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Readers Write: Varanasi

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There's poetry in the everyday sights of Varanasi

Nikhil Bhardwaj

The soothing murmur of water takes me back to a time where we listened to folk tales and learned some valuable lessons on self-discovery.

A portrait of Varanasi: the brimming water of Ganga; bobbing moored boats; mornings shrouded with fog; glistening dew drops; a misty, cool breeze; historical inscriptions on the walls and prayer bells in temples; hawkers selling chiming bells and gongs; priests with their ritual vessels smoking weed in pipe-like paraphernalia made of various materials; ghats full of people drawing water and bathing; holy scriptures; incantations and mantras; migratory birds in their full beauty; sorrowful faces of people who come to cremate the dead; children with kites in their hands; shops with their commercialisation of religion; procrastinating cows; chaiwallahs and their kadak chai; the spicy litti and chokha served with green chili and chutney (ah, the perfect combination!); narrow gullies submerged in silence; beggars all around in their tattered clothes; and a foreigner dressed in a gossamer, swirling robe.

A curved dagger hung at her waist, and I could have had an insightful conversation with her, but our guide stopped abruptly in front of an old, thatched building, and started describing the beauty of its past. The fragrance of incense drifted towards us. As time passed, a veil of hazy darkness covered us, casting her shadow upon us and bringing the temperature down. We eventually headed back to the hotel.

It is not possible to describe in words the beauty Varanasi possesses, but I know this: the city is soothing to all senses. Like a tight hug that comforts an ailment which no medication can heal. This city is like the smoke of a flickering earthen lamp, poetry dripping off the tongue like honey, someone foretelling good fortune in times of pain and exile.

Nikhil Bhardwaj is a social media writer and halfwit mechanical engineering student trying to escape the clutches of the ‘neighbour aunty’. He believes the world will make sense when witticism is considered a discipline. He wishes to pursue travel blogging, accompanied by some Charles Bukowski and Pablo Neruda works. Or maybe, Wilde.

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