Saturday, July 13, 2013


thinking about...?
Home sweet home. Yes, I made it back home to beautiful Switzerland where things seem unchanged, everyone and everything did very well without me noticing it. Unlike my promise, this post is written in the cozy chalet of my parents and not in India. The days were too packed and the internet options too vast, not allowing me to write a last post from India.
Already the boarder in Sanauli pointed out the differences between Nepal and India; more people, more dust, more hectic, more street vendors (for various goods) and more cows. Apart from that the two countries leave a relatively similar impression in the lonely travellers mind. There is maybe one more thing, the name "George" as a negative association in India, due to the former British King, named George as well. I kept emphasizing that my name is written without the "e" at the end and that I am a Swiss citizen, not related in any form to the folks from the rainy island. Not willed to dig deep in the British-Indian history, I will keep this topic away from this entry, nonetheless, some things are very aparent in India and therefore will make it into the blog.

In Sanauli we caught a bus to Gorakphur (similar to Sanauli, just bigger), where we changed our mode of transport to train. Overnight we drove for some eight hours towards Varanasi (former Banaras), where we arrived in the morning hours while the holy town was just waking up. Contrary to the city live, we did not feel like waking up, the bumpy train ride could not offer a decent and required amount of sleep, so we recovered that for a few hours.

Holy Varanasi
It was anyway good to be fully awake when we wandered for a first time through the narrow alleys of Varanasi. There are plenty of things you need to watch out for; turds (piles of excrements, be they humen or animal source), quite aggressive street vendors, and death ceremonies. Varanasi has a special place in the Indian-Hindu belief siystem. Those who are burned or sunk  here can escape the cycle of reincarnation and go directly into the Nirvana - so the belief. You read right, burned or sunk; Most of the people are burned on one of the Gaths along the Ganges river, if the reason for death is related to pregnancy, illness like leprosy or follwed a poisoning by any animal, the bodies are not burned, they are thrown into the Ganges. To make sure that they sink, a big stone is tied to the legs. The exact opposite (to burn the poisoned and sik and maybe sink the others) would make more sense in my eyes, maybe not from a religious point of view but definitely from a hygienic perspective.

We saw lots of corpses being cremated, we saw people washing themselves and their belongings in the Ganges, we saw baby bodies disappear in the brown river with a stone attached to their legs and we saw others brushing their teeth with the very same water. You can say and think what you want and I do not want to spend too many lines on the topic of religion, but think of it; how much good could be done on our world with the power that some religious leaders hold? Why e.g. don't the Buddhist monks teach that littering is no good (and why do they do it themselves in some cases?) or why doesn't the Catholic churche finally pluck up some courage and end the ridicolous questions around the topic of contraception? Seriously, you can belief what ever you want, but at least in some cases one should also belief in science. And don't get me started on the topics of tolerance and diversity.

Enough about that, here are three other things you can enjoy in Varansi, apart from all the holy ceremonies and sights. Delicious Lassis, some truly good silk shops and true Indian movies:

A good Lassi comes with a fly on top
In Varanasi it could easily happen that while you are sipping your banana-chocolate lassi, a death ceremony walks by, including the corpse, on their way to the Ganges. It could also happen that some guy from the steet keeps talking to you, about how you should come to have a look at his or his father's silk shop next door. We did enter quite a few as we wanted to get some tailor made silk made Alibaba trousers. In the end we decided for the most sympathig one and had "Pappu" made super stylish pants for us. Pappu also showed us pictures with him and Goldie Hawn on it, she is a regular customer of his. I can give you more details about the location of Pappus shop, should you be willed to buy silk in Varanasi, just contact me.

Pappu & me with some of his silk

Lootera, currently a hit in India
 Another delight is to visit a true Indian cinema. In Varanasi, the cinema is probably the most sophisticated facility of all. We went to see "Lootera", the story about a thief who falls in love with his victim. One thing is clear, Holliwood guys like Michael Bay or amateur actors like Richard Geere, Nicolas Cage or Shia Labeouf are strongly advised to either visit acting classes again or otherwise prepare for their retirement. Bollywood has picked up with western movie productions, espiecially the acting performances are top! The times where Indian movies were all about dancing and singing are not gone, but these movies, which we all think are the only bollywood movies have a different purpose anyway: they allow young Indian couples to get some privacy, if you know what I mean. This is why the stories in those movies are mostly rubbish and this is also why they are artificially prolonged through musical inputs and dances. Yes, this is tough news for the classical bollywood loving Swiss single lady in her late fourties, it might even blow her out of the Birkenstocks or Mephistos... Even Indians themselves know that these movies are rubbish, no one watches them, instead they go to the theatres to focus on something completely different...

 On the way to Delhi, there was enough time to include a one night stop in Agra, where we could visit the famous Taj Mahal. Stunned by its beauty we spent quite some time around the Taj, she must have been quite a woman, Mumatz Mahal - why else would anyone errect such a temple for one single Lady (especially if you are Persian and muslim)?

Can't Taj this, dum dumdumdum (know the song?)
The Taj is not the only beautiful thing in Agra...

Well then, then we arrived in Delhi, went out for a delicious last diner acompanied by some beers and then my days in Asia were numbered. The brand new top notch metro brought me alongside slums and garbage dumps to the international airport. The ride reminded me of the various contrasts that India has to offer; e.g. when walking through Varanasi it is hard to belief that the very same country also has a astronautics programme running...

Sitting in AY022, somewhere over the Kashmir mountnains, I listened again to 'my travel song'. "Rotted on the Vine" by Ian Fisher. Endless thoughts went through my head, goose bumps and more than cliché emotions came up. Here is the trak: Rotted on the Vine - by Ian Fisher. Song begins at 1.50.


 And here is another, sort of teaser for the upcoming time lapse movie; a merge of self portrait 1 and 102.

keep it up, GH.

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