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.

The Talent of Varanasi

Environment plays a very important role in our writing abilities. Whether we want to write an article, a poem, a short story or anything else, it is important that we are comfortable with the place where we sit to write. There are writers who travel, go to places, at times some weird places just to get the required feel required for their writing, to produce that masterpiece.

But, to those who don’t write it is hard to explain all this effort that a writer performs to accomplish his writing task. The first time I heard of such a thing was Ruskin Bond who lived in the himalayan mountains despite huge fandom. If he chose to, he would have been able to afford a house in any of the cities in India or UK.

However, I felt the effect of environment in one’s writing abilities only when I arrived Varanasi. A holy city by history, it has produced some world class artists like Pt Ravi Shankar. There is a long list of such people who hail from Varanasi and here, dear readers, do presume that I am not comparing myself with any of them not to be modest but because it is just a crude fact that I don’t stand anywhere near these personalities. I have wanted to write poems in hindi since my school days. But, I was not able to complete any of the poems with just the ideas I wanted to convey.

When I moved to this city for my undergraduate studies, I felt some sort of peace and fluidity in me. I don’t know how it came but within 3-months after my coming to Varanasi, I was writing my poems completely. I wrote one, and then two and it went on and on. Of course these poems were in hindi, so I could share them with my friends there. I can’t say I wrote good poems but I wrote them completely and that is what important to me. If you(dear readers), are familiar with the language, do have a look on my poems by following the link:

Some Words

Though, I have not written a single article of this blog being in Varanasi I still believe that Varanasi was a place where I could produce my best writing. Being on the ghats roaming around, getting ideas arbitrarily and penning it down in hostel, all this was what I did in 3 years of my stay there.

Writers have a talent. But so do places. And for my abilities, what-so-ever, is a sure talent of Varanasi and not me. Incredible Varanasi! The place that got a better out of me, this is my writing space.

FAVOURITE MISTAKE

Mistakes are something which are followed by regret by nature. But there are mistakes which bring in some happy moments with them. Of course, such mistakes are very rare, but they do exist.

One of those rare mistakes which I committed was on my way to university from home. It is a 5-hour journey to Mughalsarai from where one has to share an auto to go to Varanasi.

After an overnight journey I just wanted to anyhow get to my hostel without physically hurting myself in the auto as I felt dizziness all over.

As I entered the auto I saw a beautiful girl sitting by the window side. It was strange to see such a beautiful girl travelling at 4 am in the dark. She, however, seemed to be somewhat happy as she saw me.

I sat beside her. The auto was then packed with other passengers with no room to even shake a bit. As the auto started, a sudden jerk came to all of us as the auto bumped into a big pot-hole.

I caught the side wall of the auto from behind her with my hand just a bit short of touching her. I tried my best from keeping my hand from touching her as it could mean different things. She might get uncomfortable and she could get me into trouble.

Its more vulnerable for boys in India than for girls. Once, just once they need to complain or shout in public, all the people around become the moral police and judge and the boy is pronounced the culprit and punished with shoes, kicks, punches and what not. Needless to say that all this happens in a matter of seconds.

The journey began and so did my escapades with pot-holes. They came one after the other and I was trying my best not to bump on her. I think, she noticed that as she became more comfortable in her posture caring less if I would put my hands here and there.

Just then, a rather large pot-hole was encountered by the auto which had gained some momentum by now giving all of us a big jerk. My hand with which I was holding the side of the auto fell on her shoulders.

“Oh shit! I am gone. Any moment she will shout and the trouble time may start for me. But its not my fault. I will explain. But she would be angry and would not listen…” I was thinking stuffs that I had imagined in the past.

But to my astonishment, she didn’t shout. Instead, she rested her head on my arms and bowed a bit towards me. I didn’t know what to do. I had never imagined such a situation, especially in such a conservative society of Varanasi.

I didn’t move my hands and she got cozier in my arms. “Is she a prostitute?”, I thought but no, I remembered I had seen her quite a few times in the university campus. She could not be a harlot. I decided to stop judging her.

Anyways, it felt great to have her in my arms. She had closed her eyes and even I was feeling sleepy in the morning wind. I rested my head on hers and slept. To be honest, I didn’t sleep but just closed my eyes and cherished every moment.

As we reached the university gate, she woke me up saying-“Kya din bhar yahin sone ka irada hai?” meaning “Do you intend to sleep like this all day”. I wanted to say her- yes, or I don’t mind. But, instead, I said sorry and smiled, she giggled on that and we went to our respective hostels.

That day I realized two things-

One, that a girl resting on your arms, trusting you enough for that gives you a far great feeling than all the porn and sex of the world.

Two, that I had just committed my favourite mistake in life.