The City of Shiva, or Holiest of the Seven Sacred Cities

VARANASI, INDIA: The airport is a ways out, took about an hour for us to get near to Varanasi, partly due to the traffic. I was surprised by how far out it is. The car drove to northern edge of Varanasi where I was taken on a boat docked on the Ganges. Greeted by a sweet young woman who offered me a cold towel for my face and hands, placed a strand of Shiva beads around my neck, offered me cold water and a sweet yellow drink to refresh myself as we traveled down the the river. As we drifted past the various Ghats she told me what each one was.

VARANASI, INDIA: I still feel that India does not have much to offer beyond the religious and five star services one comes across in their travels. To walk around the cities you find the desperately poor, repeated over and over again, the squalor and begging, the hustling for money is so prevalent. You try to see the culture and the arts, none of that seems to exist now but everyone wants to capitalise on it, something seems missing. Where is it? There may be more to what meets the eye but if you are not a local it is difficult to see. Being hounded every minute you walk outside to purchase unwanted trinkets and faded postcards from every man, woman and child on the street is the memory you are left with.

Sleeping monkey man
Sleeping monkey man

I feel a captive of the hotel – although it is a beautiful one. The little monkey man outside the window looking in from his naps with understanding eyes. You want to pet them but you know they can be vicious. No need to tempt them. It could be very different if I were a man, or traveling with a man I expect. I would not get as much harassment. This was once a king’s palace, the place where I am staying, on the Ganges, my exotic prison from the heat, the begging and the poverty.

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First Impressions

GURGAON, INDIA: The pollution is no joke. Haze, dust from endless construction, smoke from crop burning, coal fire power plants, gas generators, cars… all combined with a thick humidity.

GURGAON, INDIA: The pollution is no joke. Haze, dust from endless construction, smoke from crop burning, coal fire power plants, gas generators, cars… all combined with a thick humidity. This mixture of smog permeates the sinuses leaving one with a constant dry, chalky taste in their mouth.

I arrived with no problem. My driver was prompt, helping me with my nine suitcases. He was chatting away the entire drive over about his service and experience (he used to work at the US Embassy). His name is Arun Kumar. I have to try very hard to remember people’s names as it does not come natural to me. Continue reading “First Impressions”

Blackpool: it’s as bad as its name

Can a place be as bad as its name? Well, sadly, and I really hate confirming this, but the answer is yes; Blackpool is such a place.

BLACKPOOL, UK: Can a place be as bad as its name? Well, sadly, and I really hate confirming this, but the answer is yes; Blackpool is such a place.

I had my doubts initially. The UK is full of odd places, places that I actually like which co-workers and flatmates say, “ooo, stay away from there!” I’ve been here long enough now to pick up on the prejudices, it must be a northwest sort of thing. Places like Liverpool, Wigan or Bolton, with accents that make those from the south of England cringe. When it came to Blackpool, I was intrigued. What sort of place is named Black – and then – pool? What is it like? Who lives here? What do they do? Just how did it come to be?

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Gold Letter Boxes for Gold Medalists

WIMBLEDON, UK: This is cool. The Royal Mail has started painting letter boxes across the UK gold in honor of TeamGB and paralympicsGB gold medal winners. This particular letter box is on Worple Road in Wimbledon, dedicated to Sophie Hosking for her gold medal in the Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls Rowing. I’m not going to pretend to know what that is, aside from rowing of course, but I love the innovative idea of commemorating these athletes.

See more at: http://www.royalmailgroup.com/london2012#sthash.gnx3K6GA.dpuf

Gold Post Box
Gold Post Box