Friday, November 23, 2007

Hum Toh Aise Hain: From the Ghats of Benares

Raand, saand, seendi, sanyasi
In se bache to sevey Kashi...

Every city has something famous. For Benares, I would avoid the traditional things associated with the city - sarees, paan, ghats, religion.
The most famous thing about Benares is Hyperbole. Maybe, I should generalise that to include the propensity for generating legends. They seem to have a fable / proverb / epigram / rejoinder for all seasons.
For example, the opening lines were quoted by one of the sales guys to explain the difficulties of being in Benares. In a slightly cruel manner, they are attributed to four things found in abundance there - widows, bulls, stairs and sadhus.

It seems that Kashi is exactly the place where Shiv-Parvati were standing when 'time started ticking'.
The name Varanasi came about because it stands in between two rivers - Varuna and Assi. Today, Assi Ghat stands where the river meets the Ganga and the tea-stalls on that ghat is said to be the source of all the tall tales in the city.

Benares is the origin of a few of my favourite images.
Some qualify as high art. Some don't. What the hell?

Feluda was a big fan of the rabri. He even imagined the murder of a famed halwai. "Imagine Kachauri Galli's Hanuman Halwai being stabbed at his kadhai... and his blood flows to give the rabri a pinkish colour..." The art director's work is done here!

Unfortunately, I do not have a liking for most of the things Benares has to offer. Not the rabri. Not the sarees. Not what they call Badshahi Chai.
The Benares team is devastated at this heresy.
Finally, they offered me a paan. I shook my head. They looked even more crestfallen.
This is one thing I have in common with an international gangster, wanted in 11 countries. "Don paan nahin khaata tha."
And the guy from Benares had a rejoinder - "Yeh bahut bura karta tha..."
As I said, people there are always ready with one!

In deference to Rimi's wishes, I have avoided any lengthy description of food. In any case, after the excesses of the previous day, I hardly managed more than six kachoris for breakfast.
And an Anonymous commenter on my previous post recommended Lomotils. There is a saying in Bengali that if you have space for a couple of digestive tablets, you might as well squeeze in one more rosogolla!


Puranjoy said...

Erm. Was that mistranslation willful to preserve the G ratings of this blog?

Rimi said...

Thankee kindly.

And I noted the mistranslation too, although of course, "widow" IS the earliest/ original meaning of the word. The other developed due to, er, associations.

Oh, by the way, I would like to know anonymous visitor from Boston is, who came here via my blog. Anonymous readers make a cat of me.

Puranjoy said...

thanks. now the hindi for widower makes a lot of sense.

sorry, my lord.

The Line of Beauty said...

There is no mistranslation. Dipta has captured the word right in spirit and subtext. In fact, this word is not considered offensive in these parts of North India whereas the alluded meaning does. Though, I must add, it must sound harsh to ears not accustomed to hindi language in its original way

OrangeJammies said...

these Bongs, I tell you... people after my own stomach...