the travel geek

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

The Ghats

Today’s journey was with Micha down to the burning Ghat. What an eerie place. I felt very strange there. It isn’t right to just go and watch for an hour. You need to go for an entire day; then you get the full feeling of the experience. If you go for just an hour it is like a tourist going to see a sight. It should not be like that. You need to sit and observe, experience and feel. You need to write down the things you feel as they happen. This is a very holy place and should be treated that way: with respect and reverence.

I saw a horrible thing while I was walking back to the hotel. I saw a little boy lose his arm. Everyone just stood around after it happened and discussed what to do. In the centre was the little arm still holding the rope he was using to cast a boat. Nearby a group of boys were playing cricket like nothing had happened; they were laughing and having loads of fun. But that’s the way India is: some unspeakable thing can happen and yet the world keeps existing as though nothing even happened. So many horrific things happen that it is just another part of everyday life.

The people treat death this way too. Kids are playing around the Ghats and looking like it is nothing new to them, but I guess it isn’t new. In the west we are so obsessed with death and dying. That we avoid it and try to prevent it, instead of embracing it like the people here do.

I felt really weird by the Ganges and at the Ghats. I feel very changed. I don’t think I will look at the world or at death in the same way now that I have walked on the sand and silt created by the ash and bones of dead people. Every little bit of silt in the Ganges comes from today, yesterday, tomorrow and thousands of years ago. Time is irrelevant at the Ganges. There is just life and death.

The Ganga is alive and you can really feel that when you are there. The river has an essence and a being. I think that if you do go into the waters you will understand its essence. But I have to get over my fear of death and dying before I will go in.

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