Hello everyone!! The past week of our trip has been nothing short of an adventure. As you all know, Donald Trump is President (little bit of a damper). And recently the government announced 500 rupee bills and 1,000 rupee bills are virtually worth nothing! Will we be able to finish this trip?!?! OK we will but jeez you should see the lines at the banks…
We started our week in Bodhgaya, the city where Buddha attained enlightenment. We visited temples representing Buddhists in cities all around the world. We were able to see different cultures come from all parts of the world and worship together. Such a refreshing sight amidst the chaos we were hearing about going on in the U.S. The first evening we were there we went to a Zen Japanese Buddhist meditation and chanting led by one of the monks. Afterwards we went to the Maha Bodi temple which is home to the Bodi tree Buddha sat under when he attained enlightenment. Walks through Bodhgaya were filled with friendly children, bright colored buildings, and so so many baby animals!!! Baby goats were definitely the crowd favorite.
Next we took a train (air conditioned train, such a luxury!) to Varanasi, one of the most holy cities in India!!! It could be because of the significance of the Ganges and all things Hindu or because of the delicious lassi. You should come and find out :)! Here we began art internships with local artisans such as jewelry making, stone carving, fire dancing, musical instruments, and cooking. Most of us take one class in the morning and one in the evening, we are all learning so much. There is a restaurant fairly close to where we are staying that serves apple pie with a scoop of ice cream on top, it was pretty amazing to enjoy!!! A few days ago we walked to the Old City in Varanasi to see the burning Ghats. Many people go to Varanasi to die and after their death they are taken to the Ghats to be cremated and then have their ashes thrown into the holy Ganges river. It was a very new and different experience watching the process take place. Personally, I am still trying to process what was in front of me. Many men work on the ghats and every single day they buy wood and carry bodies to the site where they are to be put in flames. When I asked one of the workers how they felt about their job, they simply said “good karma”. Tonight we will be attending the Diwalli festival! We are all so excited.
P.S. Blue Lassi has the best lassi’s in all of India. I have fallen in love with this city.