Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Benaras Journal 24th July, 2011

Sawan ka mahina (Monsoon) or Bol Bham season. Assi ghat is now getting covered under the shadows of our dear Ganges. The ‘Bander wale Baba’ (Monkey Sadhu) has lost his favorite spot but he still powders his monkey with ponds every day. Saffron clad men and boys everywhere on streets of Benaras, ek hi bol: “Bol Bham; Bol Bham”. They have their own style of having open air DJ nights. Huge loud speakers on streets, playing devotional songs, the tune of which sounds very familiar to any bollywood or popular Bhojpuri songs. What is the difference? I ask, Isn’t it all the same? Who cares which music you like as long as you want to dance and lose yourself. ‘Bol Bham’… ‘Shiva’ is a celebrity when it comes to partying in pubs, clubs or temple streets. How should I say it; He ROCKS!
This Sunday I decided to walk the straits of the innumerable ghats. Not that I regret it, but it was a painful walk inside and outside the ‘gullies’. Bulls are an exotic addition. Dodge them and you reach Kashi, get hit and you know where you will land up. A poor little guy got a head bump from one Mr. Bull while he was trying to overtake it. Don’t be surprised to find exotic restaurants amidst a lane full of cow dungs and bull shits. Firangs like to see ‘hungry India, poor India’ and so we have proper rest points where they, I mean we, can indulge in some continental food and mocktails for a change instead of paratha and lassi.
Also, for the first time I witnessed manual scavenging outside the television. Sunday was a cleaning day for the city streets as well and the dalits would enter the narrow holed drains to collect the filth. I was excited to see someone do it. Not that I do not pity them and stand against the concept of manual scavenging itself, but somewhere it does make you feel secured that there are men who still clean these hopeless gutters and drains of India. Holy texts that brand the ‘Shudras’ as the lowest caste are practically the mother of the entire society who takes care of her children best by keeping it clean, or in this case of our country with the most notorious and unobedient children, 'TRYING" to keep it clean. 

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