Varanasi is a famous Indian city. It is here the Indians bring their dead loved ones and either burn them in pyres on the banks of the Ganga (Ganges) river, or wrap them is beautiful cloth and set them adrift down the river.
Arriving in Varanasi marks the end of our 22-day tour. I am excited to get back to the backpacking travel we’re used to on this trip: cheap hotels, rougher food. But I am also nervous about dealing with the transportation back to Delhi and wherever else we choose to go in our remaining 10 days in India.
First off, Kathy and I went into the heart of Varanasi to check out hotels. We struggled to find something right for us. In the end we chose one that I think will work well for us. Kathy was skeptical. I told her we could always move if this doesn’t work out. The room is a bit worn, but it’s a pretty big room on the top-floor with a balcony overlooking the Ganga. It’s right in the middle of the action in a traveler friendly hotel with a nice courtyard eating area. The only issue is the air conditioning is broken. Management said it would be fixed today or tomorrow. Of course it never got fixed.
The room has a ceiling fan and lots of windows and doors to open but it turned out to be just too damn hot to make airflow matter. I know an old trick I learned in Bangkok years ago about taking a cold shower and then lying under a ceiling fan naked and shivering while the water evaporates from my body. Sadly, when I ran the cold water it came out hot! Both hot and cold were hot. The staff, those Indians who speak very little English and who like to carry bags and collect baksheesh, rarely can deal with anything unexpected. So when hot came out of cold, the staff could do little more than repeat my test. They left. No follow-up, of course.
When Kathy went to the office to request the usual: toilet paper, more towels, extra bed, pillow and the like, the man said if you let the water run a long time it will turn cold. Go figure!!! Just the opposite of what happened to us in Jaiselmer. Indeed, he was right. Turns out the water pipes are just baked by the sun and our top floor room water runs a long way through these pipes.
All this leads up to the biggest surprise of our trip. Kathy’s mom’s health is deteriorating fast so she has decided to fly home either from here or Bangkok – which is just a week away.
She won’t take John because she knows he’ll be bored out of his mind at her mom’s house plus she wants to focus on her mom. So now what? I don’t see how I can remain in SE Asia with the two kids. I need another adult for many critical safety things. Leaving the kids alone in strange, public places would make me too uncomfortable. And without doing this, I don’t know how I’d go to the bathroom, climb the million stairs in search of a hotel, etc.
Our first night in Varanasi was a night not to forget.
First of all, we got a room with no air conditioning (by mistake). So we were hot all day, cooling off every so often with an icy shower. But now it is time for bed and we are still hot.
So we get in our beds with the fan on high speed (all it is doing is blowing the hot air around) and drape wet towels on our legs. That might have worked for my dad but it only got me wet, no cooler. I still gave it a try and so every time I woke up I went into the bathroom, re-wet my town, and tried to sleep again.
But, if the heat wasn’t bad enough, there was also the loud chanting/singing going on just down the street. With bells and shouting and so much commotion. And if you think that was all bad, adding to the heat and singing were the dogs having a party of their own. Howling, and yapping, and barking, and wining….it was all too much. AND to top it all off, my bed was the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on.
Luckily the next night we changed rooms, got A/C and a new cot for me. I slept much better from then on!
Mom is going home in five days. Dad is thinking about bringing the whole family home because it would not be fun without mom. She is going home because Oma is sick. Oma has a tumor in her abdomen. Tom, Mom’s brother, says we can stay at his place till we get our house back. Dad needs a little time to let it sink in. He is really sad. I am also really sad. I begged Mom to let me come home with her but she said no. Mom isn’t looking for plane tickets yet. I just hope Oma is still alive when I get home.