New Jalpaiguri Station, Siliguri West Bengal. The “Northeast Superfast Express” delays 3, then 5, then 11 hours. In typical indian manner, people take it easy. Plastic sheets and blankets have been brought precautionsly. Cozily bedded Indians, dog riding fleas and a troop of rats share the platform near the train tracks. Various eyes stare at me. How coulnd’t they, I’m the only white guy in the area – That’s how a lighthouse must feel like. Because I’m white I must be rich and eventually I’m in a donation mood. Thus, crying babies are stretched out to make me aware of the worrying circumstances at the train station – as if I made them cry. Others rub their bellies clockwise. The one-eyed person comes over and acts clever; He points on the latest newspaper showing smartly dressed Hollywood stars getting out of their limousine. „You are one of those,“ I’m told. One of those elite people earning big money and driving around in strech limos. „How come, I camouflage myself as a backpacker and lunge at four o’clock in the morning at Indian train stations?“ I try to justify myself, without any visible success.
Finally on the train, it turns out, no one really seems to use the night for sleeping. However, its just some hours until the feeding and entertainment time. With the very first sunlight, the samosa men urges through the compartments, followed by chai boys, followed by apple women, followed by rascals playing indefinable instruments and chanting with their high pitch voice. The parade repeats its quest until we somewhen reach Varanasi. Covered in clouds of diesel exhausted by the truck colony, my Tuktuk driver is waiting for the next few millimeters to jump in. As a precaution, everything on wheels (including steam rollers and little girls on bicycles) is a possible enemy. Deserters save themselves to the roadside where the shack owners fry dust bumps with stuffings and wait for the brave.
Varanasi – the holy city of Shiva. Cows stumble over garbage mountains and clog the narrow streets. Tugs loaf around, immediately ready to grab anyone who has neither bed nor opium. Trillions of pullers (rickshaw drivers) offer their services. Silk factories and their sales representatives sprout from every hole. It’s quite obvious, everyone tries to survive somehow. There is virtually no industry in Varanasi, so most (even those with university degrees) are bound to work a simple job. The competition is growing rapidly. Today there are almost 45.000 more Indians than yesterday. Over all, Varanasi might be one of the most romantic cities. Indian romantic. Hindus from all over the country flock to the Ghats, the stairs on the riverbank of the Ganges to dip their bodies into the creamy brown water (masochists drink it) to get rid of sins. A look at the color and consistency of the water suggests that Hindustan has a lot to come clean with. Not only sins are washed away in the holy river, also the dead are sunk here as well.
Back into Varanasi’s dense traffic. Fractions of a vehicles fight for millimeters, push forward, honk, dodge. Neither eight eyes nor a swiveling owl’s head would be sufficient enough to cope with the awaiting dangers. Newcomers are easily recognizable. They look in shock at all those who have a chaos gene, then usually they move one foot towards the rushing stream of vehicles, suddenly crouch back, and wait until whole India passes by. I won’t blame them, in these cities they would neither stop for Shiva, nor the Pope or the Dalai Lama. Only those who are familiar with combat rolls may reach their bed unharmed.
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