#3, India/Nepal, Jan. 12, 1989

Dear Everybody,

The sun was shining so I paid another visit to the Taj Mahal and was again very impressed. Afterwards I went to the airport to catch a flight to Varanasi. The flight was delayed and then delayed some more. While I was sitting on the grass outside the terminal building (to keep warm—the building was so cold and damp) I noticed the taxi driver that had stolen my cosmetic bag! I started walking towards him across the grass, and I noticed that he saw and recognized me, as he started a bit. I looked him right in the eye and kept walking towards him. When I reached the place where he was standing with several other taxi drivers, I asked him if he had taxied me from the airport to the hotel two nights ago, and he agreed that he had. I asked him if he had ‘seen’ my cosmetic bag as it wasn’t in my suitcase when I got to the hotel. He said that yes, he had found it where I left it in his taxi (!) and when I asked him if he had it here, he replied that he did and got it from his trunk and handed it to me! I unzipped it to discover that nothing was missing (why would he want to take my cosmetics anyway?), thanked him, and walked back to the terminal building.

I just had to tell somebody, so I approached a woman and her daughter who had been waiting for the flight to Varanasi, also, and told them the story! The three of us, Susan, Adrian and I, spent some lovely time together trading travel stories. Adrian is going to school in Florence, Italy so I shall put her in touch with my daughter who is living there also.

Eventually the flight was cancelled and I was put up in the Mughal Sheraton Hotel in the Kipling Camp, which were tents with bathrooms that were in the back of the property, quite exotic. I left a message for Paul at his hotel to invite him to have dinner with me.

I decided to go back to the Taj Mahal to watch it during sunset. When I got a taxi to take me back to the hotel, I apparently had one of the drivers that had observed my exchange with the delinquent driver. He asked me if I had truly left my cosmetic bag in his taxi, and, of course, I explained that the other driver was a thief who had taken my bag out of my suitcase.

Paul called and came for dinner, for which I wore my new Penjabi silk outfit that I had bought earlier. Since he had formerly worked at this hotel, he knew everybody, and we had a very nice time. I showed him the Kipling Camp and introduced him to Susan and Adrian—a pleasant evening.

I flew to Varanasi the next afternoon and was eaten by mosquitoes all night, which really cut into my sleep. I arose at 5:00 AM (still dark) to visit the ghats on the Ganges in the cold, cold. I took a boat trip out on the river during the sunrise, and in spite of the cold weather, there were many people bathing and saying prayers in the icy Ganges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the Ganges is their holy river, there were bodies lined up to cremate; then the remains would float down the river.

I walked around Varanasi—a really exotic place, but since it was Election Day, most of the stores were closed.

 

The next morning I hired a bicycle rickshaw and saw a couple of temples, the Golden Temple and the Mother India Temple and just looked around at this unusual (even for India) place.

 

 

 

 

Varanasi is certainly a chaotic, but interesting city. One wonders what it would be like to live in these surroundings with everything clamoring for your attention. I felt like I was on sensory overload!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon I flew to Katmandu, Nepal. What an exotic city. I walked to Durbar Square and looked at the temples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One temple building has the three-year-old child that is considered a reincarnation of a god. She will only go outside once a year when she is paraded in the streets of Katmandu for a local holiday. When she becomes pubescent, another child will be chosen to replace her. The ‘old’ one will probably never marry, as it is thought that a husband of this person will have very bad luck.

I also am coming down with a bad cold—what a drag! So tonight I managed to make a hot lemonade for myself, which is what my mother always made for me when I was a child. I bought lemons from a street vendor and got sugar and hot water from the hotel dining room. I’m sure it will cure me!

Carol

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