, so naive , yet so happy. As if it was someone else.
We went to a village called Rashol for a few days and came across a village festival.
Peaceful and unremarkable Parvati. I did not want to know the date or time, but I could not stop time. Soon came the end of April and had to head to Delhi. I decided to make one last hitch-hiking. A truck picked me up in the back. I was holding on tight and still jumping with the backpack at the holes and rolling at the sharp turns left and right. I got all covered in dust . Looking back at the road - villages , temples, people, cyclists , forests , rivers... were appearing and leaving behind. As if the whole India was passing before my eyes, and disappearing in the distance. I smiled while I was crying.
|the festival in Rashol|
From the next town I took a night bus to Delhi. I met a friend from Switzerland rastaman and we traveled together. On the way we were stopped by police for passport control and they searched the Swiss guy and another girl with dreadlocks and forced them to open their luggage . Fortunately there were no problems and we continued undisturbed to Delhi. We arrived early in the morning , and my flight was at 4 AM next morning. I had all day and all night to hang around Delhi. The Swiss guy had a local friend, who came around and the evening continued with an unexpected Indian party. It was very interesting for me to see how young people in Delhi live. We visited two girls who were both sari- designers, something like " haute couture " for the saris . They lived together in a small , crowded with things flat and spoke English with a sweet Indian flavor between themselves. We went to "Ladies Nights" party at some club where they almost did not let us in because the girls were less than 26 years old. The party was 26 + and all drinks were free for women. Men , in contrast, had to pay $10 for a beer. Nightlife in Delhi was quite expensive and there certainly was no poor Indians inside . I drank as much as I could on the bar under the sounds of Nirvana , Beastie Boys and hits from the 90s. Then a long time I was trying to take a cab to the airport. Apparently I had not left enough rupees and then everyone wanted a double and a triple price . Finally we bargained a driver and my new Indian friends helped me with some rupees . I thank them sincerely for the help in this critical moment in my last Indian night.
After that crazy night in Delhi I could comfortably sleep on the plane. I look forward to see my family and Bulgaria . I fell asleep with a smile , thinking about the way that was coming. Because the journey continues and is full of surprises.