Surviving Kashi

I tried hard to like Varanasi. There is no doubt that the city – alternately referred to as Benaras or Kashi – is remarkable. In its geography, arrayed against the left bank of the sacred Ganges, as well as its fascinating history, woven with fantastic legends*. I am not sure how its claim to being…

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Chai On The Road

I confess to being a bit of a chai snob. Having consumed flavourful high grown Nilgiri tea at its source for decades, and brewed the propah English way, it would be an understatement to say I am picky about my tea. I detest the thick, sugary, milky cha/chai served in homes across India and when…

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Framed Stories

There are times when a passing glimpse through a window or on a street corner, that I didn’t pay much attention to at the time, sticks with me longer than any travel memory. A poignant scene, a mysterious face, those fleeting fragments of life, that register in my subconscious and return to haunt me. And…

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Holy Cow!

While we do have cows on our roads in Chennai, the numbers in the smaller towns in North India seem to exceed their human population! Mathura and Vrindavan, not surprisingly, being the towns associated with the cow herd God, Krishna, were over run by cattle. I had to leave my camera in the car when…

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The Light Of Faith

The crowded, choreographed, almost Bollywoodesque obeisance to the Ganga in Varanasi, is more spectacle than religious ritual. Performed daily at sunrise and sunset, the Ganga aarti was conceived by the savvy pujari (temple priest) Babu Maharaj in 1992, and it’s  popularity has spawned more such spectacles in other cities along the banks of India’s holiest…

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From A Morning Walk In Varanasi

A mid-morning chai break. See that lady in the blue sari in the background? R is convinced she is the old man’s wife…..”No question!”. Her body language (see below), according to him, resembles mine during the days when I briefly tried to give up all caffeinated beverages in the vain hope of losing my weight…

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