David Taylor

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In Varanasi

Published February 22nd, 2014

In Varanasi:

City of light, home of death, where the living seek karmic closure for their deceased. A man labours in his futile attempt to sweep the dust off the squalor. Here the streets are filled with manure and mayhem. Women lay out flowers before passers-by – offerings to the holy river – while a man pisses against a will. A sacred cow steals a cabbage from a vendor – its wage for existing.

Rickshaw drivers relentless in their greetings offer salutations and seek rupees in return. They circle like seagulls about tossed breadcrumbs.

Dogs lay and wander aimless inn daylight; at night, they yell and cry and tear at the darkness and one another.

Along the ghats, men solicit the hapless with offers of boat rides – they will take you to the funeral pyres, the promise. Peering at pyres from a distance.

At the flaming site a robed caretaker of the dead and dying offers to enlighten the tourist. He shows these one-shot disciples the eternal fire. This edification is cheap: 385 rupee ...

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