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Home 2006 October (Page 3)
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Finding My Way Out of the Station

Published on October 22, 2006, by in Delhi, India, Trains, Varanasi.

The arrival platform at Varanasi was no less tumultuous and disorderly than the departure venue at Delhi the night before . . . utter, absolute, overwhelming chaos.

 
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The Maze

Published on October 22, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

The free ride in a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw from the Varanasi train station to the Scindhia Hotel was far and away the wildest I’ve ever had in my 73 years of traveling the world. It was a real live version of the roller coaster that many know as “The Mouse.” The driver was the most aggressive I’ve ever seen, passing on the outside of  curves at full speed against oncoming cars, trucks and rickshaws. At some places along the way, the opposing streams of traffic were divided by a low, narrow wall of concrete – which we ignored. At some intersections

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The Ganges River

Published on October 22, 2006, by in Uncategorized.

Standing on an open, stone-surfaced platform that was like a “thrust stage,” jutting out from the buildings to the rear and either side, I confronted great contrasts.

 
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The Scindhia Balconies Above the Ganges

Published on October 22, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

Over the course of my days in Varanasi I learned there are other places to stay along the river. Some of them will appear high up and in the background of photos taken during the Dawn on the Ganges below. But, as the photos here and in other posts demonstrate, none have the broad, open-air balconies that give virtually every Scindhia room these awesome vistas. Click on photos to expand them. For example, look at the range, down and across the Ganges. These are the views directly outside the door to my room. The hotel layout offers one long, common

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The Burning Ghats of Varanasi

Published on October 22, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

Varanasi is widely spoken of as the holiest city of all to the Hindu faithful. Here, the democracy of that faith’s theology – and its contradictions -are evident.

 
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Varanasi and the Ganges from a Balcony

Published on October 22, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

The wide balconies of the Scindhia are the very definition of what American southerners call “a catbird seat,” the perfect spot where one sits just high enough to be un-noticed from below and just enough to the side that you can see faces, not merely the tops of heads. Life on the path and plaza and nearby temples and schools flows as steadily as the river itself.  Directly below to the left, stairs lead down from the heights and continue right on into the river. Next to them is a patch of land that is literally covered in cow dung.

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Dawn on The Ganges

Published on October 23, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

It’s 5 am. The Ganges River tour along the waterfront of Varanasi starts from the bathing ghat directly in front of the guest house, just as the sky to the east begins to lighten sufficiently to reveal the steps down to the water’s edge. The air is calm. This morning, there is a layer of clouds just high enough to be picking up a diffuse pink glow.

 
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Twilight Above the Ganges

Published on October 23, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

Last night at twilight, as I was standing on the balcony of my hotel room, high above the broad sweep of the Ganges River, temple bells were tolling and puffs of the late freshening breeze carried small gusts of distant chanting. (Now tell me, honestly, could there ever be a more promising start to a story than that?) 

 
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A Ganges Morning Album

Published on October 23, 2006, by in Ganges River, India, Varanasi.

No text . . . just an album of what I saw this morning from 6 am until around 8:30am. Click on any photo to enlarge.

 
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The Ineffable Taj Mahal

Published on October 24, 2006, by in Agra, India, Mark Twain, Taj Mahal.

I’m not going to try to describe the Taj Mahal. To do so is impossible. Far better writers than me have said so. Confronted with it at dawn, and then at sunset, and again in the moonlight, Mark Twain declined to describe the monument except in an oblique way. The handful of pages he devotes to the Taj Mahal include the most candid passages he ever wrote about the limits of his skills.

 
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