Thursday, December 15, 2016

Namashkar India (Part 3 - Mystical Varanasi)

Okay now sambung our journey from Kolkata to Varanasi.

We took our bags from the cloak room and waited for the train. One tips, kalau you takut beg you kena curi ke (which is quite unlikely) or takut rats (ada sign beware of rats) sebab you ada simpan food dalam beg kan, I’d suggest you beli beg guni besar yang banyak jual kat kedai kedai lama tu, yang RM10 tu and put your backpack inside. That’s what we did lah. Turned out, the guni bag has more benefits than just keeping our bags safe.

Since kitorang beli train tix which were AC 2 Tier, we get to wait in the waiting room. Kalau you beli sleepers class, memang tak dapat lah. It's for second class and above je. Ours was for ladies only. Which is cool sebab ada toilet dalam tu. And…the toilet takde lah teruk sangat pun. Okay je. Takde pun taik bersepah ke, ada pool of urine ke, takde pon. Okay je.

Kat Howrah tu ada shower room and toilet. So kalau rasa nak mandi, boleh lah. But kitorang tak mandi pon sebab kosser lah. Renyah okay. Some more, it’s FREAKING WINTER! So sejuk and we don’t sweat at all so why laa nak mandi , kalau nak mandi sangat mandi kat Gangga la bila sampai Varanasi nanti. LOL.

We took Vibhuti Express from Kolkata to Varanasi. But, if you try to search the name in the display board, the train is spelled as Bibhuti Express. Kat sana, huruf V and B tu lebih kurang je. Some called Varanasi as Baranasi. So that’s a fun fact for you.

Our train took 13 hours to reach Varanasi. In the train, Farah and I got separated at first. Like I said, my status was RAC, meaning I have to share with another person. Turns out, I have to share with a 70 years old grandma.

My status was RAC/1 and my seat waktu tu 17, meaning I dapat lower berth. And the berth was folded so it formed like two seats with a table in the middle.

The seat looked something like this. Except this is for sleeper's (Pic from Google)

Then there are this auntie asking me about my seat sebab dia tengok I macam lost and stupid kan. Lol. Lepas tu she confirmed that I got the lower berth and family grandma tu pulak macam resah sebab kesian dekat nenek tu kot takkan dia nak tidur sambil duduk, or worse takkan nak panjat berth atas kan. After some time, Farah came to my coach to try ajak I pindah to her berth sebab dia pun dapat lower berth so she thought both of us could share.

But then, the grandma’s family was asking

“Why are you moving? You got the lower berth”

After some explanation, we both agreed that nenek tu akan take tempat Farah which is in another coach, and Farah would take the nenek’s place, which is the upper berth. Yeay! Tak payah dah risau yang kitorang akan terpisah. SO DRAMA!

So, Farah climbed up to her berth and I’m left with mine. We were given bedsheet and a blanket. Problem is, I haven’t pull down the seat so it became a berth, so for almost 4 hours, I was sleeping like I was sitting. Sakit badan dan kaki okay, dah lah gemuk some more. Until, an angel came to visit me. Gituuuhhh.

Ada this one lady, (the first lady yang confirmed my berth earlier) she came to me. Terkejut okay tetibe ada orang selak langsir. Rasa macam diceroboh. Gituh. Then she was babbling to me in Hindi. Terpinga-pinga sekejap sebab tak faham sepatah haram pun. When I told her that I don’t understand Hindi, she made a face, and then move around and help me set up my berth. After that, she even tucked me in bed! Sweet takkk? Rasa macam ada emak following me while travelling pulak. Terus manly tears that night while sleeping. OVERZ.

The berth after it was set up looked something like this (Pic from Google)

We both had a good rest, and we were expected to arrive Varanasi around 9.30 am. By 5 am je, both of us dah segar bugar and Farah turun to lepak at my berth. Seronok je tengok pemandangan dekat luar. The mist was freaking thick! At some point, tak nampak apa apa pun and a lot of people wearing winter cloth with scarves and thick sweater, the temperature at the time was around 15 degree Celcius. Imagine? Aircond kat rumah pun I pasang around 26 degree Celc je okay.

One of the local as seen outside our train. It's so cold out there

Bila sampai je Varanasi, both of us were looking for our auto driver. Farah has made earlier arrangement with Monu Guesthouse, which situated near the Ganges River. The auto driver was sent by Monu to us so takde lah kena tipu ke apa ke. The cost for the auto was Rs. 200, which is around RM12. 

Traffic in Varanasi is almost like Kolkata. Full of cars. Banyak gila kereta, auto, and motorcycles. But, peringatan awal awal, sesiapa yang travel to Varanasi, please pakai face mask especially kalau you jenis tak tahan habuk because the habuks are CRAAAZZZZYYYYYY. Banyak gila debu berterbangan okay. Jalan dia memang berhabuk teruk, even kitorang pun tutup muka dengan tudung masing masing.

Sampai je kat pekan Varanasi tu, we have to walk to get to Monu Guesthouse because it was situated in the alleys yang auto and rickshaw tak muat nak masuk. And the alleys were infested (LOL) with a lot of cows. So memang at a point tu, maximum empat orang je boleh lalu the alleys at one time.

One of the alleys here. 

There are a lot of alleys in Varanasi. At first, you could get lost while walking through the alleys to go to Ganges River but it was nice. You'll find a lot of houses, people, and shrine along the way.

After we have arrived in Monu and checked in, we booked with Monu for our night boat ride alongside the Ganges River. We first get our self freshen, have some rest and whatnots, kitorang pun decide to go embark our journey in Varanasi.

But first, MAKAN DULU.

Since Varanasi is called as Shiva City, so most of the community along the river is Hindu and vegetarians. Kitorang ni dah lah kuat melantak ayam, so sebab tak jumpa any non Veg halal food kat area sungai ni, we decided to eat some veg dish at Ganga Fuji Restaurant. We had some pakora (it's a lot like kuih Vadeh), roti, and omelette. I tried some chocolate lassi too which taste macam Dutch Lady Chocolate yang basi. Tak manis macam yang kat mamak in Malaysia langsung, and you kena minum laju laju like you must devour the lassi kalau tak nanti rasa macam urghhh cannot go. 

So, after makan we took a stroll along the river, watching people taking bath, praying, doing meditation, sleep, performing some ritual, and kids playing kites. Banyak budak budak main layang-layang sampai I rasa macam dalam scene cerita The Kite Runner. Because why, there were a lot of kids yang berlari kejar layang-layang yang jatuh tu macam what Hassan did to Amir in the movie. So cute.

Personally, when I jalan-jalan dekat Ganges tu, I rasa sangat calm and relax despite all the hassle around. There were a lot of people will be offering you their boatride for a very cheap price but since we already booked with Monu, we have to decline. But they were not forcing at all. Just decline with a smile on your face and they'll leave you alone.

The magical Ganges and the ghats taken during our morning boatride

Bila I jalan along the river, I can see that the river gave life to the people, and vice versa. It's like the river won't be as magical as it is now if it's not for the people, and looking at them praying and showering at the river, it shows how much hope and faith and believe that they have in the river. It shows, how great we are as human, we all need something to believe in. Some faith to hold on to.

I taktahu macam mana nak relate, you have to be here to understand.

Waktu petang tu, there was this square that they were cleaning for the night's ritual. so time tu you kena jalan dengan hati hati lah kalau tak nanti kena simbah air pulak because we did saw a group of people kena simbah air because these people tengah cuci lantai. Also, banyak gilaaa lembu dekat dataran tu and banyak jugak orang jual toys. Holy men were everywhere. But, to take their pictures, you kena pay them some money or else they won't allow you to do so.

Some facts about the holy men, they were actually people who left everything duniawi (family, job, assets) to be a holy men. They are free from any worldly matters and are looked up by the people for their blessings, but are feared for their curses. So, don't make them mad okay.

One of the holy men resting along the river

Holy men are not monks. They are different. They are just people yang not attached to worldly matters je. They just live on their own without any attachment. They basically just live there in the river, and sometimes they will walk around in the valley and people will go meet them for and stop them to seek for their blessings.

Okay, I guess that's all for now. The post has been too long. Nanti I sambung lagi pasal Varanasi in the next post. Tak cukup satu post kalau nak cerita pasal Varanasi ni. Sebab best sangat.

Till then. See ya!

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