Child of Ganga

Boat, madam? Boat? Boat? Boat??

Posted in Uncategorized by Nadia Kamil on December 1, 2008


The sadhu’s hand

“People say the life of a sadhu is very tough but I have found true peace only after becoming one.”
– Radchor Ashram, 59

***

I believe there is no place in the world quite like Benaras. Some people come here for a few days, some for a few weeks, some for years, some come here to live the rest of their lives and even more come here just to die. Already, home seems like worlds away; the sterile cleanliness, the jaded looks, the silence. Was all that what I have been so used to?

This place is a complete enigma, so full of character and contrasts that it is hard not to wear a perpetually bemused expression even as I just sit on the steps of the ghats and watch events unfold before me.

At Harish Chandra ghat, young boys play a rowdy game of cricket just beside the cremation grounds where piles of burning wood are encircled by mourning family members. I look through the viewfinder of my camera, watching within that little frame a boatman with his two sons, all wrapped in shawls and silhouetted against the morning light. Just behind me, two men piss on the walls of the ghat. No one bats an eyelid. I try to photograph sewage very openly leaking out from a pipe. A peanut-seller passing by stops me and asks why would I want to take a photo of the “dirty water”? Ganga is over there, he says, pointing to the river. Take photo of Ganga, good sacred water, very nice photo. I gesture that the “dirty water” behind is flowing directly into Ganga and he shrugs sheepishly. The government is not doing anything, he says. I buy a bag of peanuts from him. Some kids come running over. They are the same kids everyday and I am starting to learn their names. They ask if I would like to buy candles or flowers today but it is only a half-hearted question since I say no everyday. We sit in the shade and share the bag of peanuts.

In the evening, I walk along the alleys and pass by a group of hijras. When I reach home, I go up to the rooftop to watch people flying kites for a while and then retire to my room for the night. I will have to prepare for my short trip up to Kanpur soon. Also, will be visiting an ashram for (even more) Aghori sadhus with Nandan soon. That should be interesting, haha.

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7 Responses

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  1. siddharth said, on December 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    u seem to be getting along quite well in the city. it was a pleasure going through your experiences .btw was a bit sad hearing about your experience with lali baba. keep up the good work
    siddharth

  2. Anonymous said, on December 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    i hear u r under curfew

  3. ngiam said, on December 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    ARgh bet you’re having fun, dirty sewage and all.

  4. hazariah said, on December 1, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    nadia,
    let me know the situation and the caste and the social relationships between the people and the hijras, and perhaps the hijras and sadhus and the hijras and ganga.

    im doing an anthropology primary research on them.

    i just need your account! ((:

  5. Hee-haw said, on December 1, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    HAHAHA! The peanut uncle is so funny! Haha.. I wish I could see how he looks like when u point the water towards the river! Hahah! I like the title, Sounds like farting! Hahaha.. “puuut~ Madam? Puuut? Puuut? Puuut?” HAHAHHA!! Ok, I’m retard! Ignore me! Hahaha..

  6. dorky daren said, on December 2, 2008 at 12:03 am

    nadia sharing peanuts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! miss you!!!!!!!!!

  7. regina said, on December 2, 2008 at 12:11 am

    the kids like you! xDD


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