Page 33 - Adelante June 2020
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chaos and strangeness was somehow silencing our cynical minds and opening our hearts. This was fortunate for us, because tomorrow would challenge everything we thought we knew about faith, healing, spirituality, and ourselves.Normally waking up before 7 am fills me with such dread that I subtly pout the night before. But today, I have woken at 4:30 am, and I am so excited for today's events that I have morning energy I've never experienced. Today we once again descend to the Ganges, this time to view the morning Hindu rituals as the sun rises above the river, opposite the city.We see things today that challenge our every notion of life, death, right, and wrong. In our morning showers at the hotel, if a drop of water falls in our mouths it ignites a panic, yet here, in the same sacred waters that receive the ashes of the dead, as well as garbage and even livestock passage, are people bathing and drinking. They swallow mouthfuls of the Ganges in large gulps, while others around them burn small fires on the banks and chant prayers. Flowers and candles adorn the steps in exotic designs. Women in bright saris of pinks, blues, oranges, and yellows hover on the steps preparing their rituals and then submerging themselves fully clothed into the ashy Ganges, like a newborn baptism.Our cruise down the Ganges passes various temples and now-smoldering funeral pyres, and eventually drops us off on the banks to make our way through the small streets and alleys of Varanasi, toward our hotel. Fifteen minutes after we leave our boat, I realize I have left my bag with my favorite sunglasses, a small camera and other items on the boat. I tell our guide, who promises to contact the captain, but I know I will never see my bag again. It's OK, I decide, because whoever ends up with my bag needs the contents more than I ever could.Street merchants are everywhere selling fruit, camera memory cards, cigarettes made from leaves, and silver paint to anoint our foreheads. One of our travelers, Mike finally succumbs to a young, adorable boy (probably 7 or 8 but looks perhaps 5 years old, due to mal nutrition) in ragged clothes selling the silver paint and agrees to a sale which comes to about 2 dollars. The boy doesn't have change so Mike tells him he can keep it."No, sir" the boy says, "I will bring to you".We doubtfully leave the boy, expecting never to see him again, nor Mike’s change, and proceed through the winding city streets, and just when we had completely forgotten about the boy, he miraculously finds us and presents Mike with his change, some of which is coins.Mike tells him to please keep the coins, and the boy responds, "no, please, sir, give them to the poor people."We are humbled to our core.We eventually arrive at our van which will take us the short distance to our hotel, and I can't believe what I see on the front seat. It is my bag that I thought was lost forever. The owner of the boat, upon hearing I had left my bag, found the captain and then tracked us through town to deliver it to its owner.I have been to so many places where myself or my friends forget our belongings and never see them again. But this isn't one of those places. This is a place where those who need so much will give all they have.This is India.By: Bryan Herb ZoomvacationsBryan Herb is co-owner of Zoom Vacations®, a US company that creates stylish international private events and gay group vacations to the world’s hottest destinations. Learn more about them at or call 773.772.9666.TO ADVERTISE IN ADELANTE MAGAZINE CALL 323-256-6639 | WWW.ADELANTEMAGAZINE.COM 33

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