Varanasi (Benaras) a mystical bohemia. I have visited this city from time to time..at critical junctures! Every time the memories have been vivid. One in common trait is how the city evolves at one level & at the same time preserves the timeless rituals from times immemorial.
This time too the abundance factor was reinstated. Abundance of cattle, dharamshalas, lanes and by lanes, foreign nationals, ghats, eateries & ofcourse the sadhus. The city holds a vivid picture of the concrete jungle trying to overpower the traditional & arcade structures everywhere. The ghats which used to invite with serenity now invite with commodities and rush. Where time used to standstill, now everyone is in a rush to get somewhere, move onto the next thing, the next tourist, the next boat ride, the next family to offer last rites. This has it’s own fiasco element for a traveler visiting to unwind & with no agenda to tick off!
But I miss a lot more then I can cherish from this trip. Walking down memory lane I recall seeing erudite pandits(scholars) reciting Vedas and Upanishads. The ghats used to be the epicentre for pehelwans (wrestlers/strong men) who would workout from morning to dusk. Touts would speak in a concoction of bengali & bihari to attract you to their boats, stores, for guided tours, etc. Locals used to perform surya namaskar (sun salutation) half submerged in the ganga with the sunrise. All these are are so vivid and crisp in my mind that a sense of melancholy carves a niche.