Friday, May 23, 2008

Market in Varanasi

Today was a free day in a market in Varanasi and I was thinking that maybe after days of tiring activities we'd have a little break. I was wrong. Shopping so far in India is one of the most intense and exhausting experiences. We took rickshaws to the market, which as other people have said is quite an experience in itself. I have learned to like it, as long as I don't pay too much attention to the road ahead of me.
Before our market activities we visited a Nepali temple and one of the burning ghats. We were followed around by children trying to sell us postcards (what else) and bindi stickers. It is so hard to say no when they continually ask you, and obviously their marketing strategy works because several of us have given into their insistent demands that we need yet another set of postcards. While the kids today were cute and charming, it made it very difficult to enjoy the experiences of the temple and the ghat. This seems to be a common theme in India. It is so easy to get distracted and miss something very important. There is just so much going on.
The market itself was just a narrow alley with a variety of shops and everyone trying to sell you something. It is even a chore just trying to pick out one thing you want, because you are usually being sold 5 things you don't want. When I think about some of the things I have bought, I can't help but be amazed at how easily these people are able to sell us things that we never had any intention of getting.
I think I am getting used to the heat. Sort of. If I were at home right now I would be so miserable, sweating all day and taking a lukewarm shower at night. But it is just all part of the experience, and I feel better at night when I am exhausted and know that we have spent the day well. It takes some getting used to.
Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying my Indian experience. There is so much to take in that my brain will probably be processing it forever. I am already wondering where I can go next and what other cultures are like. Since this is my first time in a foreign country, I think I expected to be constantly conscious of the fact that this was an exotic place. But as different as it is, in some ways it still feels like an extension of home. Weird.

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