I have tried various ways of starting this article, some with direct references of the holy place I am going to and some with a totally different approach and with revelations and philosophy. But everything seems to just fall drastically headlong into being “unworthy” of the description, the images, the life, and the essence of my home, Varanasi.
Varanasi has been my home for the past four years, and will be my home, my loved home for another year. Just to let my visitors know, I am doing my 5 year engineering course from IT-BHU, in Varanasi, and am expected to graduate in the coming year 2012. And though there is every chance, in fact, 99.99% probability that I will never be able to call Varanasi home again after a year, I don’t think I’ll ever fall in love with any other place so much.
I am going back to the holy city after two months, after completing my internship in Bengaluru, and I am as excited to go back as a child is to see his mother after school. I had been trying to pen down something while in Bengaluru, regarding the life and the internship as I was suggested by a friend. I even had half a piece written, but that’s it, only half a piece. Somehow, there was no feeling that bade me to write about Bengaluru. The feeling required essentially was not of force, but one of love. And that is exactly what was missing. But as I boarded the train from Hyderabad to Varanasi, everything felt so exciting and charming that even though I opened my notebook to browse through some music and games, I found myself writing about my beloved.
There is nothing that can describe my love for Varanasi. No, nothing. Those who have been there might argue over its rough language, worse climate, dirty streets and the rowdy people, over the cows and dogs which fill the roads more than humans, the amazingly narrow lanes manoeuvring through which is a feat worth the Guinness, the stench arising from the ghats full of all kinds of shit, and yes, the thugs and the thags. There is further more negativity like every other city in the world, in fact a hell lot of it, but they unwrap themselves only to those who have no want to know the positivity of the place.
If you have never known pleasures in Varanasi, or Banaras as I love to call it, then probably you have never had a cycle-rickshaw ride, or you have never heard the drivers sing while they take you into the cities or away from them. You have never met the bhaiya people, or you have never faced the bataiye crowd. You have never noticed the reverse flow the Ganges along the ghats, nor have you felt the tranquillity in the evening aartis or the rising sun. You have never bargained down the prices from 500 to 150. You have absolutely no idea of the taste of garama-garam jalebis or laung-latas, of the mouth-watering hot gulab-jamuns or the spicy kachori-sabji, and certainly, you have never known the most tantalising and lovable samosas and chats. You have never hitch-hiked and you have never fallen into an argument with a local. You haven’t seen the place on the eve of Dev-deepawali and you have never been cheated. In short, you haven’t lived.
Banaras is basically a place for the roughs. It will grind you with its extreme climate and the people, but at the same time, if you can find it, it will treat you with every aspect of life. If you have what it takes then Banaras is every bit worth the squeeze. There is everything in Banaras – friends, love, music, fever, food, misery, pimps, zero-money conditions which never go away, booze, cigarettes, pasta, bhang, pizza, ghats, thugs, God, boats, dances, river, and everything else that sums up life. There’s hope and despair, and there are good people and bad. There is always an urgency of the time, and there is everyone with nahi ho payega bhaiya on their lips. There is a lot of time to think and rediscover you, as well as there is every bit of chance to lose. There is as much positivity in the place as much there is negativity but then, everything is endurable. Everything is lovable. Everything is livable.
Because,Banaras, Varanasi, Kashi, is home.
Picture Credits: Mohit Modi