Varanasi! A most venerated of Vaticanesque holy places, located alongside the viscous river Ganges, this vestige of spirituality lures many a vagrant and pilgrim, not for vacationing but to vanquish one’s sins and wash away venial indiscretions of the past.
As veteran travelers my very good friend Brian and I were not, we almost fell victim to the villainous touts, our vulnerability made evident by large packs on our backs, but a virtuous few helped us, much to the vexation of the would-be scammers.
Eventually venturing out onto the river for evening vigil our boat driver rowed vigorously on our voyage. The vibe was chill, a nice escape from the vicissitudes of everyday life that left my spirit vivified. People bathed in the vermilion colored waters, washing their bodies and variegated clothes.
The river waters, unfortunately, were virulent, a volatile mix on the verge of toxicity, but that people vehemently proclaimed was essential to one’s vitality.
Our verbose tour guide spewed volumes of vague information, none we could verify, before vivaciously venting his frustrations at dating foreign women, done in vain as I admired the visage of the buildings on shore, my attention vacillating as I admired the vastness of the river. Then, vilifying hippie travelers for their venal lifestyles, verily he proclaimed that he was a “holy man”, committed to certain veritable values and a more valorous existence than those tie-dye wearing, pot-smoking, virtue-less visitors.
This visit was one I will not soon forget. Free of vice and violence, Varanasi had a veneer of simplicity that hid a more spiritual and complicated world. The variety of people and laid back atmosphere allowed me to live vicariously through the hippies and holy travelers, but I vowed to one day return for a less vacant experience.