As I linger this morning getting ready to head out to explore another day in Varanasi, I’m struck by two things.
First, how dang hot it is! 11am and it’s easily above 90* in the shade, which is in short supply. I’m in cotton leggings and a thin tunic and I’m still sweating as I sit and enjoy black coffee and butter toast on the hotel terrace.
The other is just how daunting heading out and exploring my surroundings truly is. I’m here at the hotel, but I couldn’t tell you the route to get here. The city that lies inland is a complete unknown, no matter how many times I look at the guidebook map.
I now know what the great burning ghat Manikarnika looks like, only because I made the walk north of my hotel to see it (and that was a moving experience, to say the least). With each step, it was like the blurred edges in my mind, all that I don’t know about my surroundings, became a bit more clear. I could see my own personal map rolling out in size as I made my way down the bank.
Today, I’m going to attempt heading south to a well-reviewed cafe on the river with great views and good food. I’m bringing a book and a journal and I hope to spend an hour or so taking it all in. But I haven’t been that far south yet, so past the Dashaswamedh Ghat I’m not sure what I’ll run into – a blocked path, a busy crossing, a row of holy men or pushy vendors. While I’m sure there will be a few cows involved, it’s all still undiscovered surroundings in the map of my mind.
But if this trip isn’t about coloring in those blurred edges, I don’t know why I’m here at all.
Updated to add… OK, maybe it’s not 90* outside. My little weather app says the high in Varanasi is 82* but I’m telling you – it’s balmy! Also, I successfully found Lotus Lounge at the south end of the main row of ghats and had a lovely, leisurely lunch on the rooftop terrace.