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) 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.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Banaras floods 2013

At the very beginning of August, although it hasn't rained very much in Varanasi this year, the Ganges river burst its banks onto the edges of the Holy City. This is due to the floods which devastated Himachal Pradesh earlier in June...

I went to Khajuraho on 31 July, just missing the floods, and the river retrieved back into its bed. After a few days however, Ganga rose again, dramatically this time and for at least three weeks. The south of the city (Nagwa, Lanka, Samne Ghat) was most deeply affected, with many unfortunate families losing their houses and all their belongings in the floods... Although this was obviously a tragedy for many, some people got very excited by the floods because they had never ever seen anything like it, and I too really wanted to see them. I came back to Varanasi on 28 August, and after dropping my bags home the first thing I did was to go for a wander from Assi Ghat to the Main Ghat to see the river and take pictures...

I firstly walked to see my most familiar landmarks around Assi Ghat. The water had reached the beginning of the lane of my old guesthouse. My mouth dropped open when I saw Ashish Cafe and the Assi steps... After that, on the main road I walked to Shivala, to climb onto the rooftop of my friends' house, who live by the river there. Next I really wanted to see Harischandra Ghat, because it was my first home in Varanasi. I was in total shock when I saw how far up the water had come there... I dared into the dirty water and squeezed into a narrow lane that was still dry; I wanted to see where the cremations were happening, in such little space. But life never stops in India, even in the biggest tragedies, and so the wood was stored in the street, and cremations crammed into a tiny round lane behind some dilapidated family homes by the river. I managed to squeeze past the crowd of watching men onto the side of the lane, somehow, to reach to the river. I had to climb onto mounts of mud and shit and bamboo sticks and lean onto a burning hot stone wall. Three bodies were burning in a 3-meter-squared space; I could hardly breathe.

Like me, many people had come to see the river gone mad, with a mixture of love, admiration and fear. They admired the power of their beloved Mother-River, yet for the first time in their lives it seemed to me that they feared it, as it had devastated many families; and how far up would the waters still rise?... Along my way all the people I met were kind and helpful telling me where the water was least high and which way I could go; helpful in the way that when tragedy happens you're all part of the same boat (no pun intended) and it brings you closer...

It was amazing to see a Varanasi in such a new light, so familiar yet completely different somehow. And fascinating and scary to imagine that below the water it was not sand and stones that lied, but familiar steps, walkways, temples, shops, and houses engulfed into nothingness. Despite the tragedy, people enjoy the novelty this bring into their lives. You see naked kids splashing one another with water on the sides of the road. You try having fun slowly cycling in 50cm-high water without knowing when you'll hit a hole in the road and fall off your bike. If you walk you don't know exactly what you'll meet in the thick dirty waters - cow shit, plastic bags, stones? You see cars and rickshaws producing a wake pattern as though they were boats... Of course the photos I have posted below hardly depict what I have seen with my own eyes...

The water has retrieved considerably since I took these pictures, but God knows what the future brings...


To see the rest of the pictures, click here.

2 comments:

  1. Vio, I'm just seeing this and have to thank you for sharing. I've heard stories before but your connection to varanasi plus the pictures you managed to get in the midst of this new world are truly striking. More power to you sister for living in this magic land of who knows what can happen next!

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