Monday, 19 January 2009
Day 7-8 and conclusion
Day 7 (14 January 2009): Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) to Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Thank the Force; my flight back to Varanasi was not cancelled, though it was one hour late for technical reasons. That’s okay! I still prefer to wait than having it cancelled! As much as I wish I could extend my stay in Khajuraho, I needed to return back to Australia, and Varanasi was my exit gate. However, I will definitely visit Khajuraho again in the future. Hopefully.
In the evening, I planned to go to Ma Gangga to watch the Makara Sankranti (winter solstice) ceremony, but I was a bit late. The plane from Khajuraho arrived late in Varanasi, hence I was tired and hungry, and to avoid gastritis attack, I had to abandon my evening visit to the Gangga. I changed course to the adjacent Canton Surya Restaurant and had one of the best fish curry ever. Yumm… And the chai… oh my God… delicious!
Day 8 (15 January 2009): Varanasi to Bangkok
Since I never made it to Gangga River during the sunrise, I made up my mind to wake up extremely early and go to see the sunrise aarti. I woke up before 5am, getting a bit disoriented, but then was soon ready to go to the river. I arrived by 6am, when the fog was still floating above the water, creating surreal images of devotees plunging and taking shower in the Great River.
I bought a small garland of flower for INR 5 and then did my own aarti: doing pooja (prayers) and singing bhajan (spiritual songs). Afterwards, I took some pictures of the surroundings, including of this priest, who did a rather long aarti for more than 20 minutes. Gotta love that cobra-shaped fire holder, or whatever that name was. All in all, a very satisfying trip to wrap up my visit to India.
My flight to Bangkok took off a bit late (again) that day, about 30 minutes later than the 16:35 ETD. The airplane was full, and almost 50% of the passengers got either flu or cough, which made my case worse. The flight from Bangkok to Sydney was even worse in terms of health; I woke up two hours en route Sydney with a sore throat and hardly could speak. What a gift from India! Oh well… I do feel rather enlightened from the short trip to the Bharat, so it should balance the sore throat.
I was rather pleased with my first visit in India, but I am also so glad to leave the dust and smokes of Varanasi behind me. Really, I had lots of laundry to do as I return to Australia… but I don’t really mind. And herewith are the bad, good, and best things I had or happened to me in India, in that order.
Dust, smoke, and unorganised tips. Tipping is very confusing here… seems every people want to have a tip from you, even just because they open the door for you. I have headache because of that. And the dust and smoke was nothing like I’ve experienced elsewhere… but since the pollution in Varanasi and Bodhgaya is considered the worst in India, at least I’ve gone through the worst. Next time when I visit Ma Gangga again, it will be upstream: Risikesh, Haridwar, or the like.
Easy: shopping and food. Gotta love those silks… and that beautiful deep blue Kashmiris shawl embroidered with flowers of myriad colours. And the statues… oh… beautiful, gorgeous statues… many of which seem to have life of their own…And books… cheap great books… Also… Khajuraho and the unique life of Gangga River, despite her pollutions.
Super easy. Spending time with my Guruji Anand Krishna, and also with His Holiness Dalai Lama. What else? I don’t think I will ever be this lucky in the future, hence that extremely expensive return ticket to India is paid off. Thank the Existence for that. And here’s to the hope that the little rays of enlightenment will remain in my heart and grows bigger and brighter as soon as possible, enveloping me with its golden light.
Pic 1: Khajuraho airport. Clean eh? I won't post the Varanasi airport here. It will shock you.
Pic 2: Sunrise aarti at the bank of Gangga River