Page 32 - Adelante June 2020
P. 32

TRAVEL TIDBITSA LESSON OF COMPASSIONFROM AN UNEXPECTED SOURCEWith everything that is going on in the world, I find myself thinking more than ever about the concepts of grace, selflessness and compassion. I guess that is why my favorite, most meaningful Zoom Vacations travel moment keeps popping into my mind. It took place in the holy city of Varanasi. Let me put things into perspective.Imagine you are walking up 8th avenue in Manhattan, and the buildings have been stripped of their facades, revealing coarse brick, mortar, and cinder block. Now give them all a nice coating of gray dust with an additional half inch of dust on the street, blurring any hint of lane lines. Fill 8th avenue full of people, none over 5 and a half feet tall, and add a cow or two every 50 feet, plus some stray dogs and goats. Small cars and larger trucks dart in every direction, as motor- cycles and rickshaws dodge in and out of traffic, avoiding the crowds of pedestrians. All you hear is the honking of horns and the calling out of vendors selling fruit, crafts, dinner, and unidentifiable items from make- shift stalls that line the avenue.Women in brightly colored Saris dot the otherwise gray canvas, and their beauty takes your mind off the smells of gasoline, food, livestock, and occasionally urine. One thing illuminates the scene; the bright eyes and smiles of all you pass on your way to the Ganges. And in this foreign, strange city where little is familiar and expectations are constantly questioned, there is one thing we have come to expect: if you offer anyone here...I mean ANYone a friendly smile or hello, you are met with the most humbling, sincere, beautiful greeting in return. We arrive by rickshaw to grand, ancient stone steps leading into the Ganges, amidst throngs of people, the smell of smoke filling the air, and gentle chanting heard in the distance.Boarding our small boat, we sailed the tranquil waters just 15 minutes upstream to witness the cremation funeral Pyres, where families come to ceremonially burn their deceased.We were allowed to take photos for a while, until we were right next to the pyres on the banks. Seven pyres could be easily seen but there were surely more, and without much imagination we could see the outlines of cremated bodies on the piles of wood. So why didn't it seem in any way morbid? Why did it instill in all of those in our group a peaceful, beautiful silence? Varanasi, in all of its multi-sensory32WWW.ADELANTEMAGAZINE.COM | TO ADVERTISE IN ADELANTE MAGAZINE CALL 323-256-6639

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