Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday - Saturday: Varanassi!

Friday, March 25, 2011 – Kanha Morning/Transport to Jabapur/Overnight Train to Varanassi

Since the last entry we got went to the train station and got on the train. It was one of those feelings I will definitely not forget. It was like something straight out of a movie. So dirty, and cramped, and filled with flies, and people sleeping on floors, and climbing through windows into the trains. The trains would come through and smell so bad and we couldn’t figure out why… then we looked down. The trains “bathrooms” are holes in the ground and the poop and pee just falls through and hits whatever is under it. So, the whole station is just filled with human fecal matter on the groudJ how appetizing, eh?
We were the only lighter skinned people in the station and then a group of five backpackers ran up to us and asked for help. I felt bad for them but at the same time it was so funny. They spotted us and relief flooded their faces, like “Oh, white people! They can help us!” It made me appreciated being here with our professors and guides and not just backpacking here for sport… I think I’ll stick to Europe or the West for that.
The train is quite the experience. Thankfully, ours is a nicer one that is more for middle to upper class people to ride. This ride is a 12 hour one, so we are going to sleep in shifts so that we can watch each other and our stuff. None of us want to split up so w crammed eight people into four seats and have been playing cards all night. We just ate our boxed dinners from the hotel but nobody really ate. I think we are all just sick of Indian food. It isn’t even that it is bad or too spicy, I really loved it at first. I was actually surprised by how much I liked it and adapted to it (for the most part). But, it is just all the same after a while, lots of carbs and spice. All we do is plan the order of things we are going to do when we get back Tuesday… shower, eat, workout, shower, eat, shower, sleep. You get the idea.
Anyways, we are entertaining each other for now until we get to the cities. Everyone is so excited, (with the exception of a few Debbie’s… but everyone ignores them anyways J) which helps keep the momentum going for us who have been here all month and are exhausted.
Okay, so now it's bed time.. we were supposed to spread out and go find each of our bunks. That lasted all of five minutes and we came running back to each other! It's not fun being alone with your luggage (okay, we weren't alone, just not right next to each other). So we all crammed into one "compartment". We have the funniest pictures of all of us in little twin beds and scrunched under suitcases and floors. We look like we are in a concentration camp or something. Anyways, no sleep for us due to the uncomfortable circumstances and creepy Indian men next to us that we are convinced will steal our stuff!

The rest of this will be very short since I didn't pretype it.
Saturday: we get to our beautiful hotel and set out (without showering) to go see Buddhism world heritage sites. They were very cool and serene? I guess that's the best word for it. We got to see monks doing all sorts of celebrations there which made it even more moving. Religion is such a powerful tool and one can learn from every religion on earth. I think that may be one lesson I have learned the most while being here. Takako, a japanese Clemson allumi, is with us right now on the trip. She actually founded Tigers for Tigers in SC. She has been here trying to pass a tiger conservation law since February 27th, so she has watched her country, family, and friends suffer via television. Anyways, she is Buddhist, and today was her first time at these sites that are so viral to her beliefs. It was amazing to see her strength and belief in her spirituality as she prayed on the stupa and broke down in the most graceful and strong way a person could. It's inspiring what she has done for all of us and made me realize how lucky we are to have her to learn from. I wish I could put this into words better, I guess it's a "had to be there" moment?
Anyways, after Buddha time it was spa time.. sorry whoever's gift money that was.. my pedicure was more important than your Indian goods:)
Next, we went to the Ganges River to experience one of the coolest religious ceremonies I think on the planet. Every night 70,000 people come to the river to watch a group of priests dance and pray while they let candles and flowers out towards the water. We got to watch from a boat, which made the whole scene even more awesome. My pictures and video will help explain the situation, but it was nuts that literally EVERY NIGHT all those people come out and do this. 

4:45am wakeup call tomorrow to go back to the river and watch a funeral... should be interesting. :)

here are a few pics from the past week, i don't have much from today cause i haven't uploaded all of them!

holi pre-fest

holi mid-fest, we thought it was the end.. HA!

the almost finished holi:)

just for you daddy, a white-breasted kingfisher

our beautiful momma:)

oh you know, just some tribal dancing

Georgia, Dr. Tonkyn, and I?

Me letting my candle in the Ganges River

1 comment:

  1. OK so maybe I want to experience the holi festival-it looks like a celebration that the Campolo clan and company, could partake in and succeed! Tomorrow's activities from your canoe (or boat) ride, to observing the rituals of India's culture and how they celebrate a person's life, sounds serene. Please soak it all in so that you will be able to share it with me.
    The tiger needs to be in a cage... at least when you are in the vicinity!
    l love you