Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Day 9 in Varanasi...

There is a term here in Varanasi for sadhus who choose as part of their penance to stay in Varanasi till the end of their days. The term is "Kashivashi" and I believe that I have become one!! I am quite "stuck" at the moment here and don't really know when I plan to leave! I have gotten into the city and the hecticness of the city before has slowly ebbed away into a faint memory. Yes it still is as hectic as before but I understand how the city operates and have gotten to know many people here thanks to Martin. Penelope and I spend much time eating, drinking chai, and wandering the markets before retiring to bed for a lazy afternoon nap. I've gotten used to this slow day and have become much more relaxed as a result. We attempted a yoga class on Sunday morning which was a complete gong show...the woman who obviously had many years experience started us us with intense side balancing postures, a 8 minute sun salutation that included possibly every ashtanga asana (and expected us to memorize it after one trial...madness!!), and a really wierd 1 minute meditation where we joined the other class and laughed as hard as we could. The man leading it had horrible teeth that were all rotten and sticking out everywhere so that made me and P laugh more than anything. Wierd.

The night before, we got all dressed up and went to see a concert at the International Music Ashram. About 2 minutes in Martin starting laughing hysterically which then set me and Penny off. We spent 45 minutes in absolute hysterics shaking and sweating with uncontrollable laughter, and had to leave the second the intermission started. Ahh good times!!

Martin arranged for us to go to the Muslim quarter on Sunday to go visit a local family and see how silk saris are made. It was really humbling to see how hard they work to create these silk saris which are all done on hand looms. It takes 2 days to create, and then the sari is passed onto the women who then embroider intricate designs. This often takes 5 days, and then the sari is packaged off and sold to the market. Penny and I even got an opportunity to handstich some sequins onto the sari! We got treated like royalty at the house with a non-stop flow of deliciously sweetened chai, gooey balls of gulab jaman, biscuits, and little onlookers coming by to shyly have a peek at us white girls. It was a real experience, and I am so thankful to Martin for setting up this visit. Him and Penny each bought a sari, but I didn't as I had already bought one from Prem's shop. I still have to find an occasion to wear that new one plus all the others ones I have!!

I'm slwoly thinking about moving on by the end of the week to Agra. I only have 1 month left here and I have to hit a majority of the Rajastan so I need to start planning...

1 comment:

usha said...

Kashivashi Ashley: great reading on your quest for Shanti...methinks you've had a glimpse. Looking forward to your Rajasthan logs.