By Sarah Grimaldi
I visited Agra, Delhi,
and Chennai, my most memorable visit in India
was the city of Varanasi.
Each of these cities gave me a cultural sense of India
struck me as the most unique with differences I have never witnessed
before. Varanasi is considered a sacred
city and is home to the
River. As my
travel partners and I made
our way to the river at 5am, the streets were filled with small tea
stands, and also several vendors selling goods. As I observed the
that surrounded me, a parade of men sang a religious song as they
me heading to the sacred River Ganges. The Indian people perform ritual
in this river and bodies are cremated with ceremonial importance.
there are dead bodies and animals in this same sacred river. My tour
informed me that even if people become sick from this highly polluted
they believe that it is sacred and have become sick from some other
Sickness from the Ganges
was no form of modern infrastructure whatsoever in the city of Varanasi. The
stores are shacks with few
items to choose from, and the barber shops consist of mirrors hung
a chair in front. The smell of mildew reflected the battered- down
that surround the city. There were cows, wild dogs, and monkeys roaming
streets and bathrooms seemed nonexistent as the streets seemed to fill
place for the animals and the people. In juxtaposition to these sites
beautifully decorated temples scattered throughout the city. The people
temples and shrines once, twice, or even three times daily.
I observed the infrastructure in Varanasi,
I reflected on the fact sheet I read about Chennai and Mumbai. What I
in Varanasi is only a small portion of India.
having a surge of foreign investment and Mumbai with its huge
industry and skyscrapers are completely different from this city with
two story building in it. The fact sheet read that Navi Mumbai is one
largest planned city projects of the world. Varanasi seemed to be completely
The barely paved roads and traffic chaos made it seem even more distant
we walked through Varanasi,
countless vendors and beggars bombarded us because we were foreigners.
particularly unique about this situation is that the Varanasi vendors
would at first speak to us
in a foreign language such as Spanish or French.
This strongly reinforced the idea of globalization
and how it affects
communication. Not only are multiple languages spoken in important
and financial centers, but even in a developing city such as Varanasi at the
remote River Ganges.
Witnessing the most distant forms of lifestyles and environment I am
to, the city of Varanasi
strongly tested my understanding of another culture unlike ever before.
I have made an accomplishment by beginning to understand the people of Varanasi through
observations and appreciating it as highly enriched learning experience
am grateful for.