20 June 2006

float my bones in the water from the river

so after i wrote that huge thing about not making generalizations and trying to be accepting..
we got to the train station and spread our blanket upon the pavement to wait and read trashy magazines. this piqued the interest of 4 young men who came over and stood around us in a semicircle; others saw that there were men standing in a semicircle and therefore something Interesting must be going on, and soon there were about 20 men standing in two rows around us.
Payel, payel, this is not a zoo! this is weird!
 we kept shouting at them.
finally just as we began to get concerned that the situation was getting out of hand, the train came. five hours later we stumbled off in varanasi just before dawn and arrived at a hotel next to the ganges right as the sun was coming up over it 
the streets were empty except for people and animals sleeping and
a body wrapped in yellow being carted down the street towards the river
then sleep and a pilgrimage to six temples, then i felt a fever rising and retired early but no dice..it was 97.2 degrees in the room and i thought my bodywas burning alive. i came to in the middle of the night delirious with nightmares so bad rachel claims i was crying out for hours in my sleep.  
this city is one of the oldest continuously lived-in places in this part of the years--something like 18,000 years. the river is awe inspiring and unspeakably filthy (1.5 million fecal coliform per drop).
today i woke up and we checked out of our room but i was feeling incredibly sick so we went to a nearly abandoned hotel (it is the offseason) and at first my head was on the table, then i was laying across two chairs, then finally i sank to the stone floor, much to the concern of the manager, who offered rachel a sheet and pillow for me. i would have laughed if id had the energy.
after id rested a while we went down to the river and looked out across the floodplains...nakid little boys, holy men, teenagers chillin and women doing the wash. a man offered his boat for an hour.
a partially decayed child's scull floated on the bank by our feet.
then we were rowed upstream for an hour past the ghats where they prey. 
 people being cremated with all the wood weighed out in huge scales.
so now im in a basement off the main road, eyes burning with dust and starting to feel feverish again. fortunately tonight we gon hop another train, but this one for maybe 40 hours. yes, yes--train wheels have the most distinctive rhythm of any mode of transportation ive yet experienced 

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