Varanasi, the ghats and the Ganges, the chants and the music, the heat, the traffic - a big place after small Khajuraho for over two months.
Varanasi in the company of an Indian was good, really good. Riskshaw drivers, business men, Indian people in general, couldn't cheat me. The hotel was owned by a friend of his friend; that's how we chose it. We got a deal for the room and Vijay found a hotel for me in Nepal through this contact. He explained to me how the cheating of tourists works here, what important points I will have to keep in mind to take care of myself. But a white person in the company of an Indian clearly was standing out, from the looks we got. Usually white people are in the company of Indians only for the time that they will be cheated. But I was not, and I do really understand my luck. Khajuraho boys especially are considered 'big cheaters', but it seems my friend really is one of the most honest and bighearted of his kind. I am lucky.
And we met my new violin teacher. On the first day we met him in one of the (numerous!?) German bakeries, and the night he was also playing bhajans in a town hall type venue and so we went so I could hear him play. It was so weird, because mainly at first it was a religious talk that clearly didn't attract any tourists. Again I was the only one white person in this big town hall, and many were looking at me. W left early, as soon as I had heard a little extract of my teacher's skills, and when the rain had stopped. Following day, that's yesterday, I had my first 'Indian style' violin lesson. We went to his house, through the narrow, narrow streets of the city. He had so many prizes and pictures on his walls; the whole family are musicians. We started promptly - new posture, new tuning, and scales to practise everyday whilst I will be in Nepal before I come back to Varanasi next week.
Kathmandu, Nepal. Just one hour's flight. Full of tourists. The Nepali rupee is even cheaper than the Indian rupee. The Nepali face is a cross between the Indian face and the Tibetan face. Nepali sounds a little like Hindi but with a more oriental feel. The script is the same so I can still practise my reading everywhere on the signs in the streets. It's clearly close to India but it feels different. It is a lot cooler for a start; I can wear my jumper and trainers and it is a lovely break from the Indian heat. It was nice to see the Himalayas from the plane window. I have hardly seen Kathmandu yet but it is big and pleasant. There are Tibetan shops everywhere.
Still right now I don't really want to be here. I was tired when I arrived. I slept a lot this afternoon. I feel a little better now. But my heart is in India; clearly I am not interested in tourism or 'country shopping' however interesting a new country may be... I need a reason to visit a new place. My reason is the new visa... I will go to the Indian embassy tomorrow early morning.
A note on my three blogs
A note on my blogs
(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...
(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!
(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.