TO SEE MANY AMAZING AND REVEALING PHOTOS SEE MY PHOTO LINK https://db.tt/PhAOfzog.
I now live at Assi Ghat. Ghats are the steps down to the sacred Ganges River (the Ganga), which is the place of sustenance, purification and life and death. The River and water are incredibly revered in the lives and deaths of Hindus. Yesterday there was a ceremony for childless couples. The husbands and wives were dipped in the ancient water to be blessed in the future by a child.
One of my next posts will include many photos of various ghats that I will visit on a boat tour, including where the dead bodies are cremated.
Assi Ghat is the southernmost ghat of the city of Varanasi. It is open to my exploration and has many convenient shops and friendly and helpful people.
Because of the limited time I had to move from the poor location of the yoga school, I moved to a pricey hotel in Assi Ghat for 3 weeks. This time is almost gone, and I have located a much cheaper room in a communal house, where several people I know live. It is a relief to anticipate spending my money on cooler cotton clothing and healing instead of most of my available money going to the hotel room. There is no air conditioning in my room in the new house but the weather is less oppressively hot, and I will be less of a tourist with no ac.
FOOD FOR A HEALTHY TRAVELER
As a retired organic farmer and aging but independent person, my health, and what I eat, is very important to me. When one is traveling from country to country and doesn’t have the money to insulate oneself from public transportation, cheap lodging, and intimate interaction with the people and food of the country, one gets illnesses. I have been sick, and had to find means of healing, in every country in which I have traveled. But I have been very careful to hunt for shops and restaurants with healthy and naturally grown foods.
Presently I have heat induced acne on my face and no Diana Rose Skin Cream, the wonderful cream I have been making, using and selling for many years. I am searching for witch hazel. My teacher Smirit is helping me get special cream, hopefully today when I come for a massage from one of her pupils. I hope to work on Smirit’s neck before my massage.
I have several restaurants here that I patronize, especially Aum and Open Hand restaurants. More importantly, my new house has a kitchen, which I will be able to use. Also an Indian woman comes in daily to my new home and cooks for the residents of the house. I will buy many of the staples. I have found a shop with good bread, brown rice, peanut butter, tahini, mango jam and other goodies. The owner buys ingredients from his uncle’s organic farm. There is a daily produce market on the street.
A photo of me with Jaya, my sweet little mango, the daughter of the owner of my favorite shop.
ENGLISH TEACHER DIANAJI
I have started teaching at Seed For Change or Semilla Para Cambio, www.seedforchange.org. This is a Spanish NGO, which works only in Varanasi, India. The organization helps educate the children of the families who live in 7 nearby rag picker slums. The families are almost all Muslim, who fled the horrors of drought, flood, war, devastation and starvation of Bangladesh and Bengal and settled in Varanasi, feeding their children by working at the lowest job in society. The mother in the photo below is 34, her daughter 16 and her little granddaughter.
They are strong and generous people.The families are all two parents. The men take responsibility for their families and, unlike in many modern societies, don’t desert their wives and children. The women are assimilating themselves and wear saris, not burkas! See my three burka photos in my PHOTO LINK. Some of the mothers work through Seed for Change, making jewelry, hand painting of silk fabric, etc. The participating parents realize the importance of education to ascend from the terrible poverty.
The children are delightful and so eager to learn! We have fun reading, conversing, dancing. There are 5 classes, and I teach one a day from 0915 to 1045. Then the children eat an early lunch (as well as receiving breakfast at 8 am), all paid by the NGO, go home to wash at the pump and change to their uniforms and go to Montessori schools in the afternoon, where their tuition is paid by Seed for Change. See my photo link for more photos of the kids!
VISITING MAHARANI COLLEGE AND MEETING THE QUEEN
I went to Maharani (QUEEN) College with my yoga teacher and healer Smirit, much more about her in my next post. Among the ceremonies (Indians LOVE ceremonies; they even gave ME a momento of the occasion!), Smirit gave a 2 hour yoga presentation to the young, rural born women who attend this college for a 3 year Bachelors of Art. Many of them become teachers and social workers.
The QUEEN of Varanasi attended. When she arrived I tried to take a photo but was told by the female head of the college that this is forbidden. The Queen smiled at me, and I bowed and said “namaste”.
After the two hour presentation and all the ceremonies, about a dozen of us got snacks, water and tea in a private room. The Queen sat at the head of the table chatting about education with her subjects but not eating and drinking because she is royal, and we are commoners.
She was very gracious, although she never acknowledged me again, the American tourist about 10 feet away. I just sat there, very excited about my experience, especially when she gave her phone number to Smirit so she could come to the Palace to give her a yoga lesson. For those who want a description – the Queen is 45, stout, wears glasses and had on a green, silk gauze sari.
MUCH MORE ON LIFE IN VARANASI IN MY NEXT POST…
Posted from WordPress for Android