My days in Varanasi are going slow as usual , I went out to see the Arti the other day , but the rest of my time was spent in my room just gazing as an old Vedic temple outside my window . There is an old ac on top of the window as the rusted grills bare testimony to its age . The Vedic temple is that of Shiva with its pointed dome and a large lifted grey cemented courtyard . There are short stairs made of black stone that take the religious worshipper to the central sanctum where the Shiva linga is established .A group of girls get together at the steps in the evening as bright street lights light up the temple courtyard . There are young teenage kids playing with bicycle wheel or fooling around with kites . My hotel window starts the temple bang on and I loose myself at times watching the people and the going’s on around the Shiva temple .
Old and middle aged men congregate in the near by scooter parking their are some scary chairs and even a bench or two where folks sit and enjoy the winter evening , some engrossed in their hobbies like playing games on Tehri mobile , the others read the newspapers and the erst just sit and talk politics or what Aditya Yoginath is going to do next and why BJP should come back to power in Maharashtra .
There is an old ragpicker who sells coal and wood for fire to the temple and to the small homes around the area . He sits on a broken stool covers with black sooth , disheveled his clothes torn and worn out . He grunts and groans at times in the evening , and also uses the nearby temple walls to take a pee , he does it all in the open , imagine taking a leak on the Shiva Temple walls . When saree dropped woman bring food , garlands and Prasad to please the lord . The temple has metal cages as gates and is closed most of the time , it is safe to say that it does not have a permanent pujari . But the love of the locals keeps the place going and has still kept its relevance in the area of Durga Kunda .
I manage to enjoy a lassi in the traditional way inside a Kullhadh , and decided to have tandoori chicken today for dinner . Roast chicken in Banaras now that’s a luxury and I will be feasting on it today itself .
Corona is almost invisible here , hardly anyone wears mask , I am told there are hardly any Corona Patients in the city . It is the metro cities you see that have international flights that’s where Corona is killing , but in Varanasi is there no signs of it and the evening Arti was a testimony of that , where thousands mingled with each other on the ghats and in the many bazaars and bylines of the city , no one was wearing masks . It’s as if the people of Kashi think that the holiness and blessedness of the place will not let the evil of Corona effect it . Kashi’s piousness and religiosity will keep the virus and its lethal impact at bay .
I for one feel free maybe a bit lethargic at times but the city is a welcome change during the winter days and I am happy that I am free of any illness . Till then it’s tandoori chicken with sweet Lassi in my room . We might be headed for Allahabad in a day our two , that is another town I have fond memories of , it will help we might record a few more audio books there .
Baskin Robbin’s is another major attraction for me , situated near my hotel I do enjoy the mango and tutti froth there , in the middle of Varanasi we have a touch of American ice cream that is itself a wonder . What more on my way from the airport I also spotted the Taj Samudra , luxury in the middle of Ghats of death this is indeed a city of dichotomies .