India Travel Diary 20 : From Varanasi to Agra
Monday April 8th 1991
Slept into to seven am, a night of strange dreams, something sparked by my new Tibetan crystal which I finally moved away from my bed. Sabubu suggests it’s the astro turf influence cuz she did allot of similar dream stuff last night, something we have been practicing. In the dream realm all occupants are merely aspect of yourself, however at times there will be outsiders visiting your dream time. It is possible to meet other people in your dream, the easiest practice is meeting your love partner in the dream. Before you settle in to sleep you take a moment to look into each others eyes, openly and lovingly then when you enter the dream you will recognize them by their eyes though they might not look the same as in real life. Sometimes they might come as animals, and the interesting thing is you might share a place in the dream or an event, but when you recount the dream it will be from the individual perspective, emotion and mental attitude. The dreams were indeed coated in dark forces, outside in the night the cry of mocking birds announcing weird psychic forces at work.
Boys by a temple on Harishchandra Ghat Road
We left in search of a homeopath, and by ten AM we found ourselves being led through the small streets of the old city of Benares by a young boy and to the office of Dr Kuilasnath Jaitly, one of few pulse doctors in all of India. The entire home of Dr Jaitly is made of stone covered in cement and painted a pale blue color, we were lead to a second floor bedroom where an thin old man sat in his bed wearing pajama bottoms and a sweaty baggy white Tshirt. He was wearing large black frame glasses and the lenses have been hazed over concealing his fading eyesight. His brother sat close by and took notes as the old man spoke in Sanskrit. The old man helds my wrist with two fingers, first he did the right hand then the left, he farted and burped and he worked, then in Sanskrit he recited a list of over 12 ailments which had affected me in the last four years, all of them very accurate. Midway thru the diagnosis, Dr Jaitly’s son came in and took over transcribing the Sanskrit into Hindi. His son was a twenty six year old Gemini and Sabubu and him got along, the father then took Sabubu’s pulse, as we were leaving Sabu hit her head on a low doorway, which I could see shifted her energy, I took a picture of her which she did not appreciate but somehow I felt it was important.
Dr Jaitly Sr doing a pulse reading on Sabu
We then went down to young Dr Jaitly’s office and sat as he made notes and we all enjoyed some chai. Then came the diagnosis, the cure and the price, at first we flipped out, we had no idea what the level of commitment was, we had do abstain from sex, eat only certain foods, for the next three months, and that was for both of us. I flipped out, got angry and left, Sabubu followed, as she caught up with me and I settled down we talked it over and went back. finally we agreed that we should maybe surrender and accept this opportunity, I apologized profusely for my base reaction and asked for his forgiveness at ungrateful transgression. In a sweet figure eight motion of his head “acha” as he lifted his hand palm out, “all will be well”, we shook hands bowed politely and left, the remedies would be ready in a few days.
Both of us burnt out we went home to the rock pile where Betty and Wilma hammered bricks into small stones. After six we went to Harishchandra ghat to watch the cremation and do some watercolor. After a while so many men came and dumped their ignorance on us that we got up and went to sit at the burning pyre of two cremations taking place. One body was completely gone while the other was a neck an arm stump legs a chest cavity, a rubber black shape as the fire keeper poked it deeper into the coals. At times the sweet suffocating smoke of cremations wafts up and suspends me in a timeless trance, somehow a remembrance that calms my soul and lets me know that everything is going to be OK.
In the early evening we walked along the ghats and went to have a masala dosa by candlelight, and afterwards we visited a young Brahman antique shopkeeper and we bought matching dark blue Bihar wedding hats. On the way back we came out Dashashwamedh Ghat which is the main ghat where the large parasol Yogi’s and Sadhu’s come in the daytime, there we met a small hunchback who sold us a set of eight dolls representing the main Hindu Deities, we then sat with him for a while talking about Varanasi’s history. I took a picture of him and Sabu sitting together we then walked the Ganga’s twenty or so ghats towards home near the Harischandra where a toad sung away Sabubu’s depression in an instant.
Tuesday, April 9th 1991
We got up early and went to The Restaurant where the keeper burnt this sweet incense hashish like putty, it reminded me of this small piece of incense given to me by Sylvia Yanni while on an art tour in Rome, she claimed it was incense from an Etruscan Tomb. It had such an incredible effect over me, a truly mind altering soul expanding experience.
Earlier we walked to the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, on the way to the restaurant a rickshaw hit me and never stopped, I also had a bottle thrown at me while they yelled something about “Go home American”, remember the Gulf War is still on and we are now in northern India, and to mention I did cut my foot at the Hanuman Temple. But things did turn out for the best when we bought the two swastika Shiva lungies and then we sat in a restaurant eating masalla dosai and tripping on the fabulous incense.
Now we were ready to go to Sarnath, the place of Buddha’s sermons, with our wheel of the law lungies, we sat beneath the banyan tree where Buddha had preached, trying to get some rest and meditate away from the heat of the midday, we also saw fabulous birds, and collected feathers. I found a goat’s upper jaw and teeth but decided I had enough of those so I left it by the side of the road and we made our way back home by auto rickshaw but unlike the ride there, we ended up sharing with a ole saree babe and school boys, in a rickshaw with a leaking fuel line. Back home wrote letters, had some chai and tea biscuits, did a bit of bed top yoga, trying to avoid the over head fan and we passed out. We slept till 5:30 got up and took the ghats way back to Dr Jaitly’s office in old Varanasi, to pick up our medicine. It turned out to be quite an armload of medicine, we spoke with Old Dr Jaitly’s brother and his son for a while. On the way back we realized that Thai customs on the way back might be a problem. The Ayurvedic medicine was in small packets and looked alot like brown heroin, and by the way it tasted like dirt and alum that made our mouths pucker up and dry out, much water was consumed. The medicine tasted allot like the Tibetan medicine balls from Kathmandu.
Brahman shop where we bought our hats
We hurried back to the Brahmin Antique salesman shop a painting for our friend Anna Bogigian who lives in Cairo. We had chai with him and looked at more curios with him. I have always been able to hold certain objects and sense their owners history, so I had a great time, we looked at Shiva hands, nut crackers, a woman and man riding a peacock, and the best was the large square Mogul period coins and miniature one stroke paintings, which we bought for Anna. We then went off to eat and wound up at a small Hanuman Street Temple with a sitar and a banjo blasting through a small one Shiva eyed Amp, with one man on tablas and a man on a melodium reciting verse and praise and comment to Hanuman the had were the Flo and Eddy of the street sadhu set.
The resident holy man push started anyone that came into reach of his midnight temple, Sabubu drew and I played the tambourine, we stayed till late and the streets were empty, we went home and packed for Agra in the morning. Good night, two o’clock in the morning watching the thunder and lightning making it’s way down the Ganga valley once again, drifting to sleep to thunder clasps and blue lightning light illuminating our room.
Wednesday, April 10th 1991
Sleep until 5 AM. Azan and to the ghats for a ride to Aurangzeb Mosque at Hindu Ghat come Islamic Mosque. ah 10 AM two hours to train time 16 hours to Agrahhhhhhhhh Taj Mahaland. We took our last walk to the Ganga to get a bottle of water. When we got there, Sabubu dropped off her Bovine Sex Club T shirt. We went to Harishchandra ghat, and there by the two burning pyres with that sweet smoke and the floating dead donkey, the swimming man and the woman doing her laundry, I had prepared a small clean bottle, and I filled it and capped it. I reached down and took the water into my hands and lifted it in front of me to the sky, then I brushed it over my head and forehead and namasted a short prayer to the wonder of the Ganga and the Earth Mother.
As I walked along the river bank I was caught by a shape on the beach and I reached down to pick it up, but an instant before touching it realized it was someone’s un-cremated index and palm, “do not pick up interesting objects on the beach in Varanasi”, something to remember when walking around ghat’s.
Returned to the hotel to head for Agra, on the train platform at one stop we did the white museum while Indian men watched us (the white museum is a collection of misleading white people behaviours that we have perfected to confuse onlookers, this is something I first started when I was touring with the Fastwurms in Japan). Soon the fourth wall collapsed and they started talking to us, they boasted that the largest bananas in India came from this area, wherever that was, we had been riding on the train for hours. One man shook my hand and when he shook Sabu’s he howled like a woman and ran off screaming waving his arms in the air. We told them we were married and had two children, Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, we said we wanted to bring them along but they were too small to travel.
We continued to roll along, one day into our sweet pungent ayurvedic gritty like dust and dirt medicine. I have so much to work out on myself, my guilt which locks me into certain predictable patterns of behaviour, my anger which makes me reckless and unfocused, my sense of wanting to be accepted by compromise. We slept in the coupe, sleeping and spooning till our 4:30 AM arrival in Agra.
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Well the Taj Mahal I must say “Now that’s a tomb.
Napo at the Taj Mahal
Thursday April 11th 1991
On arrival we got a ride with Amin auto rickshaw pilot and we hired him for our visit as tour guide. A very upfront guy who for ten rupees took us exactly to where we wanted to go, the Agra Lodge which turned out to be a large round Colonial property, with allot of green gardens. It was six AM, sunrise as we looked back across General Cariatpa Road, across the golf course towards the rising sun, the Taj Mahal appearing pale blue against a lilac sky, with isolated pale pink clouds, ooohh. We retired in one of the outside rooms of our Gandhi roulette wheel room . We slept until eleven; we had made plans for the next day with Amin as our tour guide to Agra.
This conclude the first part of my India Travel Diary, with over thirty thousand words written and possibly another hundred thousand to go. My next entry will be photos of the trip, but not all of the thousand images I will also include some of the one hundred watercolors. I have been working on this manuscript in hopes of eventually completing a book of this journey. Reader wherever you are, I hope you enjoyed the reading to date, please stay subscribed for other journeys and experiences and thank you for reading and possibly laughing from time to time. Make your way to India, I assure you most sure and certain it will breathe life into your heart and soul. NB