I can't remember where I left it off. I think we had arrived in Khajuraho; this was on 17th I think. We we were home again, Niko, Vijay and I. We waited a couple of days until our Swiss friends, Tamae, Pierrot and the small Eleo, arrived. We went to pick them up early morning at the train station. Niko and I hadn't seen them for two and a half years, and of course Vijay was meeting them for the first time. It was fun to meet in Khajuraho. With us they could avoid the overwhelming tourist-catchers and Khajuraho-boys. We directed them to the hotel nearest to Vijay's house, and once their bags were dropped we went for some breakfast. The usual, delightful spinach omelette on toast for me, with a compulsory chai of course. Eleo is a small boy now; he was only 6 months last time we had seen them. He was exhausted by the train journey (hardly had slept) but he was very funny and in a good mood. And so we spent a few wonderful days with our Swiss friends. It's rare and a special treat to have some European friends share my Indian life, even though we had met Tamae in India five years ago. They shared a glimpse of our Indian family life. Vijay's second sister was here too, with her 1 and 5-year old boys, so I was happy for Eleo. In the end he didn't spend as much time with them as with 9-year old Aman who became his good friend. These two kept playing together, and Aman was always asking for Eleo to come back. Eleo, with his musician-parents, already has a remarkable ear and taste for music. Especially drums and percussion, but also singing. He kept playing rock shows for all the family's amazement and laughter. The Indian family had never seen anything quite like that little boy, and me neither! He had a real audience.
Whilst in Khajuraho we spent much time in the fruit stall, drinking fresh juice and delicious mango shake, whilst Tamae took the place of the fruit-wallah and served very surprised local customers indeed. We visited the Western temple, which I had never seen because when Niko and I had planned to do so five years ago, I had instead been lying in bed, ill. So, finally after five years and over some eight months spent in Khajuraho at least, I visited the most famous and impressive group of Kama Sutra temples. We went to Pipal Ghat, some 45 kilometres away from Khajuraho, and bathed (not fully clothed this time, since we were the only visitors!) in the flowing river before the dark clouds covered the sky and the rain started to pour. And during his stay in Khajuraho, Eleo was the main attraction for the locals! He adapted really well to the Indian environment, a kid of gold, and played a lot with all curious local children. Oh, and of course we celebrated both Vijay and Tamae's birthdays, twice, in the family. The Swiss couple especially enjoyed the Indian birthday tradition, which consist for the birthday boy or girl in putting a piece of cake in all the guests' mouths. I must say I have to agree; it's a fun and very loving tradition!
Too soon it was time for everyone to leave though. On 23th afternoon Niko was taking a train to Delhi then a plane down to Bangalore, for his last three weeks of solo travelling in South India. And that same night the Swiss family and I were leaving to Varanasi. I had to pick up my passport and visa extension at the FRO, and complete the registration process at university – all done now. And the Swiss moved on further in their travels. So we took the train all together – finally the direct train from Khajuraho to Varanasi is in place now, so I can avoid bus journeys and a stop in Satna in the future. For their son the couple had to travel in AC class, so of course I joined them, and I must say I am so used to travelling in sleeper class, that travelling in AC was great luxury! A very quiet train (perhaps because it is a new one also) only filled with foreigners, no sweat, bed sheets and a pillow provided etc. I slept like in my own bed, and I arrived in Varanasi fresh and rested. It was lovely spending a few days with them in my place. Lovely to have them visit my little homely room, and to show them around. Of course Eleo had to try on my violin, which he played like a guitar, like his ukulele. I accompanied them in all the things they wanted to do; buying some Varanasi silk (very interesting for me to observe the bargaining process whilst not involved in shopping!), going to an music instrument shop, visiting an orphanage in view of their future volunteering project, etc. We even managed to get an Indian classical concert (tabla, sitar and Kathak dance) organised just for us, which Eleo listened to and watched with impressive concentration for a three-year old!
The Swiss left yesterday. I am alone in my home again now. I had a very quiet day for the first time after a long time. I played some violin, I watched a newly acquired Hindi film, Monsoon Wedding, and I am writing this. Perhaps I watched a film entitled “Moonsoon something” because again, I am craving for the rain. We had some all-night rain a few days go, and most of the last few days I almost forgot about sweating, because with the rain brings temperature drops by about 10 degrees. Powercuts were not a problem either, a dream. But now again since yesterday, life is back to reality in Varanasi: heat and powercuts. It's OK though, I enjoy a good draft when I open both my doors and if I sit on the floor in the way of the wind. I do have a great room.
I have a new neighbour since yesterday; a Buddhist monk from Thailand named “P”. He will be staying in the next-door room until the winter. He speaks very quietly and I find him difficult to understand at times, but he is very kind and gentle – obviously I guess. He is 30, and he's been a monk since he was 15. He is doing a PhD in Indian Philosophy and Religion (IPR) in BHU. And I have another neighbour for just three days – that's Fernando, the Colombian guy I electronically met a few months ago via a Varanasi group because he needed help to apply for a Masters, also in IPR in BHU but couldn't get in touch with the university. I had been to his department and acquired all the information for him. He was so grateful he brought me some quinoa from Colombia, which I've been excited about ever since he told me he'd bring me some. The quinoa is now on my kitchenette shelf waiting to be enjoyed in the near future. He is a lovely neighbour obviously, although he will not stay very long. We visited BHU together yesterday and he met another friend (and P!) who studies on the same course for information.
And so, I am all settled again in my home in Varanasi. I have another year's visa and I am all registered at BHU; Hindi classes will start mid August. Sukhdev, my violin teacher is coming back from Europe on 11 August, so now I have time until them to visit Vijay and the family again. I am leaving tomorrow.
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.