Varanasi is such a bizarre place. It keeps me on the edge constantly. Every little thing makes me jump and start and yet it is a peaceful and enlightened place. To think that the people who come here leave forever changed; to think so many enlightened people created art during or after their stay in Varanasi.

How can you spend just one week here? You could be here a whole time and not see it all – every little dirty disgusting niche. If I discover that yoga is the thing for me then I will come back and study in Varanasi for a year.

There is so much death, so many unspeakable atrocities. Dogs ripping apart babies; people losing their limbs; burning bodies; dead monkeys. Yet, there is so much life, so many colours and so much activity. As an example, Micha and I were walking to the poor man’s ghat and we saw a garden planted right into the cement. It was completely out of place where it was, so much so that it was bizarre.

Nothing fazes the people who live here. They are not afraid. They stand up and face their fears and their horrors. People in the west are so afraid of ugly things. They are afraid of each other and at the same time afraid of themselves.

I’ll admit I am afraid to go down to the burning ghat because the experience is so overwhelming. It forces me to look at death in a way that I have never considered. While I am there I feel smothered by it but at the same time strangely fascinated. It suffocates me but I am drawn to it.

The river is alive. It is a creature that needs to be fed. And, it is a creature that gives life; it nourishes the crops, people drink it, it nourishes their spiritual needs. The Ganga is a monstrous being that controls their lives.