Varanasi is magical. Walking its streets you feel back in the middle ages: small, cobbled alleys filled with filth, people and animals. Cows, goats and solitary dogs walk freely around the the city with complete calm.
A labyrinth of streets in which it’s impossible to get one’s bearings, with cloth and sweet shops on every corner.
The alarm sounds at five AM. Today, surprisingly, I don’t have a hard time getting up from bed, I don’t really understand why but I have been thinking about this morning for some time before starting the trip.
Maybe it’s my rebel’s soul getting excited: on the first trip I made to India my grandmother’s only warning was that I should not bath in the river, and on this trip once again everyone has warned me against it.
Walking Kassi’s empty streets in the early morning is an experience onto itself. Advancing through the crowds during the day is tortuous and the deafening sound of a motorcycle beeping to pass by has got me on my nerves more than once. At five AM the cows are our only travel companions.
Before I was saying that it’s streets are like a labyrinth, but this isn’t a great comparison because in them you don’t usually get lost – if you continue walking you always arrive to her: the mother of the city, the Ganga river.
And this is precisely what Marion and I do, following the alleys we arrive in an open Ghat with a panoramic view of the riverside city. The sun is starting to come out and reddish light soaks the scene. There is a tourist sitting down calmly and two or three Indians bath in their dhotis. I take advantage of the scene to take some pictures, some of them could be keepers.
When I sit cross legged on the shore what seems like an ocean extends in front of me. I close my eyes.
I concentrate on my breath. I try to perceive the world around me. Vipassana - what it is - try to perceive the reality of things.
Everything is still calm, birds chirp in the morning light and I hear the sounds of a boat roaming the water.
As I do when I’m about to try a climb, I give myself some time till I feel I am ready for it. Then I bath.