Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Travel Storytelling

A Meeting With Death

The dog’s oozing red eye followed me as I was navigating the tiny, uneven pathways snaking through Varanasi, its motions unnaturally slow and pained. As the days passed, I noticed more dogs with red, bulbous eyes laying in distorted positions, while cows with deformed horns inched along the alleys.

Backpackers spoke of the strange “vibe” in Varanasi and the sicknesses travelers seem to acquire while in this Indian town. Their vivid stories couldn’t prepare me for the reality.

The feeling of death, heavy and crushing under the humid summer air, remained even as the sun appeared. Like the animals, people moved slow and injuries abounded. My friend stubbed her toe, requiring a hospital visit, and a hostel roommate was bitten by three monkeys at a temple.

Shortly into my stay in Varanasi, I became disinterested, distant. I wasn’t attracted to the city as I was to the rest of India. But to fully appreciate and understand Varanasi, I had to encounter death.

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While out one evening, several men passed by me carrying colorfully swaddled bodies. Used to experiencing death at a distance in American culture, I wasn’t sure how to react. It felt disrespectful to be so close to someone’s deceased loved one.

A man approached, asking to show me around the ghats. Not wanting to make a spectacle of the burnings, but not wanting to close myself off from local encounters, I let him tell me the history of the burnings as the orange embers and ashes flew around us.

“Do you see any women here?” the man asked. I then realized I was the only female.

“They are not allowed because they cry and crying is prohibited on the ghats,” said the man.

For centuries, Hindus across India have brought their dead to Varanasi for customary burials. Hundreds of bodies are burned every day, the ashes spread in the swirling Ganges river. Those fortunate to die here are said to obtain moksha, freedom from the cycle of death.

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I sat near the funeral pyres, observing locals tending to the fires, sifting through ashes and bathing in the river. These men, covered in sweat and enveloped in the smoldering heat, were within inches of death every day, yet they laughed and splashed in the water.

This proximity to death made me realize how often my own culture tries to avoid its imminent approach – to push it away with pills and beauty routines. But here death was a tangible and persistent presence – not a finality. Only through seeing death could I fully appreciate living.

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Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Travel News, Uncategorized

I wasn’t going to share this: #metoo

I wasn’t planning on writing this post. I thought about it, especially in this social media-obsessed world where sharing every one of your life’s details is normal, if not encouraged. Maybe I should share what happened. Maybe it would help others.

But I kept going back and forth in my mind.

Maybe it wasn’t sexual assault. Others have gone through worse. Maybe I’m overreacting. It’s over, so why not just move on.

 But I couldn’t move on. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Days later and I still felt withdrawn, ashamed, and dirty. And I didn’t even do anything. Continue reading “I wasn’t going to share this: #metoo”

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Travel Tips

What to Pack for Backpacking in India

Ahh packing – pretty much my favorite thing to do (insert sarcasm). I’m always super jealous of the travelers I meet who love packing, or who can properly pack within a few hours. For me, packing isn’t necessarily hard, it’s the decision-making process that haunts me (and often amounts to me questioning just how much clothing to bring). I created a list for my two-month backpacking trip to India, but after two-months, here’s what I really needed, and what you may find you need to pack. Continue reading “What to Pack for Backpacking in India”

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Travel Storytelling, Uncategorized

What Most Bus Rides Through India Are Like 

If you’re going to India, you’ll probably find yourself on a bus at some point, so here’s a little look into what it’s like on those long, bumpy bus rides across India. 🙂 Continue reading “What Most Bus Rides Through India Are Like “

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Uncategorized

Trying American restaurants in India 

When traveling abroad, I try to avoid any chain restaurants, especially American restaurants. The last thing I want to do is go all the way to a new country, and only eat foods I can easily have in my own country. And in my opinion, tasting new foods is one of the best ways to experience a culture! However, there do come times when you realize you’ve only got small change and there are no ATMs in sight, or you crave some sugary, terrible-for-you fast food from home. In times like these, you cave and enter the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts/ Burger King/ McDonalds. Here’s what you’re missing (or not missing), at several of these places in India… Continue reading “Trying American restaurants in India “

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel)

10 Pictures to Inspire You to Visit Udaipur, India 

The City of Lakes, Udaipur, is located in the Indian state of Rajasthan. This beautifully colorful city will leave you inspired by the quaint little roads and unique buildings. Continue reading “10 Pictures to Inspire You to Visit Udaipur, India “

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Travel Storytelling, Uncategorized

What it’s like to attend a movie at a fancy Indian movie theater

I had read it was a worthwhile experience to watch a movie at a movie theater in India. Watching movies in other countries is not what I typically think of doing while traveling, but I figured India must have an interesting theater livelihood, especially with Bollywood being such an integral part of daily life in this country. 
Continue reading “What it’s like to attend a movie at a fancy Indian movie theater”

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Uncategorized

What to do in Rishikesh, India

Often named “The World Capital of Yoga,” Rishikesh is a yoga-lovers haven set on a sloping hill overlooking the holy Ganges River. Most travelers stay in Rishikesh for month-long stints in order to complete their yoga certifications, but Rishikesh is a place that can be comfortably seen in just three days.
Continue reading “What to do in Rishikesh, India”

Asia, Getting Lost (Travel), Travel Storytelling

Hello From India!

Hey everyone! Namaste from New Delhi! I’ve currently been backpacking through India over the past three weeks with my dear friend and crazy-fun-travel-buddy Daysi Wilkinson (follow more of her incredible journeys at http://www.dayzontherun.com). So far, we’ve had some incredible, and even painful, experiences…

Continue reading “Hello From India!”