My 300 rupees (US$7.25) fan-cooled room overlooked the lawn. There’s a nice balcony. There’s the usual not quite right feel as with almost everything else here. The bed is a double made up with 2 single grey-white sheets. The tap drips terribly. The floor though not quite clean, is marble. I’ve noticed that in general people move dirt around spreading it evenly rather than actually clean it up. Nevertheless, the Hotel Surya and its garden is a haven from the insanity and chocking fumes of Varanasi. I could not keep my eyes open in traffic for the dust flying into them.
Human nature is such that one appreciates “having” best when one is “not having”. Not having broadband in Bodhgaya was necessary for me to enjoy broadband here at the oasis of hotel Surya in Varanasi. The tranquility of breakfast on the lawn is a refuge from the craziness outside the gates. Surrounded by the exuberance of lush dahlias bursting with colour, and the bougainvillea heavy with blossoms, the India train station madness and bumper car traffic seems very far away. I reflect on the concepts of duality and polarity. Where is left if there is no right? How do you appreciate non-toothache if you’ve never had a root canal?
The elderly waiter brings the menu and nods approvingly at my breakfast order – paratha and India chai. “You buddhist, madam?” I think the Lonely Planet is dead right about women wearing the Salwar Kameez. It’s a badge of respectability. Many evil and badly dressed western women venture into Varanasi alone it seems.
At the next table the raucous bunch of English students discuss the previous evening’s activities and congratulate one another on having done the sunrise tour of the river Ganges this morning. The main character, taking up way too much air-time, appears to be the ungainly chap in orange travel pants and non-matching strip shirt who proclaims that he shall spend all of his 200 pounds . Their Indian friend, who’s wearing a pair of white terry-cloth bedroom slippers (on the lawn) look worried.
Varanasi was old when Rome was founded, but most of it’s buildings are only a couple of hundred years old. The Mughals and other infidels had sacked much of it’s old glory. Tomorrow or thereafter I shall bravely venture out to the famous river at dawn and do my tourist’s duty.