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rglongpre’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008

Location: Varanasi, India

MapWe got up in the dark at 6:00 in order to get ready for our dawn boat ride on the Ganges. The light wasn’t the greatest but it was good enough for me to get a few decent photos. The river was quieter in the morning and the people seemed to be more serious in their religious activity. The dawn encouraged silence.

With the boat ride done and we were back on land, we took a small walking tour of the narrow lanes behind one of the burning ghats and learnt a bit more about the traditions of cremation. By 8:30 we were done with our tour guide and had the rest of our stay in Varanasi to ourselves. Our tour guide made our tours of yesterday and today good experiences. Though he was a young man, he was deeply religious and in his stories of his own family life, we saw that he followed respectfully and dutifully the path of his father. However, he did tell us that he hoped it would be different for hischildren. He had a daughter and wanted more for her, the more that seemed to be the promise of a modern world.

After a late breakfast we walked away from the bustle near the ghats both for a walk and to see what more there was to see in Varanasi. We ended up walking through a small Muslim area and passed wood mills (very small operations) and tiny butcher shops and a high school that was enjoying competitive games in their courtyard with rows of students standing on all the balconies lining each level around the courtyard. Though the area was more modern, it still seemed to be trapped in dirt and depression. The heaviness of religion's dominance coloured every scene.

Eventually we made it back to our hotel where we enjoyed a small lunch and then read our books – Maureen is reading Kite Runner and I am reading My Other Life, by Paul Theroux. We have been lucky to find these books in our guest house. For a diversion, I then spent some time going through some of the photos throwing out the bad ones, the repeats, the blurry ones and those that seemed almost meaningless. I still have too many photos and need to do some serious work trying to sort out what is actually worth keeping. Of course, some time spent doing this journal and then more reading – information overload requires some reflection time, some down time.