Varanasi 2010

Nothing can stop me from leaving for a vacation I've been waiting for a year! Not even a canceled flight, an endless line (close to my departure time) and the thickest fog an airport has ever seen!
We were supposed to fly through Istambul and then to New Delhi from my hometown (Rome), but the airport in the Turkish capital was closed because of an unusual fog. Only Alitalia (and that's the funny part!) could save everyone from being killed by myself!! But still, between us and the tickets there was the longest line I've ever seen at a check in desk. Careless of everything, I just jumped in fron of everyone and 15 minutes later I came out of the crowed with my trophy and started cheering with Elena. Our holiday was safe...we thought!
Once we arrived in Istambul it was just like hell! The airport had been closed the whole morning, and all the flights were late or canceled...and outside the fog was going up and up. No monitor would tell us where and if our flight was gonna take off from, and everyone was just dazed and confused (How do you like this Led Zeppelin quote!?!?!). All we could do was hanging out, eating at this unpersonalized restaurants every airport has, and every once in a while check for any news.
After hrs waiting, and hrs being on line to get on the plain (just check the pictures, how many people were just goin' off), we finally got on! Cool dude...we're leaving!!! Not even man!!! 4 more hrs on board with no air conditioning and no clue whether we where gonna take off or not, since the fog was so thick outside! The situation was pushing us to the limit, and my girlfriend and I were close to a nervous breakdown.
I was prepared to die, I wanted to give a chance to our vacation to happen...we had to take off!!! Even with the captain blind (for the fog outside) and his hands tied on his back. But finally...the engines did roll!!!

But it wasn't over jet!!!
We had to go from the international terminal to the domestic one to go catch another flight...provided by the low cost (but high quality service!!!) airline company Spice Jet.
And there he was!!! My dear friend Muk, waitng for us outside the Varanasi airport. Smiling as usual, he took care of us right away, telling our driver to stop at a kiosk along the road to get a beer and refresh ourselves a bit before going to the guest house. It was afternoon by the time he dropped us where the car couldn't just keep goin' and shipped the two of us in the hands of a rickshaw driver. Danny boy, Elena and our luggage...the skinny dude was gonna sweat his ass off for a K at least, for a bunch of coins...just worthless for us but incredibly important for him.
The "Gampati GUest House" is just lovely! Within an ancient building, you get to stay for low amount of money (we spent 10 euros for a room...I'm sure you can find cheaper accomodations in India, but this was super worth it) in a super cozy, colorful, wooden room, facing the Ganga river and enjoying the sunrise from it's balcony. And once you're hungry, just go up some steps and you'll get to an amazing terrace, heated by the warm indian sun, where you can enjoy your meal while boats are crossing the river, or some monkeys are jumping from one roof to the other.
Once outside the guest's just India! An incredible amount of people, at anytime of the day, getting busy, chilin' out, trying to sell you almost everything, honking the horn, stuck in the traffic. It's like hell on earth! The streets are just terribly dirty and crowded, there's a awful smell everywhere, and you gotta be careful not to step on a cow shit or something nasty.
At first, this could all just seam crazy and senseless, but once you get into the mood, you make all these inputs your and look at everything from a different angle...that's when you start being amazed.
The banks of the river are full of life, with colors catching your attention at any corner. The streets surrounding that area just look terrible and dangerous, but don't miss the opportunity to take a walk in those alleys, cauze you'll miss the experience of your life. That is where you get the closest you can to the indian culture, lifestyle, and attitude towards their social condition.
The "Sanscrit University" and "BHU", are the two many schools in town. The first one is inside a wonderful and peaceful site, where ancient building coming from the english colonnization have been turned into classrooms and cultural melting pots. There's an amazing laboratory you might be able to visit, where an old man with his assistants work 24/7 to produce Ayurveda oils and tablets using the ingredients nature gives them from the botanic garden right across the street. Everything is boiled and steered for hrs in a huge pan...the tradition, incredible rural tools, and knowledge do the rest.
Varanasi is all this and way more (try to visit all the temples they have if you can!!! The monkey temple is something you can't miss though!), but no words or images can truly represent what your eyes might be able to see or run into. I wish I will be able to go back there again and again, to finally catch the deep essence of such a different culture.

3 commenti:

  1. is the girl in your picture a friend, or your mom, or what?

  2. she's actually my girlfriend, but as you would do with old cars...I'm gonna change her soon!

  3. And if you're the one I suppose you are (my girlfriend), maybe at your age your nick name should be super diaper...