On one part of this river, there is a city which is said to be the longest standing living city in the world. Many people come to this city to burn their dead and spread the ashes, to study music, and to find India in its potency.
Along the Ganga (river) there are rows of steps, called ghats. The other day, just before sunset, we went out for a little walk along the ghats.
Let me tell you, the ghats are a different place when you have children. They become wild terrain, a place for climbing and sliding, and mothers shudder because they know these ghats have the filth of a thousand years etched into their stone surfaces. And still the children climb.
The ghats are covered with mud and silt from the river at certain times of year, because the river rises in the swell of the water from the Himalayas, and then settles itself back down again. Sometimes children step onto the mud, believing it will be solid beneath them, and instead their feet are sucked in and covered. They have to be pulled out with a loud SCHWELP!
And their mothers shudder and cover their heads with their hands, because they have seen the dead water buffalos and goats thrown in. And they have stepped over the piles after the men have their morning poos. They sigh and pull out the wipes and the hand sanitizer.
And they sit and have a chai together, just like old times, but with more rescuing of chai cups going on.
I wish I could show you the look of longing that comes over my daughter's face if she ever spots a snake. She is a snake charmer's dream customer.
What will she become, this girl who so willingly twines snakes around her and then reaches out for them and whispers to them?
And now I would like to show you the best photo of the crowdedness here that we have been able to capture.
It has been hard to find time to blog here because we don't have internet at the house we are staying at, and the power is off from 9:00 in the morning until 12:00 and again from 3:00 until 6:00 in the evening. It is hot in that way that slumps you a little and makes you shrink from the normal bustle of folding laundry and picking up.
But we have been having a wonderful time. Our friends here are so incredible. We wish they would move south. As that doesn't seem likely right now, we'll take every chance we can get to be with them.
Chinua took all these photos, and I wanted to show them to you. The next chance I get, I'll show you the ones I've taken.