Even if I stay in India a million years, I don’t think I will ever understand much, and sometimes, honestly, my brain doesn’t even want to understand. But I will see how that progresses. There is always something small, something fascinating, to read up on, like certain stories involving the intricate love life of the gods and goddesses, or the meaning of symbols. It’s an amazing, exciting surface to scratch. And it is possible to meaningfully interact with that surface as well. I will not try to pretend I understand what’s going on here. I can just say how some little things affect me.
I have to admit that the relentless heat meant that I don’t have any photos of all those crazy markets, shops, busy streets where I saw thousands of photos that should have been taken – had I not been in a tuktuk or rickshaw. There is a limit to how far I can walk in this heat.
Cows, murals, prayers, I said, as it is a holy city, and these are three colourful aspects. First I was really scared of these huge animals so up close sometimes, like sneaking up on me from behind, or coming straight at me, I never had such close contact with such enormous beasts roaming freely. But now I’m used to their pace and determined gaze, poor things, trying to survive as best as they can. They don’t particularly enjoy the heat, but I don’t remember seeing them in the river.
Some of the murals are really pretty, or just thought-provoking.
And prayers are everywhere, all the time.
I’m glad I’m out. And I’m glad I went there. Several people told me I’m crazy. And I know. But now I really hope everything else will appear calm(er), clean(er), just slightly less overwhelming. My tactics might have worked.
First, these are some photos from the steps by the river, called ghats.
Old city, early morning, before cleanup….
Temple view from my guesthouse.
That intense jasmine scent reminded me so much of Yangon. The marigolds are used for ceremonies, just like in Bali.
This mural went up overnight for the “Bollywood” movie I mentioned before. Unfortunately, I didn’t see them shoot, just a few dozen people trying to set up equipment.
As the wind caught the man’s robe, I caught my breath – somehow the scene reminded me of Jesus and his disciples in a boat. – They are pilgrims taking a ride to the other side, where it is cleaner to take a holy bath. They were more than 200 metres away when I took this photo and this is the best zoom I can do with my camera.
A priest showed me these statues – he stays all day at the riverbank to give blessings to people.
I tried to “stare down” this animal to get a head-on picture. I was too slow and it got out of my way.
Downtown “high street” fashion, food and temple. This is very busy in the evenings and closed for traffic.
I’m really struggling to understand what makes this game fun….
Art students on the ghat
This is as close as outsiders are allowed to the cremation ghats.
And one more chance to see the evening prayers, at full moon, with thousands of Hindu pilgrims from other parts of India around. These rituals are performed every night by five or seven young priests at this location, and each move has a significance, to purify the surroundings with the power or air, fire and water. Small candle-boats are released by devotees. Like my beloved loy krathong at home, just every day.
Youtube has some professionally made videos of this ceremony, just search for “Ganga aarti”. Really worth checking out for anyone interested in rituals.