Namaste! Phew, India has been one amazing experience so far, I'm not sure where to begin. I guess first I'd have to say that being met at the airport, instead of being the meeter, was awesome! Liv even had a sign made - what a star! After present delivery - big thanks to everyone for weighing down my bag with essentials for Liv (such as m and ms) and biggest catch up into the early hours of the morning, I was officially in India!
Wanting to head out of Kolkata pretty much straight away we decided to investigate the Indian railway with a 14 hour trip to Varanasi. I would have to say that our top bunks in a 3 tier sleeper class were slightly more spacious than those on a certain boat... just. However, flying for a few days, hiking around Singapore in the heat and talking until 4am does make for one exhausted traveller so I slept suprisingly well... until 5am when the chai man came past yelling far too loudly for such an ungodly hour.
Varanasi has to be one of the most peaceful places I have visited. The first afternoon we were there we ended up talking to the guy who ran of the 2 burning ghats along the Ganges river. He explained to us how people of all religions; Hindu, Buddist and others were burned here to become pure after death. One would think that getting the process of how you burn a body, how much wood you need, what is done with the bits that don't fully burn and even being shown piles of bones would have been quite gross but in the context of why, it was actually beautiful. The whole place had such a peaceful atmosphere and in the early morning and evenings the ghats along the river were packed with people washing, praying, relaxing and talking.
It was at the Asi ghat, right next to our hotel, where we watched the sunset on our last night there. We were sold some flowers by 10 year olf Pablo Picasso who spoke french and english. Although Im hoping it was my kiwi accent that made him take my age being 19 as 90 "10 away from 100!"
India gets 10 out of 10 for the food, minus a few points for the fact that we are having to learn how to avoid getting completely ripped off. Also, heaps of points taken off for the constant staring, which no, giving a glare back after 3 hours of permanent starage does not work. But at least things like that are easy to laugh off when your travelling with someone.
so we are now in Dehra dun, aka the middle of nowhere, deciding our plans for the tomorrow. We may possibly have gotten here aiming to go to Leh but from here it is about 4 days of bus rides... and although we have been pretty impressive with our invention of games to entertain ourselves for long trips, I think spending that long in a bus would not be the most memorable way to see India. So we are off to make some decisions while visiting the sweet shop - such a hard life!