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visitors since May 12, 2002
August 29, 2002
The Taj Mahal
(Yet another installment. We're definitely getting closer to Dum Dum.)

When I first saw the Taj Mahal it seemed surprisingly small. By the time I left, something like five hours later, it seemed huge. It's the most beautiful building I've ever seen. If you're anywhere near it, go and see it. Take someone you love. Stay as long as you can. It's a long journey to get there, and it's worth it.

The river of life, death and washing

Varanasi was wonderful. Alipali found a sensational hotel right by the river, which meant that we had wonderful views and no traffic noise. I think that's what I most liked about Varanasi: the absence of traffic noise. The old part of the city has very narrow streets, so anything much wider than a motorcycle can't get in.

As a result, Varanasi still looks much as it did a century ago. Which is as it should be: it's India's holiest city, the place where devout Hindus come to die. The Ganges flows through Varanasi, and carries away the corpses that are burnt in the ghats on the banks. It's very common to see charred body parts floating downstream. Despite this, the Ganges is also the local swimming pool, and the local laundry. Every morning thousands of people bathe in the river, and hundreds of people do their washing. All of life is in India. And all of death. And most of the world's washing.

One night Alipali and I were coming back from a restaurant when the entire city was hit by a blackout. At the time we were about halfway back to the hotel, but it suddenly became impossible to find it. We stood there for a moment in pitch blackness - a very uncomfortable sensation in an Indian city - and then tried to find our way back by touch.

We stumbled slowly forward until we touched a wall, and then we followed it with our hands. "How do we know we're going in the right direction?" I asked, and Alipali immediately said "Sean, we don't. We're in India. We don't know where we're going in the middle of the day."

One of the walls I touched seemed unusually warm. It also seemed unusually mobile, and unusually furry. It turned out to be a water buffalo. Calmly, I leapt backwards forty or fifty feet, and managed to land on the doorstep of the right hotel. The owner was just inside the door with a supply of candles, so I borrowed one to go out and find Alipali. She wanted to know how I'd gotten past her, and I had to tell her the embarrassing truth. Inspired by my ancient fear of accidentally touching a water buffalo in a darkened Indian street, I'd flown.

     Posted by Sean Hegarty at 11:54 PM in the Dog Biscuit category | Comments (0)
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