By Alec Mabie

This week was spent in one of the holiest cities in India, Varanasi!

When we first arrived in Varanasi our leaders gave us a tour of the city and we got to meet the teachers for the internships. We had so many options to choose from. I picked jewelry making, Ayurveda, and music. Other popular classes were fire dancing and stone carving. After meeting with our teachers we went back to the Purple Lotus homestay and we talked about what classes we wanted to do. Then, our leaders told us that it was now our job to schedule our classes and plan out the day. The whole day was ours and we had to seize it! See what I did there? I loved that aspect of what we did in Varanasi. We were given once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to learn from highly trained people and try different skills that we never tried before.

One of my more memorable classes was jewelry making. Me, Isadora, Keshuv, and Jake took that class and I think we could all say it was an exciting but very challenge class. The class was every morning at 8-9 or 9-10 o’clock. We were in groups of two. Our first day of the class our teacher explained the whole process of making a ring out of sterling silver. After that we spent the rest of the days melting, hammering, filing, and sandpapering the silver until it was a perfect ring. After most of the classes, we could not even feel our hands because they were so numb from all the filling. Most importantly, after the class was finished, we all had some fresh new ice for our fingers that everybody in the group admired. However, all the kids who did fire dancing loved it and took some amazing pictures as well. Our classes that we took throughout the week were a big part of Varanasi but we also endeavored on some exciting field trips as well.

One of our more memorable trips was when we went to the Burning Ghats. The Burning Ghats is a place where when someone dies their body is brought to be cremated. So their ashes will then go in the holy Ganges River. Not many people are able to be cremated there because it is so expensive. It is also a little controversial because it is a big cause of the pollution for the river. When we arrived we heard a woman sobbing over her deceased husband and we could see the ashes rising from the fire. Although it was very sad, it was a very historic sight to see. After an educational visit to the Ghats, we went to a famous lassie stand called the Blue Lassie where we had the best lassies in Varanasi. We put our pictures on the wall and saw notes from other Carpe Diem trips. It was a day full of traveling, sightseeing, and blue lassies!

When I think of Varanasi I think of the time me and Harrison thought it would be a good idea to take the bike rickshaw to our music lesson. Or when our group goes on our homestay’s roof to look up at the stars and just talk. Who wouldn’t love an exciting conversation about trees with Ella? Also, I can’t forget doing a photo-shoot with May on the Ganges River and then shortly after (jokingly) proposing to our leader Bria with the ring we made earlier that day. Sadly, she said no (haha). I was once looking through Isadora’s iPod and I came across “You Belong with Me,” by Taylor Swift. The next thing I knew I was singing and dancing around the room to a song with someone I just met about a month ago. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words but all I can say is I love our group; the adventures and laughs we share together.