I landed in Varanasi last evening to do a workshop for all the call getters from Indian Institutes of Management. These successful aspirants were arriving from the entire eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Varanasi is the cradle of one of the most ancient civilizations in the world, with inhabitation of this city recorded as far back as 6000 years ago. It is a fascinating city on the banks of river Ganges and is one of the most sacred destinations for the Hindus, and also for many from the world who throng to see the magical city. It is always in the itinerary of every tourist visiting India. In fact, very many go on to stay here for years.
I have always enjoyed walking by the ghats and galis of Varanasi. Every visit has been a journey of discovery – of the city and of one-self too. As usual I reached the Dhashaswamedh Ghat in the darkness of early morning, after walking for about three kilometers. It was drizzling a little, the ghats were buzzing with activity, but not as was expected to be, due to the muggy weather and the winter chill.
I became busy clicking away the magical morning on the ghat – the dips, the aarti, the boats, the colors of dawn as I walked along the ghats. The ghats are 80 in number, and Dhashaswamedh is somewhere in between, and I proceeded towards the ASSI ghat. Each of the ghats have been built by one kingdom or other from across the country over the centuries, to shelter the citizens of their provinces when they come to this pious city.
Since the city has settled centuries ago, the modern amenities in the public are difficult to come by. The upkeep of the city is far from satisfactory and to the utter shock of most visitors, garbage is found littered in every corner of the street. I keep wondering why? At many locations on the ghats, men relieve themselves, that not only leaves stink but also pollutes further the polluted Ganges.
This morning, when I reached the Rana Pratap/mahal Ghat, I was surprised to see three pisspots neatly lined against the wall in a corner with a note, “kindly do not pollute mother Ganges, use the toilet to relieve yourselves.” Around the toilet along the ghat, many flowering plants are blossoming. They are neatly lined.
This effort is indeed admirable, especially because, it is envisioned and created by three young Oar-boys who ferry the visitors on the Ganges in their small wooden row-boats. Deepak (13), Amit (11) along with their elder brother Ravi (19) helped their father to make it happen. Deepak and Amit who solicit customers for the boat rides were filled with pride when they shared about their endeavor, rightly so! I took their photograph in the location promising that I will write a story about their conscious effort to keep the ghats clean and tidy. The ghat is stink-free and is a pleasure to walk by.
If only each one of us is conscious of our surroundings, and do our little bit, I am sure we can make a huge difference! Let us strive to make things happen1!