Friday, 9 May 2014

... Crouch With Tigers, Hide With Dragons: Inspiring India

No one in their right mind should be running on 2 hrs sleep. This is one of the reasons I gave up shift work after coming to my senses that I am not actually superhuman nor a vampire and that I do need sleep. Yet today I am still somehow functioning, albeit barely, after being unable to sleep (not planned) and a 4am alarm (planned).

After seeing the sun set from a boat on the Ganges you have to follow it up with a sunrise. This is what I was trying to convince myself as I made sure I hadn't put my trousers on backwards whilst half asleep. It didn't take much convincing despite the fact that you've got to get up early in the morning. The sunrise was picturesque and another highlight in the otherwise dusty and chaotic city of Varanasi. Colours unravel in front of your eyes as this glistening orange ball of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields emerges from below the horizon and the clouds change colour against the sky all providing quite the ethereal quality of the morning. Unless I had seen them with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it but fish actually live in the river. Every now and then they'd leap out of the water to catch insects. Still, I'm not about to try any fish dishes here any time soon. Although, what this river represents and what goes on here is likely inexplicable to many, you really do feel the peace and tranquillity here.

I probably should've had a nap after breakfast but of course I didn't.

Located about 10km outside of Varanasi, Sarnath is one of four primary pilgrimage sights for those interested in the history of Buddhism. Buddha spent most of his life in what is now India. Buddhists revere four historical sites associated with Buddha’s life: the place of his birth, the place where he achieved enlightenment, the site where he preached his first “sermon” following his enlightenment, and the location of his death. Now referred to as the "Deer Park", Buddha preached his first sermon, known as the "Turning the Wheel of Dhamma", to his followers at Sarnath. There is apparently a very interesting small museum adjacent to the park area but it was unfortunately closed on Fridays. However, the park itself more than sufficed with the main Stupa serving as the focal point. It's an interesting site and surprisingly quiet. It's worth a trip out in a tuk tuk.

And so my time is India is almost at an end. This past fortnight has been a frazzling, chaotic, epic journey with frayed nerves, confronting poverty and disease (polio, elephantiasis, dogs), wonderful colours, fragrant foods and amazing sights all adding to the experience. India has the ability to inspire, thrill, frustrate and perplex you all at once.... and I've loved every single minute of it. Don't be put off by tales of "I hated India, you will hate it too". Come with no expectations and an open mind then you will be rewarded beyond your travel dreams. Don't be a tourist, be a traveler! Barring any final "mishaps" I didn't get sick once but I'm definitely craving some fruit n' veggies minus spices!

So (sushi) roll on Tokyo before I head home to Vancouver on the 14th back to my furkids & crazy pseudo Canuck life.

Thank you India, it has been a blast!

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