Uttar Pradesh, India

Sarnath

Among the patrons at the guesthouse was a scholar from Oxford University working on translating Indian and Tibetan texts. After experiencing so many hours of no electricity at this guesthouse, I decided to check out after one night.

This city is supposed to be the quite and peaceful alternative to Varanasi, but it seems a little too close to it’s bigger brother. I was expecting scams at every corner. For example, I entered a park with old ruins and one man asked for my ticket. He tried taking my entire ticket, not just the stub. I remember reading a sign a few minutes earlier that warned of the high fine issued to those found without tickets, so I insisted to keep half my ticket. Can’t trust anyone. (photos)

Sarnath to Varanasi

Apparently there was a bus that went between the two cities, but it was infrequent, slow and crowded. At the advice of the guesthouse owner I took a shared autoricksaw. This involved squeezing as many people as possible into this tiny vehicle, but the price was good. It takes two people to operate it. One to drive, another to walk around and find people. I only had to change to another shared autoricksaw half way in another town. This was acceptable until all traffic on the road stopped due to construction and the driver kicked everyone out. I had no map of this town and no idea how to get to the place where the shared vehicles and buses are, so I just started walking. After about an hour of wandering around the city, I didn’t get anywhere. Finally I gave up and got a normal autoricksaw to the Varanasi train station.

Varanasi

If I had to pick one city as the worst in the world, I’d say it is Varanasi. I had to take another autoricksaw to my guesthouse, so I used the prepaid stand at the train station, although you actually pay afterwards. I didn’t see a single bus in this city and I also made sure I had my earplug in the whole time. I saw some slums as I got near my guesthouse. It is almost like living on a landfill here with houses made out of garbage and cows wandering around eating the rest. I tried eating some street food and then I tried to ask where to put the plate. The Indians were confused, because here this is no such thing as throwing something in a trash can, so I had to throw it on the ground. Later I walked along the ghats, or steps, beside the Ganges river. Some people were bathing and a lot were asking if I wanted a boat ride. Later I saw piles of firewood. And finally I saw fires where dead bodies were being cremated.

There was one positive thing about my guesthouse: free Wi-Fi. That is when there is electricity outside of the scheduled brown outs. I stayed about three days and took a train out of town. The Varanasi train station is terrible. There are no chairs at all on the platforms, there are cows wondering the platforms, and people are forced to sit on the dirty floors. (photos)