I’ve written so much about Varanasi on different occasions that I don’t know where to start this time. The most beautiful thing about being in Varanasi was probably bumping into my Bhaia (brother) Cristo again. I met him last time in 2010 and he found us walking around the city this time, instantly adopted my mother as “mama, look!” and took on the role of showing us the magical side of the city for the coming three days, while refusing all forms of payment – because we’re family.
If you manage to make your way to Varanasi, do try to find Cristoforo Rahul Pandit somewhere, (guy on the picture above!) he speaks English, Hindi and Italian and is a Brahmin and Varanasi Expert with a huge heart. He works as a guide in the city so I designed and sent him a bunch of proper business cards – you might get one when you get there! His number is +91 (0) 9792597869, his skype is cristoforo203 and his email is varanasi.cristo (at) gmail.com. Contact him if you need a great guide in Varanasi – and do say hi from me. :)
At some point, he showed me the photo and note I had given him in 2010 and I went with my mother to visit the very shabby hotel I had spent my nights in back then. I was reminded about how I had prioritized at that point and how that helped me to manage a two month trip on a practically nonexistent budget. Also, it’s in the shabbiest places that I’ve met some of the most inspiring people I know. Obviously, I was in awe about being in Varanasi again, I recognized some of the small streets and found my way around, I recognized the colours, the smells, the contrasts and even some of the kids I had photographed when they were younger.. there is just so much about that place and it keeps being one of my two favourite cities in India simply because of how intense and real it manages to be. Varanasi is the place where you are most likely to find India.
It purposely breaks you down and then builds you up again.
You can find the rest of the India 2013 stories here.