The three people I met in Varanasi

Ok so the train is apparently running 1 hour late so we are not being picked up until 9pm from here. The others have gone down to Assi Ghat but I stayed here. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and in need of a bit of peace,quiet and contemplation. I thought I’d capture something about some of the people we have met because really they are the most amazing part of our trip so far.
First of all Prem our guide yesterday. He is a Regional guide who is allowed to work freelance. He is married with two children and probably in his late 30s. He speaks extremely good English and is a local of Varanasi having attended the University we went to yesterday. His degree was in physics which he was very proud of but became a tour guide presumably either because he couldn’t find a job in the physics field or because it paid better. He had then had to take numerous exams to get a job as a Regional guide. Good fellow.
Next we met Raj. This was yesterday when were going to another cafe called The Open Hand. Raj is a postcard seller. He is a lad of about 16 who has a badly disfigured face and contorted feet that kind of face the wrong way. His spot is clearly outside the cafe and we watched from the balcony where we had our cappuccino and muffin as he approached every single European person who came and went to try and sell them a few postcards. He worked really hard chasing people up the street but didn’t seem to get much success. In between he rested in what looked like a specially adapted tricycle. So when I went out I decided to buy some cards from him. Enid told me I had to barter him down so I did. But really I can’t be bothered with all that so I bought 2 cards for £1 which, from the smile on his face and little snigger, he clearly thought he’d done rather well on. Good lad.
Last but not least we met lots of children down by the ghats. These kids live in such squalor and poverty you can’t imagine. Some of them have to beg for money,some were playing with makeshift kites in the mud. All of them smile when Jane or Joyce gives them a sweety. But the boy who stood out was one who came up to us this morning right at the end of our walk along the ghats. He was dressed in brightly coloured t shirt and shorts and he was about 10. His hair was shiny and clean and he said to us in the most perfect English “Excuse me madam. Which country is it that come from? Oh England- v nice. London or Manchester? Do you have any English pounds? I would like to take one home to my room , I collect them. No? Do you have any rupees? No? Ok then do you have any candy? Thank you very much- where is this made? Oh England- v good. Perhaps you could bring me an English pound later”. We didn’t catch his name but his broad smile and perfect manners certainly made a huge impression. We hope he is able to go to school and that perhaps one day he’ll be able to put his English to good use , go to University and become a tour guide. Good boy.

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9 thoughts on “The three people I met in Varanasi

  1. Mike Allen

    Since when did u get cappuccino in India? I remember the days when u couldn’t even get a coca cola.
    Who said anything was wrong with a little globalization?
    Enjoy the train journey and perhaps you should try a chai from one of the chai wallahs at a station. Where did u think Mr. Starbuck got the idea for a Chai Latte from?

    • Ken & Brenda Allen

      Thanks for your cards. We are enjoying your blogs – a tiring but interesting experence. WE are going to see the tigers at the zoo and hope that you see them in the wild Love Dad & Mum

  2. Mike

    Does inactivity mean you’re still waiting on Varanasi platform on your 100th chai?

    • Oh my goodness how close to the truth this was!! Cannot believe nothing has changed since you were here 20 years ago!!

      • Mike

        Loved your last post – so eloquently put. I’m glad beloved India is living up to all your expectations.
        When ‘they’ say your never more than 10 feet away from a rat, do you suppose that needs revising down when you’re in India? Maybe 10cm?

      • I think you maybe right Mike! I didn’t mention the rest of the rat’s family that we saw all over the platform when we came out of our luxury lounge……

  3. Mike

    Looking forward to the (night?) train journey to Ranthambore already. Watch out for ur Stuart Little friends getting into ur luggage, after the luxury imported cuppa soups.

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