Writers funk & trying to understand the Ganges River in India.

I’m currently sitting on the rooftop of the Guest House I am staying at in Varanasi. It’s about to be midnight and normally right about now I would be in bed cuddling with Val watching FRIENDS. I know how exciting, but well that is what we have been doing a lot of lately (not cuddling, but watching FRIENDS). The reason I am up here is because it is raining, thundering and lighting like crazy. For some reason I don’t like when it rains, but love when it thunders and lightning. I guess it reminds me of the Texas sized storms we have back at home in Houston. India and the storm are making me miss home more than ever and well for some reason I now also feel like writing.

See I have been in a writers funk lately and I don’t know why. I wrote my 400 days post in a heartbeat, but it then took me forever to finally write about my experience volunteering in Setrawa and if you noticed my last few post have been either IN PHOTOS or filled with a lot of PHOTOS. I am sorry… (even though I do think they are good photos and know people love photos so it’s a win win) its just India really hasn’t inspired me much. Okay I am lying I am also in a travel funk. I know I mentioned I am lost and well yes I am, but right now I am kind of tired of India. I have been here a little over a month and to be honest I don’t like it. I keep telling myself in a few weeks I will be in Southern India and beach hoping around; however I think the reason I don’t like it is because I don’t understand it.

Instead of going on with what I don’t understand about India I am just going to write about what I don’t understand about Varanasi the city I am currently in and will do so in a bit. I have to go back to my room and write because about 5 men are standing around me as I write this staring at my screen and making it very uncomfortable for me to do anything. Oh & we will be sleeping with our backpacks on our beds because the rain has come through the windows and the floor is filled with water.

So yes I am in Varanasi a city where thousands of families bring their beloved dead ones to be cremated and deposited into the Ganges River. Okay I thought I didn’t understand a lot of things, but I guess what I don’t understand is one thing THE GANGES RIVER.

Varanasi, India

Why is it that men & women get their heads shaved all along the river?

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

How is it that people are allowed to cremate their loved ones along the banks of certain parts of the river and have their ashes and remains dropped into the river?

Varanasi, India

How is it that in the same river that bodies are cremated are so many people doing laundry next to cows and children swimming all over?

Varanasi, India

How is it that in the same river that bodies are being cremated at and people are doing laundry at people are bathing as if none of the above is happening?

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

How is it that in the same river that bodies are being cremated at, people are doing laundry at, people are bathing are some people meditating and praying?

Varanasi, India

Then you cross to the other side and it’s lined up with nothing, but trash and a floating dead dog. I then wonder how is it that anyone in the world would want to do anything in this river.

I know most of these questions may seem immature, or may make you think “Really Jaime you are asking these?” Well yes I am writing this because they are questions I wondered and things that crossed my mind. I told you already from the start that I don’t know much about India and I am trying my hardest to enjoy it and learn more, but she is making it difficult to do so because every time we decide to go out and do something we are harassed by touts every step of the way or accused of taking photos of an actual cremation when we know we can’t and didn’t then being yelled at and demanded to make a donation for the poor or settle a price for a boat ride to later be told differently and called lord knows what in Hindi.

The more I travel the more I start to think we are all so alike, but the truth is we really aren’t. Yes we all eat, shit & sleep, but in reality what makes us different are our customs, traditions and how we go about our daily lives. That is drastically different from place to place & one of the things Lady India is showing me is just that. What is normal and okay in one country is not in another. Oh & as my writers funk… well I guess I am having my moments here in India. Sometimes I got it & sometimes I don’t. I will do my best though to continue bringing you honest post about how I am feeling, thinking and seeing on the road.

Oh & last night a HUGE RAT crawled on me twice. The 1st time I thought I was dreaming and the 2nd time I jumped up screamed and woke up Val. She acted like nothing was going on and remained calm, then went back to sleep. I knew it was somewhere on our bed and moments later saw it run to the window and out. Yeah I didn’t sleep the rest of the night and am glad the next day we were leaving Varanasi and heading to Darjeeling.

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  1. It’s gonna be HOT in South India… but it’s a little easier than the North. If you need to get away from the madness, try the backwaters in Kerala, the beaches in Gokarna, or for cooler weather go to Munnar or Coorg.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Satu agree it is hot down here, but so far it’s been okay. Then again we have just been in the south for like a few hours. I think we are actually going to try and do everything you just mentioned. Not sure yet but should know soon.

  2. One of my favorite posts!…..i love it when you share what’s in your mind
    ..i think when death controls ppl mind,don’t ask about weird customs…

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Waheed, I know I always have too much on my mind. I agree with you on that when death controls people mind many of the customs just don’t make sense, but you don’t ask.

  3. I’m not sure if you intended this post to be funny, but it made me laugh. You crack me up. I wish I had some answers regarding the customs of India, but I’m as clueless as you. I’m going to have to Google it. 🙂 Such an honest post. It doesn’t seem like you are in a writers funk!
    Christy recently posted..Camping in Joshua Tree – No Rattlesnakes This Time!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Christy I honestly did not intend this post to be funny, but glad I made you laugh. I know I could do some research online regarding the customs, but a part of me doesn’t even want to know. I think I would rather not understand… keep it a mystery. Oh & normally it’s these crazy post that are my best, I don’t get it.

  4. Watching all of the goings on in that river would be really difficult. India as a whole would be really difficult. You are strong to be sticking it out for three months. I hope southern India works out better for you!
    Sabina recently posted..A Don’t Miss in Luxor – Karnak Temple

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Sabina agree yes India as a whole is very difficult. 3 months is a long time but has given me the opportunity to see a small chunk of this huge country. I am in the south now and hope it works out better.

  5. This is a great, honest post Jaime. Don’t be sorry. I think it’s OK to like some places more than others, and also if I’ve never been to India I can imagine that you can either love it or hate it without a way in between!
    It must be very hard to see such things – a dead dog, burning corpses, dirt and people actually bathing in it!
    So don’t be ashamed and keep on writing about your feelings. I loved this post!
    Giulia recently posted..Ugly architecture in Breuil-Cervinia. Vote for the ugliest building!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yeah Giulia I think what everyone says about India is true you either love it or hate it no in between and well of course we can’t love them all. It would be impossible to love them all… and as for understanding the Ganges river I don’t think I ever will. Glad you liked the post & I will continue to write my feelings.

  6. Nice post Jaime – I spent 6 months in India and spent the entire time bewildered. Even though it’s a hard and sometimes overwhelming place to visit I reckon you’ll look back in a few years time (still confused!) but with fond memories… hindsight is 20/20! I must say even though I thought it was a challenging place I can’t wait to go back. And a possible answer to all the why’s of Varanasi and the Ganges comes down to the absolute holiness of the place. Happy travels – if you get the chance while down south visit Hampi.
    Sarah Allard recently posted..Mountain Biking in Nepal

    • Jaime Davila says:

      BEWILDERED… omg amazing word to use for INDIA. Thank you very much for that word Sarah I mean it. I think that sums it up all. I am sure though few years from now it will be the crazy times in India I remember most. I will be heading to Hampi for sure while I am down here in the South. I’m so excited.

  7. I’ve always heard about the Ganges River but the detail and photos you shared go way beyond the little details I’ve heard before. It sounds horrible and disturbing. I had a hard enough time in Phnom Penh, Cambodia sitting by the river and seeing a woman shampoo her hair in the dirty water.

    And a RAT?!?! I’m never going to India. I can’t handle it.
    Ali recently posted..Changing Plans on the Road

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Ali yeah I honestly don’t think you would enjoy India much. I know it sounds mean of me to say it, but it is just crazy and so much. Some of the things we have seen are very disturbing, and will never understand, but somehow India just works. Oh & the RAT… lord I hated it.

  8. I like the juxtaposition of the photos and questions, lol, and you made me laugh out loud! 😀 Very valid questions. All I know is that I wouldn’t want to dip a toe in that water.
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..London Through Arielle’s Eyes

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Glad I made a few of you laugh with this post, didn’t even mean it! Oh & Audrey trust me I didn’t get near the water. I just kept thinking… “how do they get in there… I just couldn’t”.

  9. I have a really tough time with touts. I know I WANT to go to India, but I’m not sure how well I would do with people constantly encouraging me to buy something I don’t want or need. I only had a little taste of that in Istanbul, and I know India will be much different.

    I’m glad you have Val to travel with, and you two can always leave early! It’s okay not to enjoy a place.
    Heather recently posted..Chasing the dream job: Blogging, food, phototgraphy

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Heather I know touts are such a damn pain in the ass and sometimes just ruin a place for people. I am lucky that in most places when I am alone I just blend in. In Latin America well I am Latin, in Morocco people thought I was Moroccan, in Turkey people thought I was Turkish, in Egypt people think I am Egyptian. It all works in my favor… but in India I do NOT look India so yeah haggled all the time. I’m enjoying my time with Val a lot and well now we are in the south & will see how it is.

  10. A rat!!?!?!?!!?!!!?! Eeeeeeek! To really understand the Ganges you would need to take a Hinduism class. I was a Religious Studies major and my focus was Asian Studies. I can’t tell you how many books I had to read about the Ganges!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Andi’s Pick: La Suite Rio

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Jaja yes Andi a RAT! Crazy… but I guess it’s part of the fun. Yeah I have no clue about the Ganges river, but one day will have to read about it. I think that is the only way I will ever understand it.

  11. Don’t worry what other people will think of your questions/observations, just let them out. India is supposed to be a really tough place and you being honest about it helps others (like me) who want to go.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Ice cream for a cause

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Ayngelina, not going to lie India is a tough one. When & if you make it out here good luck…lol!

  12. I appreciate your post. I think the answer to many of your questions lies in the religious beliefs of the Indian people, and their history and culture. The Ganges is a holy place. Thanks for sharing your photos and questions!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Camella, yeah I have learned that it is a very holy place. It is one very interesting place that is for sure.

  13. FAITH, is the answer to all your questions.
    I take a bath in Ganga at least once every year and its uplifting. It is not only a River for us but our Mother.
    Arti recently posted..Temples of Mathura: Krishna Janmbhumi, Peepleshwar Mahadeo and others

  14. How is it that in the same river that bodies are being cremated at, people are doing laundry at, people are bathing are some people meditating and praying?
    You probably forgot one more thing, People drinking that water!!! Or did you not see that?
    Arti recently posted..Temples of Mathura: Krishna Janmbhumi, Peepleshwar Mahadeo and others

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Oh wow no I didn’t see people drinking it. People drink the water? No way… I mean wouldn’t they get very sick from it or even die?

      • Nothing happens. Never. And its very common to drink, its one of the first things that any pilgrim does when visiting the ghats. I have done comprehensive blog posts on Varanasi, Haridwar, Rishikesh and also the place from where Ganga originates, Gangotri…
        Please check out my blog on my India Travels sometime when you are free, you might understand India better.
        Hope you are having a good time in India:)
        Arti recently posted..Temples of Mathura: Krishna Janmbhumi, Peepleshwar Mahadeo and others

        • Jaime Davila says:

          Oh wow that is interesting. I am really speechless… that is so amazing. Now I see things a lil clearer. I will have to check out your blog for sure when I have a bit more time. Sorry as you know the internet is limited here…lol!

  15. And its once or twice a year because I live in Mumbai, but make special plans to travel to these places just so I can take a dip in Mother Ganga.

  16. Wow, you are not the only person who has said that India is difficult. I’ve also read that it’s even more difficult for solo female travelers and black people. I guess it would be a double whammy for me.
    Paula recently posted..New Themes: Everyday and Origin

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Paula, yes it is just very difficult and can see it even more difficult for a solo female traveller. I know my friend Val who I am traveling with right now hates all the looks and stares and sometimes grabs she gets. Even when we are right next to each other. I don’t know if being black would make it more difficult or not. Being honest with you… I don’t see much black travelers.

  17. Interesting post.. Also because I’m Indian and currently travelling across Asia too 🙂
    After having been in several countries in SE Asia I must admit, India can be a tough one to handle. But most often that’s also part of its charm and why so many people keep coming back for more.
    About the touts, well this is one is the same everywhere in touristic countries be it India, Egypt or even Vietnam where I am currently. There are always gonna be touts waiting to prey on the tourists, (and it doesn’t get more touristic than Varanasi, an inevitable stop on every backpacker’s India itinerary).
    Like someone suggested here, step out from the tourist trail, head to the quieter, less crowded places (is there such a thing in India?!) and experience a different India, you will grow to like it!
    And as for the rat! – change the hotel asap! 🙂
    Lavanya recently posted..Travel Photo of the Week – vol. 17

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Lavanya, I haven’t traveled through SEA yet but have in many other countries and must say India takes the cake…lol. I know touts are everywhere… they are something I am used too because I have been to many tourist sights & everything, but they are just not as agreesive as they are in India. Here they take it to a whole new level. They don’t respect you at all… in other places at least when you say no they pester off. I don’t know it’s just different & i know not to judge any place by it’s touts… so yeah. I am now in the south though and it really is different. They people are much nice and more helpful… I am enjoying it.

  18. Jessika says:

    ok i forgot what this post was about when you said rat… ewwww omg.. i am horrified just thinking of you in that situation. it’s crazy how you are this clean freak but you have animals crawling on you in bed! lol

  19. Very cool post (except for the rat). Trust me, the questions you asked are the same I’ve asked myself more than enough times, and most of them had me NOT wanting to visit India in the (not so)near future. But I’ve decided to be open minded and give it a go. And then you write that a RAT crawled on you….TWICE!!! That would be instant heart attack for me, and have no desire to die in India. I’m not saying that India is not without its beauties, but she is not on top of my “to-visit” list
    Joseph recently posted..Why are some people disappointed in Venice

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Oh I know Joseph I hate rats too and well they are all over India you will see them everywhere…lol so you can’t let that stop you from going there. Just go there with an open mind and enjoy it. Trust me you are going to feel every single emotion you possibly feel towards a country & in the end not regret it. I hope you make it there one day… it will make every other country you visit a breeze.. that is for sure.

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