5:30am, still dark, on a paddle-boat in the fog on the Ganges. The sky and river melt together in a thick, velvety grey. Just the dunking of the oars into the still surface. Nothing else. No focal point or sense of perspective, we've all been swallowed by the velvet grey and we're slowly paddling down its never-ending throat. Smooth peace on continuous repeat, with a dunking oar for a heartbeat. Directly above us, a small, suggestive circle of bright blue. 






Varanasi






Varanasi






Through squinted eyes and tightly shut mouths we pushed through swarms of mosquitos along the ghats at night, hopping around dark mounds of things that could have been sleeping people, to a traditional Dhrupad music concert, 5 ghats down the river. We pulled off our shoes and sat on a big white sheet on the floor, decorated with splatted mosquitos.




Varanasi






Varanasi






In Varanasi we volunteered at a little hostel where we painted walls and ceilings with murals, and took care of the hostel's newly adopted street dog and her litter of puppies, in return for bed and food. One afternoon Angus disappeared into the city on the back of a motorbike to help one of the hostel workers, Sunil, with a mysterious favour. At lunchtime on every day of our stay, Sunil sought us out from wherever we were in the hostel, to share his lunch with us. We'd bring food to share but he was always insistent that we eat more than him, to the point where, despite us giving the tiffin tins back to him with enough left inside for him (hoping not to offend him, stumbling our way around Indian selflessness), it began to seem like his wife was making a delicious lunch every day just for Angus and I. Over a tiffin tin of spicy peas and chapatis he told us that Monday night we were to go to his home for dinner, to meet his wife, his mother, his father, his brother, his sister, his grandma, his grandpa, all of his uncles, their wives and their children. His wife would cook for us, some rice, chapati, vegetables and dhal… We spent the week looking forward to it.



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