It’s not always easy to write about a place after you have already left. Nepal is the one place with the most stories but holds blank pages in my journal. I felt as if I was in an alternate life during my stay here. We had just left our 2 month stay in India, I had just finished my yoga teaching certification, just turned 27, got engaged, and on our last leg of our one year journey (for now). I couldn’t find a way to unravel my thoughts into words. I couldn’t decipher my love for Kathmandu, our little San Francisco dream incarnated in the East. The streets and the people sang so much color and history. Sacred stupas rose high among blue skies heavily strung with prayer flags. The hustle and bustle (I have now come to miss) just a street away from serene mountain-scapes and solitude. I will admit, a ping of post travel depression hit me just at the thought of leaving this place. It was so far opposite of the pace and lifestyle I knew in Austin, TX but I knew within a matter of weeks I would have to let go of our life as we knew it overseas. I started asking myself if the colors would be this bright once I was back home, or if I could feel THIS much. Now as I slowly sort through our photos I relive it all over again and couldn’t be more excited to share with you a city of beautiful energy, Kathmandu.
Sometimes it is the least picture perfect moments that end up being the most picturesque. Varanasi is definitely one of those places I can never really begin to unravel. I have pieces of writings in my journal, an attempt to re-write in my iphone notes, a few drafts on the blog, but it’s almost impossible to put into words something that intense and mind-altering. We left the beautiful Tibetan town of Dharamsala filled with artsy cafes, prayer flags, immense mountain beauty and English conversations with backpackers for one of the oldest cities in the world: Varanasi. We found ourselves outside of our comfort zone all over again, and an all too familiar feeling.
Mark Twain once said: “Varanasi” is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”
The ancient streets were just wide enough for two people to walk by or one cow. We were here during the end of May, and the heat was almost too much to bare. The smell of dung (dog, cow, and people) simmered on concrete as you step over piles of rubble. There is no road signs or road names and I felt as if these alleyways were winding in every direction beneath my feet. You faced all shades of life and death and every facet of holy sadhus. Here you see Hinduism practiced fully all day, it’s a sacred experience and it’s easy to understand how this is the holiest city. As you pass by open windows, many are inside their homes praying to their alters. Crowds push by you as they rush to a ceremony or head to the Ganges. The Ganges display a visual that will have you feeling everything at once. To see people bathing in the same place that ashes of the dead float on is hard to grasp. Varanasi made me realize just how powerful these uncomfortable situations are, and the lessons behind the strangeness of life. It reminded me of how sheltered I am, how little I know, and how there are infinite truths I am still left to question.
We arrived in New Delhi last night and the past 24 hours has been sensory overload. As me and Aaron sat in a dark restaurant where the power was out, we couldn’t help but thrive off India’s loudness. The people were loud, the colors are loud, the flavors are loud, the smells are loud, and the honking is even louder. It’s exactly the culture shock we were looking for, the kind of shock where you can’t help but do a double take. Where cows cross the traffic, past the holy men, all in the midst of women in bright saris balancing baskets on their heads.