Shiva Ganga

Backpacks with formal shoes, suits in hand and baggage to boot. All 3 of us(Dua, Jat and yours truly) had packed in almost identical fashion for our trip of Benares and back. Unfortunately Jat’s better half Rujuta was not able to make it due to health issues. In hindsight, we missed a lady’s perspective throughout the journey what with ragtag novels (both fiction and non-fiction)being our companions for the majority of the onward journey. Garib Rath literally translated would be, ”the poor man’s vehicle” had a surprise in store because blankets and bedding were being provided on a first come first serve basis, with or without phones tongue firmly in cheek, on due payment of a reasonable sum at the start of the trip. Thought it was a knee jerk reaction by the majority of the crowd but I was to repent later in the night because the cold did not relent and I had to bow to the elements by sleeping till only five in the morning. An uncle got me thinking since he came up with the million-dollar question, “what is the definition of poor?”Frustration had got the better of him and he kept muttering to himself as to why should one pay for blankets. Poor is a relative term and could have various connotations but I could not help but notice the genuine sprinkle of sparkle on the floor of the train and inferior matting to give it a rustic touch. Rest of the train was just like any Indian Railways one could imagine which happens to be the eighth highest employer in the world. Dinner was thanks to Jat who had got an ample supply of “aloo paranthas” and on every station that we stopped staple food that was thrown up was the ubiquitous “poori and aloo ki sabzi.”
We arrived at the station only 3 quarters of an hour late which is a luxury by Indian standards. Ashish, the groom, had already sent his driver with the jeep to take us to our base, one of the umpteen hotels in the city. We kept our bags and headed straight to the restaurant for a breakfast buffet after which there were two things in mind, the city and kill time. The “Aarty” and the “Banarsi Paan” are synonymous with Benares but were not able to catch a glimpse of the former due to time constraints. The different ghats that line the river are a sight to behold and we made it a point of walking over almost the entire stretch. Preparation for the wedding was a general cleansing of the ears by a freelancer who proudly proclaimed that his forefathers had been in the “profession” for generations. Followed on from the ghats to the temples in the city, Kashi Vishwanath and Ma Bhairo.
This is a fair warning to every prospective tourist if you’re reading this, no matter what, I emphasize, no matter what, let it be shlokas, a general tour of the temple, a solemn prayer for parents or next of kin DO NOT PAY THE PANDIT or PRIEST. Needless to add I was fleeced out of the hard-earned cash of my parents and fell prey to one such man. Marketing has taken a whole different meaning for me from now on. Without any further turmoil, we reached our hotel in the early evening to get ready for the wedding. Jindal, Dubey, Katie had already reached with the rest of the gang.  An occasion like no other had to start and end with booze. The ceremony itself was something to behold with Ashish and Revathi looking resplendent in their bridal wear. The wedding passed on peacefully and we were joined by Ashish the next day to add to the drinks. Made it the station in time after gorging on paan and Shiv Ganga was a breeze compared to Garib Rath.
Ps- Rajeev must have been proud if he was there.

Varanasi train from Delhi
Shiva Ganga Route


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