Varanasi Again – 29: A Minor Detour

Cassia fistula/Amaltaas – the Chandelier of the Gods One of the trees that blossoms with beautiful flowers during this time, this season of Vasant, in the month of Vaishakh, is the Cassia fistula, commonly known as the Amaltaas, or the Golden Shower, and aptly rechristened by Vaishali, my wife, as the ‘Chandelier of the Gods’.…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 29: A Minor Detour

Varanasi Again – 28: A Minor Detour

I have been telling my story – the story of my visit to Varanasi Again – for some time now. But I must pause now, stop a while, take a minor detour, if I may say so. But why? The curious reader may ask. For it is ‘the season’ again. What season? The intelligent reader…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 28: A Minor Detour

Varanasi Again – 27: Towards Kashi Vishwanath

Ghats of Varanasi

The boat chugged cheerfully in the waters, carrying its load of chattering, smiling, laughing, gesticulating people onboard. It headed for the mid-stream of the river, and then turned and headed north, the direction where our destination, the Kashi Vishwanath temple lay. The Kashi Vishwanath, is one of the twelve jyotirlingams in India. A jyotirlingam is…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 27: Towards Kashi Vishwanath

Varanasi Again – 26: On the boat

Ghats of Varanasi

The boat rocked gently as we climbed up the ramp leading to the bow. The boat was two storied with an upper, observation deck and a lower deck for sitting as well as storage, thus making it a little cramped. Everyone instinctively headed up to the upper deck, scrambling along a narrow, wrought iron staircase,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 26: On the boat

Varanasi Again – 25: Meeting our host

Ghats of Varanasi

Even while all these memories flashed through my mind, and tickled me, outwardly I remained attentive and kept scanning the ghats for any of our hosts who might be there to receive us. In the distance, a few ghats away, I could already see a couple of bajras moored to the river bank, at a…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 25: Meeting our host

Varanasi Again – 24

Ghats of Varanasi

Thus we reached the Tulsi ghat, talking, skipping, laughing, reminiscing about our days in Varanasi. I talked to the children continuously, and to Vaishali when I could. The steps of the Tulsi ghat lead up to the residence of our senior, V N Mishra, and just before one reaches the top of the steps, to…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 24

Varanasi Again – 23: Tulsi ghat

Ghats of Varanasi

We walked along the Ganga, a happy bunch, excited at the prospect of meeting more friends, and going for a boat ride on the Ganga after so many years. ‘Most of the ghats were built, or renovated, by the Marathas in the 18th century,’ I told the kids, ‘as was the present Kashi Vishwanath temple.…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 23: Tulsi ghat

Varanasi Again – 22: Assi ghat

Ghats of Varanasi

The Assi ghat that we stepped on to was cleaner than the ghat that I remembered from my days in Varanasi. A parking space for private vehicles had been built at the end of the road, right where one steps off the road and on to the stone steps of the ghat. The space was…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 22: Assi ghat

Varanasi Again – 21: Down memory lane…

Ghats of Varanasi

I had stepped out of the mini-bus, and now stood looking at the house, rooted to the ground, oblivious of the pandemonium around me, waves and waves of memories washing over me. ‘Hey’, Vaishali called out, physically shaking me out of my daydream. ‘What?’ she asked quizzically. I looked around, coming back to present. People…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 21: Down memory lane…

Varanasi Again – 20: The white house…

Ghats of Varanasi

As we got down from the bus, one after the other, in a single file, I smelled the air…. Dust on the road, water dripping from taps turning the dust into muck, faint smell of the ghats, the waters of Ganga, incense, smell of stray dogs, monkey, cow dung….it was a strange smell, reminiscent of…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 20: The white house…

Varanasi Again – 19: Towards the ghats…

Ghats of Varanasi

Sigra, Rathyatra, Kamaccha, Bhelupur, Lanka……the names rattled off in my brain as I drew a mental map of the route we were going to take to our destination. It was strange that I should still be able to remember these names. I always thought, even when I had joined BHU as a fresher, that the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 19: Towards the ghats…

Varanasi Again – 18

Ghats of Varanasi

‘Saajan’. The name resonated in my mind, evoking strange feelings, like the name of a long forgotten beloved. And the place where this theatre was, was called…….again a pause, a break in the train of my thoughts, and then it came, the name….’Sigra’. I smiled, and gestured towards Vaishali, pointing towards the place where I…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 18

Varanasi Again – 17: Familiar streets again…

Ghats of Varanasi

The bus laboured along the crowded roads of Varanasi, carrying us in its cavernous belly. Children talked loudly, adults talked even louder, and laughed, and chatted like they had never left college, like they were going for a school picnic. People clicked pictures with their smart phones, then took selfies, changed seats to be with…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 17: Familiar streets again…

Varanasi Again – 16: Inside the city…

Ghats of Varanasi

Up ahead, as we were just entering the city limits, we saw an intersection with a large poster welcoming ‘The Batch of 1995 IMS, BHU’ to the city. Vaishali smiled, as did I. This was a nice touch, and some good thinking by the organizers of the event. This was Vaishali’s reunion, and most of…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 16: Inside the city…

Varanasi Again – 15: A new Varanasi….

Ghats of Varanasi

Anything is possible provided there is public pressure, and political will. The Varanasi that we were entering was a classical example of this belief of mine. The road which were now driving on was six-laned, barricaded, with a divider in between and plantation all around. Intermittently we could see raised pedestrian bridges for people to…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 15: A new Varanasi….

Varanasi Again – 14: The road to Varanasi…

Ghats of Varanasi

There are several ways one could drive from Lucknow to Varanasi, if one wanted to. One way leads through Raebareli, a small town known more for its political affiliations than anything else, then through Kunda near Pratapgarh, known for its strong arm politicians, and finally skirts Mirzapur to reach Varanasi. Mirzapur city, and district, fall…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 14: The road to Varanasi…

Varanasi Again – 13: Out of the city….

Ghats of Varanasi

A thin veil of light fog hung over the road, not enough to impede visibility dangerously, just enough to make the morning beautiful, romantic, poetic. As one moved away from the road however, and into the shrubs or trees or the occasional woods that flanked the highway, the fog intensified, cloaking the flanks of the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 13: Out of the city….

Varanasi Again – 12: On our way…

Ghats of Varanasi

Get up quickly, babies, I said, and get ready. We have a road trip ahead of us, I said, trying to rouse the sleepy girls. Road trip! They chirped, and quickly got out the bed to get ready. A flurry of activity followed as all of us got ready, finished the final packing, and descended…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 12: On our way…

Varanasi Again – 11: Getting up, getting ready

Ghats of Varanasi

I was shivering now, with the cold, and with the emotion that the dream had evoked in me. Hurriedly, I wore my sweater, and then wrapped a shawl around myself for good measure. It was, after all, December, and the peak of winters in the northern plains of India. My head covered in a cap,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 11: Getting up, getting ready

Varanasi Again – 10: Tryst with Varanasi

Ghats of Varanasi

Maybe it was the upcoming journey to Varanasi, to Kashi, the city of light, and the city where I had spent a good part of my youth, that was the genesis of this dream. Most of the time people live in cities, but sometimes cities live in people as well. It was the same with…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 10: Tryst with Varanasi