It's a creekmore world

India Day 4-5 Astonishing pollution and morning rituals of the Varanasi ghats.

India Day 4-3Emma, like her mom Trish, does not seem affected by jet-lag.  She just goes to bed when she is ready and falls asleep.  Lily, sadly, is like me and we have both been hit by jet-lag worse than usual.

I’ve been going to bed at 10 and getting up at 2:30 for two nights now, and I can tell Lily too is online in her room next door.  It might be a long day for us.  Emma is surely asleep, probably snoring.

My white breakfast.

My white breakfast.

What do I do from 3 am till 7?  Mostly I read a book of science fiction short stories and fiddle with photos.   We have breakfast at 7am as they open – it’s not very good but we find a few things to eat.

Lily has the hardest time.  She doesn’t like breakfast food generally.  At home she likes left-over dinner or a can of soup for breakfast more than toast or eggs or pancakes. Bad Indian hotel breakfast food is inedible.

Splendor card game in the lobby with lots of laughter.

Games in the lobby with lots of laughter.

I brought a new game we like, called Splendor and we play that for a few hours.  It’s fundamentally and economic game where you build the components to get more components and win.  Emma and I liked it a lot, Lily was the best at it but it wasn’t her favorite.

By 11 am LIly and I are so exhausted we can’t think, so we lie down.  But they aren’t really naps, they are deep sleeps that go on for hours.  By 3pm we get up painfully, like it’s the middle of the night. I feel worse – not rested at all.  Coffee doesn’t even help.  But if we continue to sleep we’ll really mess up.

India Day 4-13Today is just a bust.  We walk to the local mall and take a look around.  Emma is hungry and gets fries, and I find some coffee.  Little kids panhandle but they look pretty well clothed, I wonder what their lives are like hanging out at the mall in a ‘rich’ suburb of Varanasi. I can’t imagine.

We play a little more Splendor and find a restaurant behind the hotel that’s pretty good.  The restaurant is empty but they serve up some good Indian food and of course bread.

India Day 4-2I wake up at 3am.  Sigh.  This is getting old.  I have to break this pattern.  Luckily we planned to get up at 4:30 for a final trip on the Ganges.  This time the roads are so quiet compared to the day before.

We get there in half the time, and our little moto-tuk-tuk can drive all the way into the alleys.  We pass these cows and I stop to get a photo.

We get a smile from Lily.

We get a smile from Lily.

The Ganges in the morning is a little quieter.  We walk along a long hallway with several emaciated old men lying, a few reading.  I assume they are among the many that come here in old age and poverty for salvation.  I wonder what their life is like?  Again I can’t imagine.

I hate the haggling for price especially over a few dollars so I take the first offer – $15 for an hour boat ride.  The sun is just coming over the horizon and it’s a deep orange through the smoky haze.

India Day 4-4Today is overcast and there might be rain, which would officially start the monsoon season. That makes it cooler, which we appreciate.   It’s been a long hot dry season and the dirt is caked on every surface.  I don’t know how the plants get enough sunlight to grow.

All along the ghats people are bathing, some just to clean and some to perform ritual ablutions, the most common of which is to cup some of the water in your hand and lift it overhead while pouring it back into the Ganga, as it’s locally known.

India Day 4-6The trash and pollution is even more apparent in sunlight, but the bathers are undeterred.  By the time we return the numbers of people on the Kedar ghat from which we departed are 10 fold more.

I spot a dead floating dog in the water and I can’t help but ask myself ‘What the hell is happening here?’  Why are people swimming with rotting carcasses?’   It makes me grateful for what we have.  At the same time, I feel like India has the capacity to support a cleaner Ganga and the people here deserve that.  Am I being a judgmental westerner? Maybe it’s harder than I know…

India Day 4-8We eat our final breakfast at the not-so-great restaurant and order a taxi to the airport with our tuk tuk driver who gave us fair deals.  It starts to rain just as we leave.

I’ve been up for almost 10 hours and am getting tired, but the cold airport air conditioning and freezing plane keep we awake.  As we arrive in Kajuraho I hope I will break this jet lag cycle tonight.

India Day 4-5