Sunday, November 2, 2008


Varanasi is home to 80 ghats - literally "steps" - leading down to the Ganges. I hesitate to attempt any comparison to any sort of public space at home... the ghats accomodate anything and everything that happens in the street in the US, plus a whole lot more. We had lunch today at a great resturant overlooking Manasarowar Ghat and just a quick glance at the scene below included a temple with saddhus (holy men), men gambling, kids swimming in the Ganges, cows, cow pats drying in the sun in perfectly straight rows, water buffalo taking a dip (very near the swimming kids), boat wallahs waiting for customers, women selling various things, a public works project (no idea the goal - some guy was spraying the mud with a fire hose...), tourists, and families out for a walk.
We're trying to visit all of the ghats while we're here, on as many seperate occasions as possible. One could of course just start at one end of the city and walk all the way to the other, but that's no fun. In order to get to the ghats you have to wind your way through galis (pronounced "gullies", which is an apt image) and that's the most wonderful adventure.
So far we've racked up 3 ghats. At each ghat our goal is to befriend a local kid and take a picture with him or her. Our kids are a bit skittish around unfamiliar kids here, especially those who might be beggars or street kids or whatever, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but making friends at the ghats feels like a good way to balance the pretty big defence shield we have to have up at other times. We've had a lot of fun with it so far, as you can see....

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