I'm in a net-cafe, about 40m away from the east gate of the Taj Mahal.
Our hotel is across the road and is a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle of Agra. Diwali in Varanasi should be re-named the festival of firecrackers, every kid on every corner had some kind of explosive device! Talk about loud!
The 3 of us (Shera, the Boi and me) managed to score a seat on top of a houseboat to watch the nightly Aarti (offering to the river) and it was pretty neat. A night and early in the morning, the colour of the river is disguised enough that you forget whats in it, and it looks lovely.
A few days before we took a 6am boatride along the ghats, watching everyone go about their business. When the sun comes up, its a fiery red ball - truly beautiful.
Yesterday, just before leaving, we got to experience Indian Beaucracy in action. We decided to post some stuff home. Easy right?
First you need to go to a tailors. He then sews your parcel up in white fabric and seals it with red sealing wax. Then you can go to the post office.
The post office worker lead us through a rabbit warren of sorting and filing rooms to get the parcels weighed. Then there's the forms you need to fill out. Then sign this. The write your passport number on this. All in all, it took most of a day and ended up costing 1,500 rupees for me to post 2.7kg home (about $50). A bit of a shock!
All in all, its good to get out of Varanasi. When we left (about 8pm at night) and had to walk through tight alleys.... well, there's some unsavoury characters around offering drugs.
An 11 hour overnight train trip and here we are!
Fin is still feeling a bit tender in the tummy (poor thing) but hopefully will be better soon. Off tomorrow morning to go inside the Taj Mahal at dawn, then catching the bus to Jaipur for 2 days of shopping (dont tell Fin I said that hehehe).