Varanasi was dreamlike, almost surreal. Contrasts in extreme made my head spin. Our hotel offered magnificent accommodation where I was treated with a special milk bath with red rose petals. Part of the bath ritual involved rubbing Sandalwood salt crystals over my body after which it was soothed with scented oils. Our room was fitted with yoga mats and space to do yoga. The gardens had a sacred atmosphere. People were preparing the gardens for a Buddhist conference. Beautiful art of the Ganges and mystical Buddha’s in rich gold and earth colors hung the walls. The hallways exhibited black and white watercolor scenes of the Ganges of a quality I have never seen before.
We walked the narrow smelly streets of ancient Varanasi in awe; overwhelmed with sights of people living in complete opposite conditions to what we experienced in the hotel. The spaces were small lights dim and the conditions crowded, yet every person was smiling or seriously motivated on their way to get to a temple or river edge to do their sacred dedications. The hazy air hallowed the sun a bright orange in the early morning and evening. The smell of spicy food filled the streets and people gathered to drink hot chi tea and eat together. We observed many men and women, some alone and others in groups, washing themselves in the holy waters of the Ganges praying that their lives would be blessed. The polluted water of the Ganges are to them like a milk bath scattered with rose petals and scented oils.
I was struck by the simplicity and the acceptance of most people to live on very little. I felt indulgent and opulent in comparison. India certainly made me think of life differently.
Masters of design silk weavers employ many hard working men who operate the looms to produce most magnificent silk fabric in the brightest of colors imaginable. Everyone had their task. While some were weaving others hammered the designs with their hammers into metal shafts that will be used in the looms. Then there are the owners and expert sellers of the finished products. Entrepreneurial and creative people these are.
Women from all over India visit the small shop spaces, sitting on the white cushioned floors where the materials are thrown out to display its full length for observation and inspection. Decisions are based on personal taste and purpose of the silk saris and artistic covers.
Woman all look like goddesses with their colorful flowing saris while the men contradict them quite profoundly with mostly ordinary modern westernized shirts and pants. Sometimes men are seen wearing Indian shirts. It almost seems as if the men and women come from different eras.
I wondered about having and hot having. What is wealth exactly? It is possible that for us westerners the fear of “not having” get us exactly there; we end up not having. When we fear “having much”, we end up not having much. When we don’t fear having or not having we can have or not have because it does not matter what we have; it all the same to have or not to have.