I booked the cheapest sleeper class train to Varanasi. Only NZD10 for a 30-hour long train ride.
Good thing is, my cart is right next to the food cart, so I get served food first. This class definitely has more people selling things. Food, drinks, chai, pens, blessings. Occasionally I get a wif of pungent toilet smell, but that’s ok.
I’ve been listening to podcasts while I was waiting for the delayed train. About mindfulness, meditation, being humble, and compassion. The places I’ve been and the uncomfortable situations I’ve been in during the trip is making me feel humble every day. It teaches me to just let life do its thing. If the train’s late, there’s nothing I can do to change that. Just gotta accept that it’s late and go with it.
Varanasi is my last stop of the India trip. Quite fitting, because it’s also the town where people come to die. Hindus believe that if their ashes are scattered in the river Ganga, it’s like a golden ticket straight to nirvana. I sat down at a tea stall by one of the main burning ghats; looking at the constant flow of men carrying the dead body on a bamboo stretcher, covered with white cloth and flowers. I think I saw at least 1 body every 5 minutes. they say about 200 bodies are burnt in Varanasi every day.
Walking along the river is very surreal. People bathing in the water, drinking the water, washing their clothes in the river, then occasionally I’d see a buffalo or two swimming in the river too. I walked down to the river, cleared out the plastic bag, bits of flower, bits of black charred wood(?), and washed my greenstone with the Ganga water.
India has been the most challenging country I’ve travelled so far, and it’s been the most rewarding. Thanks to the Spanish pharmacies Martha for helping me when I had 40-degree fever and diarrhoea that’s lasted 3 weeks. The Tibetan poet Ten Phun in Dharamsala for sharing the local artist hangout, and a tune from their home. The taxi driver who gave me a free ride to my hotel while I was walking in 3505m altitude town of Leh in the middle of the night. All the volunteers at the golden temple langar in Amritsar, serving this stranger food and chai all times of the day. Brothers who’ve shared their chillum and chai with this strange sister. And the countless people I’ve walked passed on the streets, sharing a smile and a chat.
I hope I get to come back to this incredible country again.