Thursday, 10 June 2010

My Diary of India: Third Extract

We are now on the night train to the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi. So far the seats are plastic and sweaty and sleep doesn’t seem possible as Paddy teaches us about socio-India. What he says is merely demonstrated by the legless man who hobbled the 2 miles back to the train station in the burning head, just to lead us to the Delhi metro earlier today. After a long and uncomfortable night on the train, we arrived in Varanasi yesterday morning. I was on the bottom bunk and everytime the train jolted, I woke up. Nevertheless, when we got to the hotel, ‘Hotel Surya’ it was more perfect than Hotel Perfect (massages and swimming pools!). after dumping our stuff, we went to the hotel’s restaurant which was really nice and not too spicy for once (slow service though)! In the afternoon, Alison, Renata and I went to visit the archaeological museum which held the relics from where the Buddha gave his first preaching. Really, really phenomenal detail meant that there was lots to be engaged by. Our tuktuk driver, Mehboob advised us on all the sights we were seeing along the way. He also told us not to buy from the silk shop that Paddy was to be taking us to, because he took 40% commission, but to buy from his friend’s silk shop as he only took 2% and gave it to his children! I’m beginning to realise how everyone is out for your money here, everyone tells you that their product is ‘best price, best quality 200 rupees no problem’, but you never know who to trust; we don’t know if we can even trust our own tour guide! After the museum we visited the deer park where the Buddha actually gave his first sermon. The remains made me imagine what the scene must have been like; it was an expanse of grass with protruding red-brick ruins, and lots of ants. On the way back we stopped at the silk shop under Mehboob’s persuasion, and got hard-sold until screaming poin. He also took us to a silver shop where an unprepared man with his flies undone showed us around before we made the bumpy ride back to the hotel.

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