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Orna's Crazy Adventure

Rest of train journey and Varanasi!

INDIA | Wednesday, 9 November 2011 | Views [500] | Comments [1]

So the rest of my train journey involved Indian men sleeping in the birth below me who would invariably make very loud and revolting burps and other strange unpleasant noises - I should have recorded it. It also involved me reading a very sad and dramatic book which made me use up all my precious tissues that I needed for the toilet!! This book however did get me through the 17 hr train journey - I don't know what I would have done without it!

Turns out I also could have had a very near miss of my station because I got confused with the 24 hour time (can't believe I got confused about 24 hour time!!) and assumed that my scheduled arrival time of 20:00 meant 10pm. Meanwhile, it gets to 7:40pm and I suddenly realise that 20:00 is 8pm not 10pm!!! And I'm thinking whoa I'm lucky cause you need to judge where you are by the time as there are no announcements on the train.

Luckily, I spoke to some Turkish travellers who had been looking out the train door at EVERY stop to check the stations and so they knew that we were actually 40 mins delayed by this time. Meanwhile, we didn't end up getting into Varanasi until 10:30pm anyway so turns out it wouldn't have been a problem if I'd continued to think that 20:00 was 10pm!! 

So, on arrival at this train station that I've been told is in Varansi, I get told by the taxi driver that comes up to me that Varansi is actually a further 1.5 hrs away!!! So I get in his car and his crazy driving ends up causing a stop in traffic and a verbal fight between him and another driver!! And he laughs and says, "is my driving good?" and I respond "um, it's a little scary!!!". Luckily I survived to tell this tale and he dropped me off safely to the closest point that we could get to by vehicle (which meanwhile ended up being 20 mins later, not 1.5hrs as he had said!). Then he carried my backpack the 5-10mins that it took to walk through these tiny alleys to get to the guest house (which is a little dingy but has an amazing view of the ganges at their rooftop restuarant).

Next day I get up and make my way through the alleys to the nearest ghat - Lalita Ghat. And of course I am greeted by a man who tells me he will show me the way along the ghats and he is no guide and wants no money from me (and I'm thinking, yes perhaps no money but I'm sure he has his brother's shop etc etc). So I wonder across with him to the adjasant ghat which happens to be the one where they burn the bodies - talk about an introduction first thing to Varanasi!! It was actually really difficult to get across to this ghat and my "not guide" actually helped because there was so much I don't know what on the ground - water, mud and who knows what!! We had to find stones to step across!! I have never felt before that I may be walking through the most infected muck of my life!!

So we get to the burning body ghat and of course there are more people there waiting to talk to me to get money. And of all things what are they pointing out to me??????? "So there's a dead body, there's an arm in the fire and there's a leg" and I say "YES I CAN SEE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DON"T NEED TO BE POINTING THIS OUT TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!! It was full on enough as it was without them having to litterally point  out to me what was inexplicably obvious!!! So one guy started telling me things I know already and I kept saying I know, I know and then he says, "ok now you give donation to the old people" and I say "I'll do as I please thank you very much!" So this annoyed him! But he left... :)

It is near impossible in India to just sit alone - some Indian person will always be next to you talking - either giving you information which you didn't ask for (which they want money for) or asking, "which country?" before listing off a number of cricket people who I assume are Australian. And of course I'm supposed to be interested in this conversation. Then they always ask if I am married (which of course I say yes to) and then where is my husband (which I alternate to him either being back at the guest house or at home in Australia cause he wasn't able to get any time off work). I can hardly ever get a moment to myself!!

However occasionally you do learn a thing or two from the spontanious guides including that they apparently burn 200-300 bodies in Varansi everyday and they are burning day and night (which means that right now just around the corner from my guest house this is what is happening). But surprisingly there was no stench!

After experience at the burning ghat I kept walking along the river (of course with my "not guide" guiding me) and after a bit I asked him, "don't you need to be by your boat in case there are people wanting a boat ride?" and he says no his brother is there and he has free time now. It can be incredibly frustrating when they want to talk to you all the time!!! And I couldn't even understand what he was saying half the time anyway. All he kept saying was, "I am not guide. I do not want money. Money come and go." He could talk and talk without me saying a word!!!

So we walked along the ghats where some people were bathing, washing clothes and having a massage. And of course there are cows everywhere, and goats too. Actually there was even a cow on the train station platform when I arrived...I haven't seen that before... It must have travelled up and down a lot of sets of stairs to get there just so it could eat the rubbish in the bins!

So after maybe 1.5 to 2 hrs of walking along the ghats with no shade relief and me dripping with sweat and my "not guide" pointing out that I am very tired, I leave him and walk a bit through the the little alleys. Of course this wasn't until after he enlightened me about his brother's handicraft craft which I can come and look at! Of course! And I say no, I'm not interested and leave! Now these alleyways are seriously filled with cows and cow poo and it is impossible not to step in some at some point - everyone had and so it is spread everywhere anyway!! And I was pretty good at shooing away the boys who talked about good karma - SO annoying!!!


I just had a most infuriating phone call from Vodaphone that went something like this:

Vodaphone(V) - Hello I am calling from Vodaphone to see how your internet is going

Me: It's still not working

V: No I am calling about your internet

Me: Yes it's still not wroking. I'm getting error messages 691 and 678

V: So is your problem resolved?

Me: Of course it's not if it's still not working!

V: So can you tell me if you are getting error messages

Me: Yes, 691 and 678.

V: So that is 691 and 678

Me: Yes

v: So where are you now?

me: Varanasi

V: No where are you now?

Me: Yes Varansi!

V: So I would like to meet with you. Where can we meet?

Me: I don;t know, you tell me

V: When are you coming back to Jaipur?

Me: I'm not coming back to Jaipur

V: No, when are you in Jaipur?

Me: I will not be coming back to Jaipur!

V: Oh, well I guess we can't meet.

Me: So are you going to fix my internet? Because I paid for internet and it hasn't been working.

V: Are you still having problems?

Me: Yes!!

V: Ok you call me after some time and I'll look at it.


So I can bet he won't be looking into it!!! Frustrating!!! I think they employ many millions of people in India to do VERY inefficient work!!!

So thats pretty much it for update number 1 in Varansi!





that conversation with vodaphone is GOLD!!!
we are so used to excellent customer service in the west that india is VERY frustrating! hahaha

  Galit Marks Nov 10, 2011 5:37 PM

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