The wind howled softly……hooooooo……raising small storms of dry sand. The force of the waves hitting the sand had increased, helped, no doubt, by the full moon which shone balefully from on high. The wooden boat creaked….the boatman had disappeared! ‘Where is he?’, I asked, alarmed now. ‘Abe leave it,’ Rahul said. ‘Let’s walk around a…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 34: Escape from hell
The boat rocked, rippling the placid waters of the river, as we piled on inside it. It was a small wooden affair, pulled by a couple of oars, and suitable only for five-six people at the most. As we sat in it, me silently and Rahul and Vineet sniggering at each other, the boat man…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 33: Into the darkness…
Once it was decided that we were going to the Assi ghat, things moved fast. Neither me, nor Vineet had any vehicle, so all three of us piled on to Rahul’s scooter and off we went. The deserted university roads, lined by tall trees, shrouded by a light mist and made incandescent by the yellow…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 32: The boat to nothingness!
The night we ‘did it’ was a long one. It was so long ago that the details have started to blur now. It happened on a night when we had partied long enough, and hard enough to lose sight of right and wrong, when youthful enthusiasm, and curiosity had quelled the sane voice inside us…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 31: The trio who did it!
Let me resume the story after my minor detour……. As the boat chugged happily in mid-stream of the river Ganga, the one with the three flows (What? Patience; the explanation will come) I sat on the deck with my daughters, and looked around; breathing the crisp winter air, feasting my eyes on the landscape which…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 30: Back on Track
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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…
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…
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…
‘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
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…
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…
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….