Varanasi Again – 69: On the lectern

I walked down the steps of the LT, with the children tagging along, into the well and then up to the lectern. Vaishali moved aside to let me take the ‘stage’, eyeing me mischievously, and smiling knowingly. The alumni were quiet, listening intently, smiling, some of them pointing at me, some nudging each other. The…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 69: On the lectern

Varanasi Again – 67: The proceedings begin

KG’s wife was helping organise stuff down below in the well. The flowers, the bouquets to greet the teachers who would come, the stoles which all the alumni had to wear and, pagris. Yes! A man carrying several bag-loads full of the typical Indian headgear known as pagri walked in and, with the help of…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 67: The proceedings begin

Varanasi Again – 66: Inside the ILT

We climbed the steps of the aisle to find ourselves a comfortably distant vantage point, and a suitably unpopulated seat in the farther benches of the ILT. As all four of us settled down, I had a good look around. The poor old ILT looked like a bad case of facelift performed on a gracefully…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 66: Inside the ILT

Varanasi Again – 65: The corridors of the past

We walked past the atrium with the guard desk, or the reception, on our right side, the entrance to the corridor which housed the Preventive Medicine department and the Institute library at the end of it, on our left, and the main corridor of the institute, the spinal cord, the hollow bowel of the building…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 65: The corridors of the past

Varanasi Again – 64: Ghosts of the past

The temple stood to our left side, mute, beckoning, nursing dark secrets from our past lives inside its bosom, not revealing, not sharing, just waiting……waiting for me…. But that was last year. I had already honoured my tryst with the temple, and the bright orange deity with the large, dark eyes who resided inside the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 64: Ghosts of the past

Varanasi Again – 63: Retracing our steps

We exited the Radiology department, and the hospital building, and started to walk towards the Institute building. Vaishali kept talking about the department, about the faculty there in her time, about the academic program, the training, the equipment they had back in her day, while I kept thinking about Lahiri Dada, the Cardiothoracic surgeon who…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 63: Retracing our steps

Varanasi Again – 62: Radiology and more…

We entered through the glass door and, with some help, found ourselves in familiar corridors. First stop was the MRI unit where Vaishali had spent a considerable part of her training, and had done her thesis work on MRCP, Magnetic Resonance Cholangio Pancreaticography or imaging of the biliary tract using MRI. We especially wanted to…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 62: Radiology and more…

Varanasi Again – 61: Urban legends

‘Tell us some stories Papa’, Vandita said. ‘There have to be some stories, some interesting anecdotes from your times, some urban legends that were handed down, or were circulating in the hospital?’ ‘Legends?’, I said, my eyes twinkling,’Yes, I do have some.’ ‘Tell, na…’, the children sang in unison. I laughed and then obliged. ‘When…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 61: Urban legends

Varanasi Again – 60: Change is the only constant

The familiar vista of Asoka lined, two lane, partitioned road greeted us as we entered the university campus through the Lion gate. The gate seemed smaller now, and the roads narrower, than what we seemed to remember. But I guess it is our fond memory of things which make them larger than life, even though…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 60: Change is the only constant

Varanasi Again – 59: And the other places we may go

However, if one does not enter the Singh Dwaar, the Lion gate, and turns left, one may proceed through the narrow lanes to a pontoon bridge which leads one to Ramgarh, an 18th century fort built by the rulers of Kashi, the old name for Varanasi. Also, one can find a large open field, if…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 59: And the other places we may go

Varanasi Again – 56: To the campus

The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel’s sumptuous buffet spread, we made our way to the BHU (Banaras Hindu University) campus in our own car, ditching the common transport arranged for the guests by our hosts. Today’s program was the official alumni function inside the Institute building, followed by lunch and hostel…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 56: To the campus

Varanasi Again – 54: The narrow lanes of Varanasi

We got down from the boat and stood in a loose group on one of the ghats, waiting for someone to guide us to our transportation. Though I had spent nearly a decade in this city, yet, finding my way from the ghats to the main road at this time of the night was well…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 54: The narrow lanes of Varanasi

Varanasi Again – 53: The Ganga Aarti

And then, suddenly, it started to the accompaniment of conches, and cymbals. The ululating sound of the conches, the coordinated cacophony of the cymbals and the resonating boom of the damroo, the one handed drum, symbolic of Shiva, echoed across the dark waters of the river, quickening the pulse of the people who had gathered…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 53: The Ganga Aarti

Varanasi Again – 52: At the Dashashwamegha Ghat

The word ‘Dashashwamegha’ means ‘ten horse sacrifice’ or ‘ten horse ceremony’. The Dashashwamegha yagya, or ceremony, was an elaborate ritual undertaken by Kings of yore towards various ends – begetting an heir, establishing their supremacy over minor kings, pleasing the Gods, among other things. The ghat must have been the site of this ceremony in…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 52: At the Dashashwamegha Ghat

Varanasi Again – 50: On the ‘other’ side

There were no pontoon platforms on ‘the other side’, no jetties, no landing area…..just a turbulent sea of humanity, a riot of colours, a cacophony of sounds, a potpourri of people, equipment, animals…….and loads of trash!!! The barge slowed down, and then came to a complete stop near the eastern bank of the Ganga, its…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 50: On the ‘other’ side

Varanasi Again – 43: A well, a bull and a tree

Historical picture of the Nandi Bull at Kashi Vishwanath Shrine There on the northern side of the quadrangular enclosure around the temple was a tree – a Ficus tree!! Is it……?? My thoughts trailed off……my eyes scanning the area for the other two objects. Yes, there they were – the bull and the small octagonal…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 43: A well, a bull and a tree

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 – 5: The blue throat

Ghats of Varanasi

Clang, came the sound as the trident hit the stone steps of the ghat. Clang! Issued the report, shattering the deathly silence of the night, reverberating across the ghat, and echoing over the dark waters of the Ganga. Clang, clang, clang, clang…..on and on, the sound of heavy metal against the aged stones of the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 5: The blue throat

The Reunion XXVI: Dinner with Family and Friends

That night’s dinner was in the hotel itself, which was a relief since none of us had the strength to go anywhere else after the day’s excursion. We had rested a little after coming back to the hotel and then had started getting dressed. I felt happy. My little talk with Hanumanji, the stone deity,…… Continue reading The Reunion XXVI: Dinner with Family and Friends