Friday, June 13, 2008

Pilgrimage Special: Plan Spoilers

The train delay reminded me of my first visit to India. Then, a train had turned up only the next day. We were waiting for it one night and being a first timer, our group had foolishly, waited in the cold of the night when we could be waiting in a warm waiting room and I would be tempted to say that we got chilled to the bones -yes, it was really, really cold in North India in December, especially in Agra, New Delhi, Jaipur and Simla, which were some of the places which we had visited then. Some people seemed to think that India is a hot, tropical country but that was in summer and probably, that too, was South India, which I had yet to set foot on. North India has summer and winter but while it was cold there in winter, there is no snow except in Simla and some other places like Kashmir. I did not feel so cold in the Buddhist pilgrimage sites like Lumbini, Sarnath and Bodhgaya which I thought was strange since these places, I thought, are located further north and should be colder. Initially, I attributed this to the comfort which we were traveling in. Unlike my first trip where we stayed in cheap, cold, dirty hotels and were out in the streets most of the time, this time around, we were always in a warm coach and a warm bed in a warm hotel with good food to boot. Of course, the map of India shows that the Buddhist sites are not further north as I thought they should be. Anyway, the train delay in both cases had spoiled our plans...

A gathering crowd at Varanasi railway station...


Vendors at Varanasi railway station...


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