Khajuraho to Varanasi

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Khajuraho






After 4 weeks apart, Angus and I were reunited. Coconut and banana lassis and masala parathas on one of Khajuraho's roof terraces, with a backdrop of the spectacular temples carved with the spectacularly erotic (think group orgies with hybrid mythical animals).







1. angusfulton / khajuraho 2015






We caught the overnight sleeper train to Varanasi. Copying the others we converted the seats into bunk beds and everyone tucked up on their bunk under a blanket. For 12 hours the boundaries of your routine merge with the boundaries of the strangers around you; falling asleep with each other and waking up with each other, comfortably, all ages. Sharing breakfast with the family opposite: almond halwa made by their Mum, we sliced up a big papaya. He borrowed my shoes to go to brush his teeth with his daughter. Different to the most popular impermeable individual bubble of personal space and routine in the UK. ('We wouldn't want those people we don't even KNOW to be around us while we sleep!!!…')






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There are so many words to describe Varanasi but also none at all. 2 weeks became some sort of ride through consecutive dream-like happenings, timed to the irregular pace of the swinging cow-shit tail. Learning quickly that it is the water buffalo, all almighty head and horns, that rule the roads, pavements, and the tiny, narrow lanes. From one end of the ghats to the other, each ghat for something different: washing, bed-sheet drying, card game playing, chai sipping, body burning, spiritual blessings, weddings, dancers with sticks spinning bike wheels on their bald heads and belly buttons, square paper kite flying very very high, fishing, boat building, gurus and students, sleeping, pissing, massaging, hair cuts and wet shaves, cricket games, cobras in baskets, schools of young boys with shaved heads doing yoga, anonymous items falling from above, etc etc etc etc etc...






Varanasi






  Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Varanasi






Turning the corner to a chanting drum procession, we flattened ourselves into a doorway, corpse passing on a wooden stretcher wrapped in orange and gold with a fruit and flowers centrepiece. Via channels that wind through house-high piles of wood; wood for weighing on greatbighuge metal scales and making a bonfire on top of your corpse. Sandalwood if you can afford it. Catch the odd nose-full of au-de-burning-human-flesh in the breeze and everyone (apart from the odd awkward Westerner) doing the same kinda stuff you'd see at most of the other ghats. Seemingly relaxed about the stomach that just exploded. Dogs and goats keep warm by the cremational fires. But no women. Women aren't allowed since too many threw themselves into the flames, or got pushed by their families(?!?!...). Bulls block stairwells and trump any Monmouth Show prize-winners. The vacuum packed pelvic water buffalo arses, gleaming silvery brown in the sun as their herder leads them back up the ghat steps after a swim. The arses are mesmerising and we tried to resist running our hands over them like perverts. Twisting out of the current through the old town maze, we ducked into a cubby hole for papaya and coconut lassis. They were served in lovely terracotta cups/pots that we tried to hand back once we'd finished but the seller, with a disinterested flick of his arm, signalled that we should smash them down a hole in the pavement.






  Varanasi






Varanasi






6. angusfulton / varanasi 2015






3. angusfulton / varanasi 2015






Across the Ganges from Varanasi city, is a vast, empty sand bank, distant trees and fields. A lone horse galloped. The Ganges is Varanasi's magic mirror, reflecting its opposite back at it. The Ganges that changed colour as the sun set, from luminous blue to sandy yellow. Bob, bobbing along, a bloated dead goat, and the little flames in flower bowls.






  4. angusfulton / varanasi 2015






Varanasi







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