18 March 2007

BANARAS - THE HOLY CITY

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Banaras is the holiest of all the holy cities of India and the filthiest of all.
I am not angry
Oh no ! Yes I am angry
The civic authorities make absolutely no efforts to keep the city clean, a city which attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every day. You'll find stray dogs cows buffalos pigs, sick horses too, they seem to rule the place. Oh yes I forgot the donkeys. There are no roads, only pot holes, in between potholes there are patches of roads. A few roads leading to the ghats are in reasonably good condition.
I am pretty comfortable with filth and garbage. I belong to the streets anyway.

The local people make up for the lapses of the civic administration and the employees. Exceedingly sweet courteous and respectful.



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What ? Fooding and lodging ?
He has communicated hasn't he ? Absolutely no hesitation. They communicate. You know what it is, you just go there and eat, simple !. I have to learn the art of communication and the art of survival from these people. I had my breakfast here, Aaloo Paratha (Roti stuffed with potato) steaming hot, with some jam and pickle. The kind of respect you receive is not fake, pretty genuine it is, very much unlike the 5 star hotels. They may not follow your language but they will pick up a couple of words and connect and try to help you. If they do not know the directions, they will make enquiries for you and spend their time on you.


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Its the people who make the place beautiful and make your stay a memorable one. I ignored all the filth stray animals and the garbage, I enjoyed my stay in Banaras. Good room with TV for 300 rupees a day very clean, little over my budget though, but I did not look for cheaper ones as it was raining and I was tired after a 300 KM bus journey from Lucknow.


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A newly married couple is going towards the ghats, not to wash the sins they have not committed yet, perhaps to a temple, you can see the bride behind a cow's behind, don't know what mud pot is for or whats in it. The cow is not a part of the family, if it is, I am not surprised.
It is going in the same direction.


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He looks very angry. Perhaps his visa application was rejected by the American embassy. Where is his mouth ? Perhaps he is angry with John Lennon too, he is the one who showed them the way to fame and fortune in the west. Believe me there are thousands of them here. You can adopt any one of them, an in- house guru,
here they are ! a few of them.


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Just make an announcement that you want to adopt one guru who can offer a unique philosophy. There would be a stampede of gurus and swamijis and you'll come under them. Tell them to get organised, you will have a queue 4 mile long. Tell them that you'll interview only those who could speak English. Still you'd have 3 and half mile long queue. They know how to communicate and each one has his own style of Nirvana.


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Pleasant experiences in the 2 day train journey. Sweet memories of a little girl Vasini who kept offering me everything she ate. Sweet adorable child. Since it was a 2 day journey, all my things were scattered all over the place, she and her mom kept gathering and arranging my things. I am very lazy clumsy and very disorganised. There's always a mess around me.

This is how I reached Banaras. Chennai - Allahbad - Lucknow - Banaras or Varanasi as it is called now. You start getting oranges in the train 100 kilometers before and after Nagpur. 10 rupees for a bagful.

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Back to Banaras. You can buy one of these and become a guru yourself. Before you enter the ghats, the pundits would start pestering you, offering pujas, puja material, or offering direct tickets to heaven for your dear departed ones.


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What would you call a place where you have 500 photographic oppertunities every minute. Its a photographer's paradise. Please avoid drinking or eating near the ghats and temples. Had a tough time avoiding cops with guns in the pictures. They were all over the place. Mood spoiling it was, and to make matters worse I look like a terrorist. I did not go near the temples as I heard that metal detectors are installed there. When I pass through a metal detector, it doesn't just beep, it starts singing and dancing. In my bag I carry 3 iPODs and three different chargers for those, a portable CD player, I am very greedy, 4 sets of batteries and a charger, 2 cameras, one borrowed from Nirmal and two chargers for the cameras. I'll have a tough time explaining to the cops, who can just harass you and waste your time. Luckily I had no such problems. Any one can walk into the temples, there is no restriction.


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Took a boat for 50 rupees and I did not bargain. But they fleece you. Had the boat to myself and took my time. I did not even dip my finger this time, to wash away the sins my finger committed. Its a matter of faith. Every one wants to purify himself or herself. I can't argue here. So I will keep my personal views aside, once again.


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Big scale washing of sins goes on every second and the river Ganges carries them all, Ganga mai, Ganga mataa it is called ( Mother Ganga) Yes It is the mother who suffers for all the sins her children commit. Mother earth, mother nature.


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Its more like a purifying ritual, they all know that they cannot wash away their deeds of the past. Some sincerely believe and clear the old account and get ready to commit fresh sins.


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washee washee ! Wife helping husband to wash away his sins.
You tried to kill my mother remember ? you pushed her off the staircase and she broke her leg ? she was in the hospital for three months ? remember remember ???
Here, washee washee Dippee dippee for that. Wife thinks that she has not committed any sin. She is interested only in washing her husband's sins.



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No money for gurus and pundits in washing the sins. Big money lies in funeral rites. After the cremation people bring the ashes to Banaras for the final send off. Guilty children spend a lot of money to sent their parents to heaven. If you have money you can buy anything. Sending parent's soul to heaven. Wonder why FedEx is not in business here. These gurus are smarter than FedEx and DHL. They know the route. No stamping, no visa to heaven.


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First is shaving the head. little hair is left at the back of the head. You would have seen Hare' Rama Hare' Krishna people having it. It is called kudumi in Tamil, don't know what is the significance, please contribute if you know.


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Then comes elaborate rituals, offerings (always money, Ticket to heaven is not free) Pujas, forgivance, deleting the sins parents committed from the hard disk, money money money for everything. Finally the ashes are taken to the recycle bin. immeresed in river ganges, which pollutes the waters. The authrities have stopped the practice of cremation on the banks of the river, saw half burnt dead bodies floating in the river last time. But dropping the ashes still continues. Further down people drink the same water, wash the clothes utensils.


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Some tough looking chappees carrying the ashes to be immeresed in the river.
Ok now, bye bye dad ! don't come back, we have spent a lot of money for you, be a good boy in heaven. Don't come back okay ?? here we go ! DHOOMP !



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The boatman telling a story to the tourists and they eat it. Tourists are absolutely safe in Banaras. They may fleece you thats all. Obviously this boatman can't speak English but he is communicating.


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Except for removing the footware in the temples, there is no restriction on the tourists. Total freedom, you can take pictures of anything anywhere, no one would object. You would keep clicking until your finger is tired.

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This poor American is not getting bashed up by the locals. He is getting a body massage on the banks of the river. No it is not a massage, something more vigorous than that. I heard his bones cracking. I spoke to him after it was done. He said it was an awsome experience.
'Feeling top of the world now' he said Why don't you try it ?
Oh no ! Not me.




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No its not my hand. Wanted to take a picture. You pay 5 rupees and buy one for your departed soul. for whom ? For my grand mother I said. and You let it float in the river.


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There she goes, my grandma, poor old thing. Sorry grandma, couldn't send you in first class. 5 rupees was all I could spend.


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This man is holding the mortal remains of his dear departed one, performing rituals, spending money. Wonder what is the mirror there for. It must have some function. I found some women pandits too performing rituals.


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You can buy lot of things there. You have to bargain a lot. Very cheap. They will follow you, sometimes its a pain. But not one will yell at you get angry or use foul language if you bargain.
They all are very respectful people. they treat you with genuine respect.


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One thing I have to tell you. If you go for shopping in an auto or rickshaw, just go about collecting cards or addresses and don't buy anything. . After some time ditch the auto or rickshaw and go back to the shops to buy, it will be a lot cheaper. The shop keepers have to give 40% commission to the person who takes you there which eventually has to come from your pocket. Sohrab Khan, the gentleman who helped me take pictures of the silk weavers there gave me this information. Just too many things to buy.


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Streets of Banaras will come in the next post. This trip gave me a lot, the people gave me so much of love and care, more about this later. Though I don't believe I am saying this, I felt lot richer spiritually. Just the attitude of the people. Not the rituals, washing the sins or the sacred river. Just ignore the filth, garbage and stray animals, and ignore the cops, you would love the place. It has so much to offer.

I am not happy about the template, I'll change the tree there. I am going to Hyderabad today.
I am traveling with no gaps as it gets unbearably hot in April. Have to travel this month. I'll be back on 24th and respond to all your comments and mails.
Please believe me, Banaras is awsome. I loved it. Every minute.
All my love

Blunt Knife
Wildpic

64 comments:

e2d said...

Hi Rauf:
Great to know you are back.
The pictures are gorgeous.So much color and so much going on.
Had read a book based in Banaras sometime back and the place and characters came alive again.
Hope to go there someday( which is something I say all the time :))Anyways....
By any chance were you able to take a picture of banaras hindu university?
Eagerly awaiting the images of the streets of banaras.
Have a safe and good trip to Hyd.

Rauf said...

No e2dees, I couldn't go there. It was on my mind. I was counting my bones, putting them back in their places. The roads are so bad that my head jumped up from my shoulders, had to grab it many times. Don't like the idea of some one walking away with my head or my arms. Absolutely no complaints. I loved the bone rattling rickshaw rides. No time to take rest. Been there before twice, place is getting worse, armed cops everywhere. But they don't bother any tourists but I look like a terrorist, that was the problem.
The place has history. Have to go there again to see some old buildings, they are falling to pieces. Took a few pictures of lost glory of Nawaabs in Lucknow.

magiceye said...

excellent pictomentary as usual! enjoyed the journey to benaras....thank you!

Rauf said...

Thank You MagicEye, have you been there ?

mystic rose said...

and here it is...much awaited!!

wow!! awesome pics! loved the whole write up! sad that the place is not maintained properly.

"Angeldust" said...

Hello Raufie dearest

This is by far the most spectacular/monumental collection of pics.
Or... just another greeeeeeat post?
I like the new look (including the “walking” trees)

Love the little girl and once again you managed to charm and get looked after … J

As to my deep soul reaction… Donno. Donno why I cry as I am looking at the photos - it is a totally involuntary reaction - still can't tell why...

We have a lot of imported gurus and swamis and ashrams and …. I can send you info he-he-he. We are all (OK a lot of us) in search of enlightenment.
In a world where you can buy everything why not buy that too?
Instant success. Instant gratification… always gravitating to the point of least resistance.
Human nature at its most vulnerable or at its more foolish? Who’s to really say, hmmm?

You know Rauf, I often thought about the Ganges and the life/death and “some” that is in it; one can’t help but contemplate seriously that given the amount od people that survives the vist in perfect health is a testament to its power. No?

As for the filth?
I come from a big city - Buenos Aires - I remember seeing neighbors and businesses sweep and wash the sidewalks daily!
Here, there is a man in this neighborhood that carries a "pincher" and collects the discards from some sloppy people and picks them up during his daily strolls.
I do live in a "pristine" city, it was one of the draws..
I am rather "anal" about public cleanliness.

Moved from two cities because of the filth.
In one, I could not persuade neither the city the administration nor the business people to wash up the sticky/filthy spit and gum covered sidewalks - it turned my stomach having to walk my dog on all of that and then having to have inside my apartment! (The poor little guy had long hair too ouy.)

It is inexcusable. Everybody can afford a broom and a bit of muscle power.
There is a popular area in Vancouver, where people sit among all the filth, drug addiction, and plain ugly/agressive punk sipping Strarbuck’s lattes… totally revolting!

Lots of love and hugs

Ruth said...

There is a big difference between your post on Banaras and the wiki article, let me tell you. Haha. And I don't know what you did with your photos, but they were loading quickly at home on dialup this morning. I finally did wait and look at half of them at work, which was faster.

My god, what a place. I feel tired out! I feel I was there with you. Your humorous perspective cut through the commercial crap, and yet with so much going on, I wonder how I would feel there. So much hope and something distorted at the same time. The concept metaphorically is beautiful, isn't it? Going to the river, the flowing water, to be cleansed. But in reality, this is a sad place, yet full of hopeful energy.

As much as I would want to do what you did, get in and take photos, get into a boat, wander and explore, I wonder if I would have the stamina. It is beautifully oppressive, if that makes any sense. I want to sit on a slab of stone somewhere and just watch and listen.

You've done a thorough and amazing job of portraying this place, Rauf. I feel I've been there.

Talk with you when you're back!

priya said...

Rauf:

Just awesome and full of vibrant colors. I just love your color of the template.

Amazing pictures...........

You are genius:)

Claudia said...

Superb documentary, Rauf!

Oya said...

Rauf, looks like an amazing place and your photos are absolutely stunning. I am speachless. Just one thing, what have you eaten there? I would be very nervous about food there. As you stated numerous times, it is very dirty.

FOUR DINNERS said...

Fantastic pics. Felt like I was there with you! One day....

Mystic Rose said...

and where r the pics of the weavers? i relaly wanted to see those!!!

loved the write up in this one too!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rauf
Great pictures as usual!
You need to wash youself with detergent after the dip in Ganges, i suppose!! Saw any corpse floating around?
Heard about burning ghats(?). Is it in Benaras?

Planning visit Chennai
rgds
yoneb

Cindy said...

Wow, Rauf! Such beautiful and vibrant pictures- some of your best yet, I think. Thank you for taking us on your journey with you!
And, I like the new template- the color really fits.

ldbug said...

That definitely looks like one great city! I'll have to remember it for the future when I finally get over to India.

All the pictures are beautiful!

And how much does a ticket to heaven cost anyway?

iamnasra said...

Did I tell I have been to India just at the airport ...wow people of India they have so much colors...love the colors of india

By the way Ilove the red here in ur blog and the tree

Ruth said...

Glad you're back safely, Rauf.

Love this new brick/wine red background and the header graphics. That circular symbol is beautiful. What is it?

Hope your weekend is going well, and I look forward to next post. Thanks for the comments, I'll respond tomorrow -- have guests coming this evening and am cleaning, rearranging, cleaning . . . good excuse to pay attention to my house before guests come. Otherwise, the dust keeps piling up.

lots of love

isabella said...

So good to have you back!
What a journey...my head is still spinning! Love the colors, the sounds and the smells you captured so well.
I feel your anger and frustration with Banaras - it could easily be one of the most beautiful places on earth, if only it was maintained properly!
I have a million questions for you, but I know how busy you are so I will limit myself to only 3:
- what makes Banaras the holiest of cities in India?
- don't people get sick using/cleansing themselves in the river?
- why do you look like a terrorist? ;-)))
Will be back for more after I process all those images in my head...

her indoors said...

yet another interesting and colourful post, thank you x

Rauf said...

Thank you Mystic Rose.

Rauf said...

Dearest Angel,
In simple terms this is just nature worship, nothing more. Tell people to worship nature for keeping us alive. They would not listen. Add drama to it, like washing the sins yes, they would listen to you. Christianity started fading within 300 years of Crucufiction. People started going back to their old beliefs because Christianity was too simple. King constantine thought(please correct me Angel) that they should add some drama to it. So resurruction was fabricated and added. There was no Easter for first 300 years. Only after this Christianity started spreading.

River Ganges or Ganga is a sacred river. Ganga mai, mother Ganga. Mother is a giver. It supports life. Rivers, the Sun, the trees animals are all sacred. Simple nature worship is not enough. People need more than that. more complicated rituals are added, stories become religion. Not just Ganges, all rivers are sacred. People throw coins in the rivers.
After streets of Banaras I'll post pictures of SANGAM at Allahbad where Ganga and Yamuna(jamna) meet.
Taj Mahel is on the banks of river Yamuna. SANGAM is union. You can see some major washing there too. River Krishna and Godavari in the south are sacred too. Fire is sacred. So is the cow snake or an elephant. Nature worship, thats all.

In the south Indian states people keep their streets clean. Its an early morning ritual, clean the area around your house, sprinkle water then draw Kolam. ( you can see pictures of kolam in Farmer's post. Most of the places of Pilgrimage are very dirty. Tirupati
Tirumala (state of Andhra) is the most popular temple in India. It gets a lot of money. It is kept clean. But the pilgrims don't co-operate. So the maintainance team is always on its toes 24 hours a day. The place is small and its easy to keep it clean. People should understand their civic duties but we expect the government to do it. India is a large country Angel, its difficult to maintain hygene. We still don't have a fast and effective garbage disposal system. Garbage keeps piling up for weeks in major cities. Its hard to believe that there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in a city called Surat in the state of Gujrat a few years ago.
lots of love and Hugs Angel.

Rauf said...

Dear Ruth, I cut short page one in the settings. Previously there were ten posts on the page, now it is 3, I'll make it 2 today. Page would load a bit faster.

Forgot a lot of things Ruth. Don't know what wikipedia says, haven't read it yet.

Banaras, also known as Varanasi or Kashi. Kashi Yatra ( journey to Kashi) is supposed to be the last journey. Man gives up his family and worldly possessions and leaves for Kashi never comes back. It used to take months to reach there.
If he dies in Kashi the man goes to heaven.

There is a ritual in Brahmin weddings. Early in the morning of the wedding the groom is handed an umbrella and a few things. Groom says i am giving up everything and taking a final journey to Kashi. The groom goes out of the house, goes for a round on foot. his father-in-law chases him begs and pleads him to stay and offers his daughter to 'entertain' him. Entertainment wins and the groom stays back. This is a compulsary ritual in every brahmin wedding. Now the groom can take a flight to Banaras and come back for entertainment and the wedding reception. Father-in-law washes groom's feet with milk, yes milk and welcomes him and offers his daughter. Ruth, I'll get the permission from my friends who recently got married and post the pictures of all the rituals. To crush the ego, even the rich are supposed to beg from house to house, collect money for Kashi yatra, journey to Kashi. You are not supposed to use your credit card for Kashi yatra, no travellers cheques either. just with the money you have collected from begging. This just to crush the ego before you take off barefoot for Kashi.

If you ignore the garbage cow dung and the filth, you would find the place bursting with energy. The place has thousands of years of history. If you remove the cops from the scene the place would look like it has no administration. Its a forest of people and temples. I avoided temples this time. Efforts to clean up highly polluted Ganges started just 20 years ago. Now cremation on the banks of Ganges is not allowed. Holy water of Ganga is sprinkled in all auspicious occasions.

Hayden said...

absolutely wonderful as always, rauf, thank you. my eyes are happy, my heart at rest.

I read a book on the Surat plague by a local reporter who lived there at the time. Sad story. I think people would react the same way everywhere.

Rauf said...

Thank you Priya. Next time you visit India please take some time to go to Banaras. No point in taking a flight and spending a couple of hours. You have to feel the place. The place is simply amazing, I loved it. I don't care about the filth and garbage, I am an indian. There is so much of life here. Joy pain poverty suffering is so much exposed. I just wish the place was lot more cleaner since it attraacts thousands of pilgrims and tourists.

I am allergic to intelligence and wisdom Priya. I have limited understanding, and don't understand complications and i don't make any efforts to understand complex subjects. These don't make me a genius Priya.

Rauf said...

Thank you Claudia, hope you visit india with family one day. Your camera would swell with pictures. Hope the things improve here. Massive efforts are being taken to clean up the river. The place is very safe for tourists.

Rauf said...

OYA, Eat straight out of the frying pan, thats what I did. And drink only mineral water. You are safe. I ate street side food too but hot. there is such an amazing variety. i'll write about it in my next post 'Streets of Banaras'
Its the people who make the place beautiful.

iamvisheshur said...

people really think they have done something wrong in their life don't they?
i mean the same people who say what Mr.god wants will happen and they believe that by going and taking a dip in a dirty and polluted river will make them clean and green!! ??

Rauf said...

You would love it Neil. There is so much of energy there. You know about my beliefs. Its the people and their activities which makes the place intersting, not the myths and legends. You'll find two extremes. the place would take you back in history. Jax and Caz would love it too. Hope you make it one day Neil.

Rauf said...

Mystic Rose, Silk weaving would take 3 posts, Kanjeevaram Banaras (the whole process and the work on silk) and Pochampalli. Hope you get time to visit Pochampalli when you visit India next Mystic Rose. i have never seen such a beautiful and clean village. I fell in love with the place and the people. just 42 KMs from Hyderabad. Good road but crowded bus ride no elbow room. I loved it.

Rauf said...

Hi Yoneb. Oh yes The water is still highly polluted. But there are continuous efforts to keep the river clean. I saw half burnt corpses floating in the river last time. This time i did not see any. cremation on the banks is no longer allowed now. But i saw a couple of funeral processions moving towards the ghats. there must be a cremation ground not far from the river.

please write to me before you visit madras Yoneb, it would be a pleasure to meet you Hope I am in town.
044 - 4501 0088 and
044 - 2813 3985 are the phone numbers I don't have a mobile. its a nuisance.

Rauf said...

I am not happy with the tree Cindy, have to change it.

one of the amazing features of Banaras is the mode of local transport Cindy, you'll find all types of contraptions on wheels. I'll write about them in my next post.

Rauf said...

ldbug, this city has thousands of years of history, destroyed many times by the invaders and rebuilt.
No other country has been repeatedly invaded like India, for 365 days of sunshine, fertile lands
and for ever flowing rivers. Situation has changed now, half the rivers have gone dry.

Ticket to heaven can be very expensive. Depends on the rituals one chooses to perform at home or on the banks of river ganges. The pujaris, the priests are very smart. So are the gurus and swamijis. they can smell the money in your pocket. They take advantage of the guilt factor. After treating the parents badly children are willing to give them an expensive send off.

Train ticket from Chennai to Banaras (now called Varanasi) a distance of 2139 KMS is around 550 rupees one way, about 11 dollars for a comfortable journey with sleeping berth. For the whole trip of one week, Chennai Lucknow (further up) and Allahbad i spent about 60 dollars, less than 3000 rupees. Tourists who pay in dollars can get the reservation easily. Tourists are safe but you have to cling onto your belongings all the time.

Rauf said...

Hi Nasra. Hope you did not lose anything at the airport. things move slow here. Efficiency is a distant dream. Please visit again Nasra. there are other cities on the banks of river Ganges like Rishikesh Haridwaar, equally interesting and colourful.

Rauf said...

Dear Ruth, we had many guests yesterday. Couldn't sleep after reaching.

Want to put your tree there on the design. This would make you smile Ruth. The circular design is just a terracota tea coaster made by Priya, Nirmal's sister. have to go and steal some more from her. There was a blank space next to the tree, thought I could put this coaster there. Simply meaningless and has no significance whatsoever. Now I am having some different ideas.
Lots of love Ruth.

Rauf said...

Hi Isabella, How are you ? Felt the first heat wave in Hyderabad. It has come early this year.

I honestly don't know what makes Banaras holy. Many myths surrounding the place. All the rivers are holy. mountains are holy too. Its easy for me to give you a list of things that are not holy. Your cell phone is holy. i have seen people doing pooja on a mobile. Your TV is holy. We do pooja on the computer monitor and CPU. It is a source of knowledge. Your tools like camera are holy.
All the tools that help you to make a living are holy.
Banaras used to be a great city of learning in the past. Now you can pay money and buy yourself a PhD. I am not joking. You can hire a professor to write your exam. You can carry a gun or a knife to threaten the examiner, take all the books you want and copy them Carry your mobile to the examination hall, your friend would read all the text from outside and you can happily write. if you are too lazy to write the exams just skip them pay big money and get a degree, its for sale. I repeat Isabella, this is not a joke. We have medical doctors who do not know where kidneys are located. We have PhDs in english literature who can't speak a word of English and who have never heard of Shakespeare.
And they teach.

The level of water has come down and the river is still highly polluted. naturally people get sick. The place is very unhygenic.
But it is an amazing place. A photographer's paradise. Its the attitude of the locals which is most pleasing Isabella.

I don not know why i look like a terrorist. i was born with these looks i never tried to look less dreadful. and i made it worse by growing a wild beard which goes in all directions, My toilet kit contains tooth brush, tooth paste and a soap, no comb or shampoo. Shabby clothes always. i sit on the road side and eat with cows and donkeys. I'll post a picture in my next blog, on the streets of Banaras.
hope you are having a great weekend Isabella.

Rauf said...

Isabella, This is an essay written by an IAS Indian Administrative Service, post graduate) candidate

the essay is on the Indian Cow

HE IS THE COW. "The cow is a successful animal. Also he is 4 footed, And because he is female, he give milks, [ but will do so when he is got child.] He is same like-God, sacred to Hindus and useful to man. But he has got four legs together. Two are forward and two are afterwards. His whole body can be utilised for use. More so the milk. Milk comes from 4 taps attached to his basement. [ horses dont have any such attachment]

What can it do? Various ghee, butter, cream, curd, why and the condensed milk and so forth. Also he is useful to cobbler, watermans and mankind generally. His motion is slow only because he is of lazy species, Also his other motion.. gober] is much useful to trees, plants as well as for making flat cakes[like Pizza] , in hand and drying in the sun.

Cow is the only animal that extricates his feeding after eating. Then afterwards she chew with his teeth whom are situated in the inside of the mouth. He is incessantly in the meadows in the grass. His only attacking and defending organ is the horns, specially so when he is got child. This is done by knowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be paralleled to the ground of the earth and instantly proceed with great velocity forwards. He has got tails also, situated in the backyard, but not like similar animals. It has hairs on the other end of the other side. This is done to frighten away the flies which alight on his cohesive body hereupon he gives hit with it.

The palms of his feet are soft unto the touch. So the grasses head is not crushed. At night time have poses by looking down on the ground and he shouts . His eyes and nose are like his other relatives. This is the cow.......

Rauf said...

Isabella, This is the art of communication I was talking about in this post, You know what he is talking about. What I appreciate in this essay is the clarity like 'Fooding and Lodging'. they don't hesitate. They make you understand.

Rauf said...

Thank you HER INDOORS

Rauf said...

Thank you Hayden. Good thing that the plague did not spread. Our administration is always caught napping. Months of garbage piled up was the reason. Other cities are still sleeping on the garbage.

Rauf said...

Hi Vishesh,
This is faith, people have certain beliefs and we have to respect their sentiments even if we think that they don't make sense. Others think that I don't make any sense.
There is no meeting point.

Any child can tell you that we cannot wash away our sins or past deeds. This is in fact a simple nature worship which turned complex. First a person has to accept that he has done wrong or committed sins. People go about butchering innocent humans without batting an eyelid. They even go to the extent of considering themselves as saints. Hitler sincerely thought that he is cleaning up this world. Whole nation stood behind him. I don't think they regretted even for a second, on the contrary they were proud of their deeds. Please believe me Vishesh, till today the Popes in vatican or the churches have not condemned the Nazi's evil actions. For them butchering of millions of Jews is not a sin.

Such hatred is still alive all over the world.

Taking a dip in the holy waters is just another money making gimmick for the pujaris or the priests.
It is the they who decide that one has committed a sin and there should be a repentance or 'praishchit' Pay this much of gold to the temple, and these articles for puja I'll wash your sins with holy water. Everything goes to the priest. Again its a traffic violation. The cop is happy that I am driving without a liscence. My crime is money for him. In a similar fashion Catholics go to the Church for confession. Once you confess you are pardoned. Same like taking a dip. Oh yes God has no control over evil, devil has a free hand, and most of the time Devil thinks he is god. Man thinks he is a saint and all his evil intentions or deeds are not sin for him. When an authority like a priest tells him, there is always a way to get rid of the guilt if he has money to spend. But he does not accept that he is evil. There are always confessions in the Church, there are always holy rivers to wash away and carry the sins people commit. The man is ready to commit fresh sins.

hope you are preparing well for your exams Vishesh.

Ruth said...

Your article was better than wiki, in the sense that it was real, personal, subjective (in a good way). If someone reads the wiki article, they are getting the geography lesson, not the sights, sounds, smells, and feeling of the place from your intimate perspective.

MYSTI said...

As always your posts are wonderful. I love the pictures and all the hard work you put into explaining what each one is. I feel like I have gone on a visit with you! Thank you for making my day more aware, and enjoyable.

Blessings.

Mysti

Rauf said...

That is a sweet compliment Ruth, I loved it. I may be wrong in many places, Perhaps they cleaned up the city next day. This is my third visit. it really hasn't improved, it was in same condition during my last two visits. Except for cops posted everywhere. Presence of policemen with guns can make any one uneasy.
I'll post streets of Banaras tommorrow.

Rauf said...

Hi Mysti, what ever you enjoy doing is not hard work, I loved the place and was never tired. Only after reaching home I realised how tired I was and I slept for two days.
hope you are doing fine Mysti

priya said...

Rauf:

I have also lived in calcutta and I know what is crowd and jammed cars and buses. I still love that city next to my hometown. Your pictures took me back when I visited Haridwar and Rishikesh few years back.

Rauf said...

I love Calcutta Priya. Hope I can make it this year, I have crossed many times on my way to Sikkim or Darjeeling, stayed only once Been to Haridwaar Rishikesh 25 years ago on my way to Badrinath. Just out of curiosity, not out of devotion. Posting streets of Banaras now.

By the way which is your hometown near Calcutta ?
Hope you are fine Priya

isabella said...

Oh, Rauf - that Indian Cow essay is priceless ;-) I am still laughing...But I also see what you mean - he did make himself understood. Reminds me of the humorous book "Me talk pretty some day" by David Sedaris, about his early efforts to learn French and explaining everything in infantile terms...But, of course, he was not a post graduate canditate.
Yes, please post a self-portrait soon!

Rauf said...

They always manage to make you understand Isabella. There is absolutely no confusion. And they can make any vehicle run.

I would love to read that book you mentioned Isabella.

priya said...

Rauf:

I lived in Calcutta for few years. Well my home town is close to Palghat( just 40 mins drive) and is the textile industry of South Inida.

Rauf said...

Hi Priya, sorry for the late response, going to Palghat next, Palghat - Mannarkad, mukhali Aghali. Going to Silent Valley actually. Have lots of pictures of old houses in Palghat. I love the old style houses. I'll post them soon. Been pending for a long time.
$0 minutes drive towards which side ? You don't know how angry I get in Palghat, it has five different bus stations, one for each direction. I go to the stadium bus stand only to be told to go to a different bus stand.

priya said...

Rauf-not from palghat but coimbatore.

Rauf said...

Priya, my dearest friends are in Coinmatore and Pollachi, textile industry, they grow cotton too. And now they are into organic farming.

From Coimbatore you can go in any direction, you are in paradise.
Mettupalayam - kothagiri, ... coimbatore Anakatti - Aghali, Mukkhali - Silent Valley, very close.

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Rauf, amazing riot of vibrant colours and pulsating life!
It is truly wonderful how the animal species, and especially humans adapt to their environment.
Whether it is from local food to washing in the Ganges.
More fascinating how humans adapt the environment to their Culture, whether it is colurful clothes or funerals & cremation ...

Matangi Mawley said...

hey.. those were amazing photos.. i felt as though i was actually walking through the streets of varanasi.. gr8 goin..

Rauf said...

Oh No Quasar9, it works more the other way around. Its the nature which adapts itself to human folly.
This planet heals itself of all the injuries we have caused, though it may take hundreds of years for the healing process.

Here in this case, in Bombay and other North Indian cities people have terrific attitude. They are agressive at times but mostly very soft. They keep adjesting themselves to all the shortcomings of the administration.

Rauf said...

Hi Matangi, Thank you so much, Matangi is one of my fav, names.

david said...

just discovered your site - you have a lot of fascianting and frankly amazing shots on here. stunning work.

Rauf said...

Thank you David, this is nothing more than documentation.

Lotus Reads said...

Rauf, I am completely mesmerized by the pictures and your documentary. Your love and respect for the people of Varansi is palpable and I so want to go there and experience all that you did.

Those saffron shawls are splendid-looking wish I could have one for myself! :)

No, I am not a teacher of dance, I so wish I were though. I am a book reviewer and anthropology is only a hobby. My main blog is Lotus Reads.

Again, I am very grateful to you for sharing these wonderful pictures with us...I think I am half in love with the city of Benares now...hope I get to visit some day.

Moi said...

Hi rauf, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the comment behind....i took me some time to respond coz i wanted to look at every single pic and read every single word here on this space .. U have done an awesome job of documenting Varanasi. Ur wit makes it all the more interesting .....I have been there once as a child...all i remember form my trip is how we kept running from one temple to another and kept crossng ghats....

Wud love to see ur other work too....

Rauf said...

Moi, I panicked, i went back to your page to see if i had written anything stupid. Nice pictures in your page too.
So a shift in attutude is required to enjoy Varanasi. Its so full of life, i was quite reluctant to put the camera back in to my bag. the only rest i had was having Chai with rickshaw waale' bhaiyas sitting on the pavements. I call them bhaiya, though they are younger than me.

Rauf said...

Lotus Reads, I am very uncomfortable in houses which look like museums. So well maintained and every thing is on display to impress the visitor. But i see no signs of life. that really bothers me. A house should have signs of people living there, the house should say there are children living here. So a untidy house is fine with me. Banaras is something like that. I was very comfortable with chaos. But there is always room for improvements. Banaras looks like an abandoned place in some areas with garbage and filth.
I try to give you a true picture, it could be unpleasant Lotus Reads. The place is vibrating with life. I loved it.

snehal said...

hi !!! absolutely amazing pictures...
m an architecture student , doing some research abt banaras . the pictures are stunning and , they have surely helped me getting a basic sight of banaras before being there...
really want to thank ...
god bless !!!

rauf said...

Thank you Snehal, if you find these pictures useful for your research you can always use them, you don't have to seek my permission. i can mail you higher resolution pictures if you want. You would enjoy every minute in Banaras. Depends on your approach. You would love it or hate it. People are very friendly and helpful. i would recommend 6 part BBC serial 'the story of India' presented by Michael Woods. i think i have posted pictures in 'streets of Banaras' as well.
Thank you once again Snehal for your visit.