Thursday, March 16, 2017

Evening boat ride at Varanasi

After resting for most of the day, I met the others in the lobby. Towards the end of long trips I find that I need more rest and less visual stimulation. My body gets overloaded both physically and mentally.

By the way, the prior night was a Saturday and as expected a lot of noise came from a nearby wedding. Music and fireworks that continued on to a bit after 10 pm. As in most Indian cities, things get much quieter after 11 pm

Some sort of protest march passed by. I think it was political.

More ironing getting done. It still puzzles me how any of these poor people survive with such little income.

The hotel in the middle (Haifa) was where we stayed. It was a pity the internet was so bad. I could have got some blogging done.

Johanna and Anna ready for our evening boat ride.

So we loaded onto the boat again. Alejando and I sit on either side to help balance the load.

We were soon out on the water doing much the same route we did in the morning.

Nan, Jiang and Grace. It was still warmish so very pleasant out on the river.

The bilge pump in action as usual.

Getting ready for the ceremonies later in the evening.

A burning ghat with two fires. You can't really see anything except flames.

It's all very pretty and relaxing with lovely ripple effects.

There is a tradition of floating candles on the water to honor the dead. The boat crew had brought a bunch along and started to light them even though it was difficult with the slight wind.

You can see the flames at a burning ghat. From what I had read and people had told me, I was expecting to see the whole spectrum of life played out on the ghats, from birthing mothers to dead bodies and cremations. Nothing of the sort.

My candle.

Duly plopped into the water. You have to lean over and drop the final few inches.

George does his best to go overboard.

Some of our candles floating away.

We approached one of the river side ceremonies.

We pulled in close to one of the ceremonies. The river bank was jammed with boats.

Lots of other people on boats.

Fortunately our boat driver made sure we did not get too jammed in so we could leave when we were ready.

It's bedlam out there on the boats. Not exactly an exercise in serenity.

Off in the distance, the monks do their thing. It's difficult to take these very long distance photos on a moving boat.

It is all very choreographed and it just seemed touristy to me, not particularly religious.

When we got back to the hotel, Happy held a group meeting. George and Grace were leaving the group the following day and flying from Varanasi to Delhi and then on to Toronto. That way they did not have to do the overnight train the following evening from Varanasi to Delhi and it fit in well with their plans. They were a great addition to the group.

So Happy gave us back the unused portion of the tip money which came to about 1200 rupees out of the 2000. We also wrote down our email addresses on a sheet of paper and took a photo.

We then had dinner and close to the conclusion I took it upon myself as the oldest to do the group thank-you for Happy. We had all included a substantial tip to a big bundle of notes that was handed to her. We all agreed that she had been a wonderful group leader and that we were lucky to have her.

By the way, less than 20% of Intrepid's guides in India are female but Intrepid is trying to increase that percentage. And good on them to do this particularly in a country that is so male dominated.

Finally we serenaded Happy with our own version of the Dog Chorus. We barked and yapped away quite merrily, everybody joining in. Happy could not believe what was happening and even the kitchen and hotel staff came to see what the row was about. They were stupefied. What a group!

To give you an idea of what the dog chorus sounded like, try listening to this. The dog noises come after a while if you can stay the course that long. I actually like this piece since it is quite rhythmic and hypnotic in a way.

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