Wrong Turns

The last time I got lost was with friends in the alleys of Varanasi or was it not? Actually, I am not sure about when was the last time that I took a wrong turn. But then, lets share this story of Varanasi.

The year was 2013 and the date I don’t remember. However, the day was celebrated as Dev Deepawali. It was an evening in the month of November and it seems the whole Varanasi had stood up and came to the ghats. Do take a look at the picture just to get a clue how crowded the place could be.

Assi ghat in Varanasi in dev peepawaliYou can see the priests performing aarti and the crowd that surrounds them. This crowd continues for more than 2 kilometers along the banks of river Ganga.

Varanasi is famous for its narrow, curvy alleys. A person is bound to get lost in these alleys. “Banaras ki galiyon me aap ko khona hi padega”, people say.

So, with a group of 5 friends, I went to see the aarti at the Dashashwamedh ghat. We started at around 6 in the evening just to see the unavailability of local transport due to the huge crowd that blocked the roads. We had no option but to walk 5 kilometeres to the ghat from our hostel.

Everyone in my group cursed everyone as we felt the heat of the unavailability of a single public transport vehicle. But anyways, we moved ahead. After walking 4 kilometers there was a police official at the four-way just before the ghats to stop us from entering further. With the tiredness hovering over us we felt disappointed that wee would not be able to see the celebration. But, my friends were great!

One of them guided us to one of the narrow alleys some  distance before the four-way. He said he knew the way. So, we went into the dark alley. It looked horrible, just like a scene in some horror story. Monkeys were there fighting among themselves and falling near us making faces that would make anyone scared.

But we went ahead as my friend guided us. Then, in the middle of the nowhere, that wise friend accepted his defeat and declared that we were lost.

Now, being lost has a very peculiar characteristic. You don’t panic until you actually know that you are lost and you can’t help yourself but panic as soon as you realize you are lost.

Surely, now was the panic time. We beat him for sometime and then everyone cursed everyone again. However, we decided to move forward till the end of the alley just to make sure if it got us somewhere. We moved further into that dark alley with people giving us strange looks.

One of the monkeys then fell over me and was almost ready to bite me when he saw a person carrying some fruits in his transparent bag. He stole it and jumped back to the terrace of the hoses that surrounded the dark alley from both sides. Seems god had just spared my life.

However, the narrow alley did not lead us down. It got us to somewhere. It got us to the ghats. A big stage was constructed with bamboo sticks on the river and the audience was made to sit on the stairs of the ghats. Kailash Kher was the main star performer there and the ultimate reward for our courage and risk that night. Yes, that evening had turned into night by then.

Of course, that wrong turn in the alley of Varanasi was stressful, in fact, a lot stressful. But, it was enjoyable with a lifetime experience with monkeys, dark alleys and what not. And above all, that wrong turn in Varanasi was quite rewarding too.

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