Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Sub tik tak hai - everything is just fine

By some stroke of genius beyond my control we have managed to be in Banaras for Saraswati puja, a hindu festival. Small clubs all over the city set up tents that house a temporary icon of Saraswati, the goddess of learning. One of my Ramlila friends invited us to his neighbourhood's Saraswati and they did a puja (devotional worship) on our behalf. If nothing else, hopefully this will help the dreaded dissertation!! For the people i am travelling with it was a great experience. Then for the last two nights people have been parading their Saraswatis to the Ganges to submerse her. Normally this only happens for one night, but this year, due to some lunar ambiguity, it has lasted over two nights. This means it has been very noisy, but exciting here. It has given my neophyte tourist friends a good tase of just how crazy, colourful and chaotic India can be.

Two nights ago my one friend gave us a banethi demonstration. This is an indian marshall art in which sticks and ropes with fire one the ends are swung around in the most beautiful fashion. I have only seen it done in large crowd situtions like Ramlila, so it was stunning to be given a private show. Then we went over to his house for dinner - the most delicious rajma i have ever had! The Brain would have been impressed.

So far we have also gone for two boat rides. one to the other side of the river and one down along the ghats. Unfortunately my pictures did not turn out. I have brought our new digital camera here with me and apparently i am not that profficient at using it, but i think i have it figured out now.

We have arranged to leave here by train on Saturday evening and will arrive in Agra Sunday morning. Omji has booked us into a very nice, yet inexpensive hotel there. We will spend one day there and then to Delhi and then home. It is not yet clear whether or not i will be spending extra time in Delhi or Toronto.

Monday, January 26, 2004


I thought of more to say. The weather when we first got here was quite cold and foggy, so we ended up sitting in the Delhi airport for a good 5 hours before our plane to Banaras took off. Yesterday the weather cleared up nicely. Unfortunately i got sunburnt, and today was superb. Tomorrow we willtake a sun rise cruise on the ganges.

Yesterday we all went to buy 'Indian outfits" - salwaar kamiz. It was so much fun. Five ladies and one gent. I think he was bored, but we were fighting over fabrics and whatnot, having a grand old time. My outfit is a steel blue colour with silver. Makes my eyes look good. I have also bout some pillow covers for Auntieji, a shawl for Mataji, but nothing else.

Bonjour from Banaras

Yeah - we made it here with ease this time. Got the first flight out of Van and then the first flight out of Toronto for Delhi. I must say it is great to back. Today i was just walking down the main road and my eyes welled up because i was so happy.

By some stroke of luck we have managed to get here for Saraswati Puja, which is today and tomorrow. It is one of my favorite festivals, so i am very happy. My friend Manoj invited us to a puja near his house, so we went and were the guests of honour.

I don't know what else to say. So much is going on, where do i begin. Perhaps when i get home i will do a better job. All i can say is that i am exhausted. I've been up everyday at 6am and never take time to sit down until about 10 at night. It is hard work trying to see everyone i want to see and take care of India neophytes! So far every one's health is good and all my friends here are being so generous it is unbelievable.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Well, now is as good a time as any to update all you faithful blog readers who keep saying "January 4th! You haven't written anything since January 4th!".

It looks like I may finally be going to India on Thursday. I say 'may' because with flying stand by you never really know. Right now i am in the throws of deciding how much money to take with me. Yes, Banaras does have a bank machine (notice i used the singular), but i don't want to be completely reliant on it because you just never know what could go wrong. I could just see my mom having a fit because i am in India with no money! I know how many ruppes i am going to take with me in cash, it's the traveller's cheques that are giving me a moment of pause. Hmm.

I've got alot to do between now and thursday, especially seeing as i leave at 6:30 AM. To make matters worse, our manager is installing an intercom system this week, mostly through our hall wall, so it is a little bit more chaotic around here than usual. And the cat is freaking out! Poor Otis.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Okay, my holidays are officially over, so i should be blogging on a more regular basis. With the Brain home for the last few eeks i have been too busy to blog!

OTIS UPDATE Now that we have had Otis, our new cat, for a little over a month, i feel that i am in a good position to comment on his temperment etc. In general he is a loving and affectionate cat, though a little odd at times. I had deduced that this is because he entirely lacks a sixth sense. Aren't all cats supposed to have a secret sixth sense that helps them stalk prey in the wild? Well, otis does not and i am not entirely sure about how well his traditional five senses are functioning. We can safely assume by his reaction to petting (loves it) that his sense of touch is ok, perhaps even outstanding. Taste, well i've smelled his cat food and i wouldn't eat the stuff... Which brings me to his sense of smell. A) i have already mentioned the smell of his cat food; B)when he sniffs things he sort of drags his nose along them. All of this points to a weak sense of smell. I can't test his hearing, as cats are known to willfully ignore owners when it is most important. And his sight... he seems to get easily distracted but that may be because he is a dreamer, rather than any defect on his part. Anyways he is a little skittish at times, more so if he has been into the catnip. But i love him, quirks and all.