I Hate Varanasi

I’ve really been here for too long now, which has not been helped by becoming significantly more ill since my last entry. According to the doctor’s tests, I have a chronic E-Coli infection with a low red blood cell count. I looked it up on the internet, and it can have a 9 day incubation period, so it is possible I became infected the moment I set foot in India! Apparently it can’t be treated, but the doctor has given me loads of pills which I think are starting to make me feel better.
There are many things about India and Varanasi which are annoying, and my tolerance levels aren’t helped by a constant level of nausea and low-energy.

Things I hate about India/Varanasi:
Oh My God, the touts! They are relentless and even physically grab hold of your arms and legs. They try to get your attention when you’re in the middle of a conversation and will not be put off with a ‘No’. They are agressive and are everywhere. They have no humour or sense of play about what they do, they’re like automatons. They also stalk you before they even say anything to you with the subtlety of a brick. It feels like swimming along with people grabbing on to your legs and arms before they’ve even said anything to you. Sometimes they stand right in front of you to make you stop, and seem surprised when I push them out of the way after asking them to move.

If you actually want to buy anything in a shop, people will lie about what they have until you prise out of them that actually they don’t have what you want. This makes shopping very slow and tedious.

Indian people love to talk, but they really don’t listen at all well and are completely uninterested in anything relevant you have to say.

Most people will stare at you with no trace of a smile. I find it quite threatening.

Men constantly approach Kate in a predatory way, even when I am right next to her. I have no idea how to deal with this without punching them.

Nobody seems to know how to cook in Varanasi. The food is awful, and obviously made by people who aren’t cooks. I’m really not exaggerating!

Everything takes so long. If someone says that something will take 10 minutes, it will take 3 hours.

For a country that is supposed to be so spiritual, everyone is surprisingly materialistic. The main topic of conversation is money and all the stories centre around it as the main theme.

Nobody will ever smile to you or say ‘Hello’ without eventually ending up wanting something. This is really demoralising, as I don’t want to have to ignore everybody.

I don’t like curry.

But from what I gather, we’re really not in the best place to appreciate the best of India, and I’ve not been well enough to rise above all the annoyances. As soon as I feel better, we’re out of here!

The good things about India:

Children are very uninhibited and happy, which is nice to watch.

I love the cows.

I’m not in England!

I can learn new musical instruments.

The holy men in India are amazing, and have an energy about them which you’ll never find in Western people.

We have time to listen to music and watch videos which I didn’t have time for in England. I’ve got Karajan’s Wagner Ring Cycle which we’ve been listening to each evening for an hour, and we’ve also been watching series 2 of Lars Von Trier’s ‘The Kingdom’ and also watching loads of old Twilight Zones. I have stacks of videos and music to keep us entertained for months!

I love roadside shaves. Apparently, Indian men don’t know how to shave because it’s so easy to have somebody else shave you.

Everything is cheap. It’s especially cheap to have clothes made. The cloths are amazing.

The Hindu religion is beautiful.

There are loads of festivals.

One month with E-Coli has enabled me to lose almost all the excess flab I wanted to get rid of!

Anyway, there was a festival on my birthday (35 now, yikes!) celebrating the Goddess Saraswati (music, learning, language). The day after, all the statues are thrown into the Ganges which we photographed from a boat:


5 Responses to “I Hate Varanasi”

  1. Peter Carr Says:

    Ouch, that sounds really nasty. Hope you get well soon. Nice shots though. That statue looks a bit creepy.

  2. KarenNfld Says:

    Your photos are so colourful and I loved your list of likes and dislikes too, very interesting! I hope you get better soon, e-coli can be dangerous!

  3. Dan Says:

    Yikes, sounds like you’re having a real rough trot. Still, your photos are looking good.

    Another photographer i like from Sydney appears to be in Varanasi at the moment. He’s been posting photos to his flickr stream.

  4. Bob Rose Says:

    Some great shots there! Small world…

  5. bhavana Says:

    hi bob and kate,
    here in florida (i’m with my mom at her retirement home) i have time — at long last — to take a tour through your on-line gallery. what beauty and pespective, what an eye! and i like your ironic comments as well. i just want to say thanks to you, and also to all the technicians who’ve been making it possible for a creative talent like yours to be fully expressed… fully? proably not, but a whole lot more than a show or even a series of shows could do.
    just wanted to appreciate you as a part of the Whole which i adore.

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