If At First You Don’t Succeed

It appears that my previous post encountered some technical difficulties. This is a good thing. It was laconic and ill-tempered, in spirit if not in substance. I might have been sick, and I might have been gloomy, but maybe that’s not what I want this blog to be about. Simply bear in mind, as you read, that there’s probably more to the story than I’m telling you.

*Note: I am without my camera, and uploading pictures is a drag anyway, so make do without for now.

Let’s hop to it then!


“So you’re going to throw that statue into the river?”

“No,” Atul corrected me, “we are going to put it in the river.” He illustrated this with a gentle placing motion, with his hands. He was wrong, though.

“Saraswati mai ki!”



I’d never seen a large clay sculpture being tossed into a river before. Here in Varanasi, however, it is a common sight. Every day is a festival.

“If someone tried to stop religion here, the economy would collapse,” Jayjay told me, as we were sitting at Atul’s place, waiting for him to find the necessary manpower to haul said statue to the docks and load it on the not-so-large boat (manpower which ended up including yours truly.) He’s right, of course. The pilgrimages, the offerings, the festivals… Indians seem to substitute for luxury and entertainment with religion, in terms of spending excess funds. Not a bad trade: Our road leads us to obesity, and guilt; theirs leads to Nirvana.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” I later apologized before Pranjal, sitting again at Atul’s, “we were throwing… I mean, putting a statue of Saraswati in the river.” He wagged his head in that hallmark Indian way, and mumbled something, clearly agitated in his quiet way. As well he should be. I was over half an hour late for my flute lesson. Oh, well. Indian time goes both ways. If I have to suffer it, so do they, though I seem to be getting in the habit of abusing it a little too much.

One thing playing the flute has in common with traveling in India: They only work if you keep a smile on your face. And that’s all I have to say about that.


Did I mention I’m in Varanasi now? Oh, and Atul is the Hebrew-speaking proprietor of a music shop/school (the two go together here – whatever tourists are willing to pay for is fair game – or unfair.) He’s something of an Israelophile. He holds us Israelis in high regard, and is even planning a visit to Israel. He has Hebrew books on his shelf, speaks English with an Israeli accent, and – most telling – wears a pair of Shoresh sandals.

Thanks to him, by the way, I am now the proud owner of a brand new guitar! I’ve been feeling out the market for days now, all the while itching for the feel of steel strings beneath my fingers. Today, it finally happened. This is a big day for me. Be happy.

You might be wondering what became of the Kumbh Mela, and what my experience there was. Well, I had my fair share of adventure and misadventure in that place. But those are other tales, and will be told another time. Suffice it to say, most of my camp-members actually migrated here, to Varanasi, so I have no shortage of friends. Hooray!

And now, to conclude the post, a poem about traveling:

To Wake In A Faraway Land

Tomorrow, I will greet the misty sunrise with a yawn

as I gaze upon a gray world blushing, floating gently from its slumber

with the dawn


I will trudge through green cathedral jungles

stained-glass, every-color birds for window-panes

snakes, and centipedes

for death eats life

and life eats death

and wondrous things I see tomorrow

never shall be seen again


And from the tallest spires of the greatest cities, I will see

massive temples, resplendent palaces of shining walls

soaring, arching, intertwining

weaving a tapestry, the human story

of pride, ambition, glory, folly too

for every thing that rise, must also fall


And then morning will roll away

afternoon sky will deepen

the sun, having, too, walked a mighty trek this day

shall nudge me,

“It’s time to find a place to rest our heads,”

it might say

And its thoughts are my own, as we both prepare to sleep:

we both miss our homes, and our family and friends

but now it’s time for bed,

and for dreams about chocolate.