Monday, January 2, 2012

An eventful 'unplanned' day

The only plan I had when I woke up this morning to was walk around this district, hire a car and driver for the afternoon to see the other parts of the city and call it a day. That's not how my day went.

I woke up early so headed to the lobby for some wifi time and to have a cup of coffee. That went well. Then I decided to grab the camera and head to the balcony and shoot some photos of the water buffalo walking by. No elephant today. Back at my room there were two house boys that do the cleaning standing there, I think on purpose and waiting to talk to me. I can't remember their names, Indian names can be very difficult to remember. One was 15 and the other 17. They were in complete amazement that a man of my age would be unmarried and without children. They just couldn't believe it. They asked all sorts of questions about where I live, America and so on.

Then the door man came up to tell me I had visitors in the lobby. It was Gopal (Deepak's brother) and his two sons Raman (20) and Pavan (30). They kidnapped me for the day. Gopal and Deepak's mother is my father's sister). The first stop was Gopal's house where I met his wife and their daughter Varsha and of course the three boys, Pavan, Gagan and Raman. Then I went next door and visited with Gopal's elder brother Ajay and his wife Karin.  I also met their youngest son Ravi and his wife Archana. It was an interesting visit with Ajay and his wife. They are in complete disbelief that I'm unmarried and have decided to make it their mission to find me a wife. Seriously. They're planning the wedding for December. A couple of notes. In the classified section of the news papers here you'll find the normal employment and for sale ads. But the Wife wanted and Husband wanted ads way out number all the other ads combined. I'm afraid to look in there tomorrow!! Indians like to ask if I am married, how many children I have, where I am from, how much money do I make, what do I do and so on. Their just very curious people and have no ill intentions with their questions.

After breakfast Pavan took me for a drive to the nearby village of Sharma where Buddha was born. It was a pretty neat place. Then Pavan asked what I wanted to do and I said just drive, so we did. We ended up driving through a small village (hundreds around Varanasi) and this is when I became distrought because when I was kidnapped from the hotel I didn't think about grabbing my camera, big mistake. This was my paradise. No tourists. Most of the homes in these smaller villages were made of mud. Lots of water buffalo. And lots of sow patties molded by hand into discs about a foot in diameter and laid out to dry. Stacks were everywhere. They're used for cooking fuel. Believe it or not they actually burn very clean, very hot and for a long time. Of course everyone stared at me in the car. Actually, we were the only car on the road for most of the afternoon. Very few people if any have personal cars here in the villages, they have instead bicycles, scooters and carts pulled by water buffalo. Many of the people here go into Varanasi to work each day returning in the evening with a day's wage of a few dollars. Throughout the ride Pavan asked once in a while about not having a wife. Finally he said that I must have lots of secrets and I told him that I have no secrets. If someone askes a questio Ill tell them the answer, and left it at that. He never asked, but I'm sure he figured it out. He's such a nice guy, actually the whole family is really nice.

I did cave in today. I had pawn. And it was just as I remembered from 34 years back. The last time I had it I was 11 years old and it was right here in Varanasi then too. And it was good. But I spit it out after five minutes. Everyone in Varanasi eats pawn, and their mouth (or lack of teeth or gums) shows it.

Then we stopped at a fancy hotel and had a beer, peanuts, poppers and a lentil/sprout appetizer. And we had veg lolly pops. It looks like a chicken drumstick with a crunchy part for the bone but is completely vegetarian. Quite good, and quite spicy. Then we headed back to Gopal's house for dinner and now I'm back at the hotel. It was a fun day, but tirings

Tomorrow I'm taking the morning to myself to rest. Then Pavan is picking me up at noon and we'll drive out to the villages, this time with my camera!

These following pictures taken today were from my cell phone.

Pavan and his one year old son

My cousin Gopal and his wife

Outdoor public urinal

Garbage rickshaw. Several bins for sorting garbage as it is collected

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