Up at dawn and caught tuk tuks to the river. We saw a very simple dawn ceremony come to a close on the banks of the river. No one was there except the monks and us. We boarded our boat again.
On our first evening on the river, we gently dropped lotus leaves with rose petals and a lit candle into the Ganga. I think it began to get to me then. We had five each. Five wishes, happiness for everyone, my parents, love for all, peace and one more.
This morning, on the Ganga which was very still, you could barely distinguish the water from the sky. Surrounded by mist we could have been on a different planet. I felt I was in the middle of the most peaceful and endless place on earth. Floating down the river as the mist lifted and the sun rose, we saw the Ghats some to life. It really is a river of life, from new born puppies, kids flying kites, people doing laundry for themselves or hotel guests, yoga, prayers, wedding and pyres prepared for funerals. And everything else in-between that could fit in. You can not help but realise you are looking at a tableaux of the circle of life. This morning, floating there, I knew that I would be a slightly different person disembarking than I was when I got on the boat.
Until this moment I had resisted Varanasi. But it got to me in the end.
Then a boat approached us with a TV on board (powered by goodness knows what) selling DVDs and I come back to earth. Pradeep finds a kite and flies it from the boat.
Got back to the hotel and had breakfast outside. Then Rob, Monica and I hired a tuk and went to Sarnath, which is where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. It’s a very significant place for Buddhists. The gardens were beautiful. It was very peaceful. I took off my shoes to feel the lawn under my feet. The inner peace I feel here is like no other place.
We went to a museum and then our driver took us to show us a couple of temples, a Chinese one and a Japanese one. I recognised one of the chants in the Japanese temple that I’ve heard a points throughout my life. It feels right that it meets me here again today.
We return to the hotel and say our farewells to Tim, Rachel and Jonathan who had to fly to Delhi for Jonathan to make his flight home. Rachel and Tim are heading off to Darjeeling.
Our overnight train to Delhi is delayed, so Margaret and Monica make the decision to get on a flight too, so they don’t miss their flight out of Delhi tomorrow. So, it’s just Rob, Frank, Gaye, Pete, Pradeep and me remain. We are sad to leave for the train station. It’s strange not to have the entire gang here.
The overnight train is a brand new one. We are all in the same compartment. I fell asleep as soon as we departed. I had a comfy night and the best night’s sleep.
DAWN ON THE RIVER GANGA
SARNATH – The place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon.