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Namaste from the Holy City of Varansi

MARCH 10, 2017 | INDIA - SHANTI

Namaste from the Holy City of Varansi! What an experience we’ve been having! It’s crazy to think we’ve been in India less than a month. We’ve already seen and experienced so much.

Varanasi is such a beautiful and intriguing city and there has been absolutely no shortage of things to do. A focus of our time here has been internships with the very talented local artisans, which has included jewelry making, fire dancing, stone carving, painting, cooking, sitar and tabla, yoga and Ayurveda. We’ve all really been enjoying learning new skills and getting creative.

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We’ve also spent our time learning Hindi and exploring the city. The things we’ve done here have been so diverse and incredible. One day we took rickshaws down to a different part of the city (though we could only go so far due to heavy traffic in the lead up to the elections here) and had a lassi and visited the Burning Ghats. The Burning Ghats was one experience I think will stick with me for a long time to come. Death is looked at with completely different eyes here. I walked away from it undetermined about the way I was feeling.

Yesterday we visited the farm and village of one of our lovely contacts here. It was amazing and I believe one of our favourite days so far. The landscape surrounding the village was rocky and steep, and thus gave a feeling of desolation in a way, but there was something very breathtakingly beautiful about it. We explored the farm and village, watched a master potter in his trade, learnt how to weave plates from leaves, ate amazing food off these plates, watched (and later danced with) incredible dancers, rode a camel and gained an insight into life in rural India. Oh and we also played with puppies (Katie’s favourite part) and watched Amber, Kaila, Peter and Liam milk a cow 

We were the first group of foreign travelers to visit this village in recent memory and so were followed by the villagers in large numbers wherever we went. A real highlight yesterday for me was how the people warmed up to us throughout the day. In the morning it wasn’t easy to get a wave back but by sunset we were having a broken Hindi/English conversation with the kids (previously shy but now terrifically outgoing and funny).

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That’s not even close to everything. There’s been so much else, including a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges and a visit to the Guria Office, an amazing organization that is reaching great heights in combating the heartbreaking sex trafficking trade.

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We’re off to Bodhgaya tomorrow very early to study Buddhism which we’re all looking forward to (besides the 5am train haha), though I think we’re definitely going to miss this place and all the lovely people we’ve met.

I hope you all are very well. Until next time, with love,
The Shanti Crew.