Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 3: Kanpur to Varanasi

Today was the best day of the trip so far. We woke up in the morning at around 8am, though we had planned to wake up at 7am. We were very tired yesterday, so we couldn’t wake early. Anyways, we somehow managed to get ready by 9am and leave Shagun guest house, where we stayed in Kanpur. While we checked out, the worker at the guest house started cleaning our bikes,  that too without us asking him to. That was so nice of him, and I was touched by his gesture. I thanked him from the core of my heart and left the place. 

We drove for around 120 kms towards Varanasi on the NH2. Then, we took a halt at a Dhaba(Indian restaurant) called OM DHABA in a village called Diguli. We saw three children(all below 10 years of age) working there, while the elders were sitting gossiping with each other. 
Deepak and I were shocked. We confronted the elders sitting there and asked them, why didn’t they themselves worked, while the children were made to work. 
To this, one of them replied while giggling, they want to work here. 
I asked,” Don’t they study?” 
He said ,” if they wanted to study, then why would they be working here?” 
I was stunned. In a discussion with another village folk sitting among us, I got to know that it was their parents who made them to work and earn money for them, while the parents would sit at home and enjoy. 
I called all the three children and asked them to write their names, I was more than astonished having seen that only one of the three children was able to write his name. 

In the meanwhile, Deepak distributed the Polio caps to the children and told them about the campaign. 
We asked the elders about the reason of children not going to schools. They told that there was no teacher to teach at the school. We were left with no words but worried about the children’s future. 
While, we were discussing these things, there was another folk scolding one his workers as he allegedly stole a mobile phone of his. He used a stick to beat him and to make him confess for his misdeed. 
The whole incidence and the scene was altogether a new experience for us as we savoured gobhi ke paranthe with mirchi ki chatni  and tea while this was happening around us.
There was one Suresh Singh with long moustache in traditional rural attire, sitting on a charpoy. While talking to him, I found that he often visits Chandigarh, so, I gave him contact number and asked him to contact me while he comes to Chandigarh. 
After we finished our breakfast, we left for our destination, THE HOLY CITY OF INDIA - Varanasi. Here are some pix enroute Diguli.

We kept driving for another 60 kms, before we  found the holy river Ganges flowing under the bridge we were riding on. We stopped for some time and enjoyed the beautiful view. 

Then on we decided not to stop before reaching Varanasi as we were getting late than the time we had earlier intimated to Rtn Rajesh Gupta, President Rotary Club Varanasi East, who was taking care of our visit to Varanasi. 
Around 3pm, we reached the rendezvous point, the Raj Ghat bridge where we were supposed to see Rtn Rajesh ji.  He reached there in no time and took us to his office in a building called Atithi Bhavan. We remained there for another 2 hours while media reporters visited us to interview us and ask our experience till now. 
They wanted to know more about the objective of our trip which we shared with them. And we also shared the pinnis that Rtn Lokesh ji had given us to everyone's delight. 
Then came a photographer named Anirudh Pandey ji. He was a very impressive person and told us everything about the city. A few things that he told us was Varanasi is called the city of streets, city of lights, mini India as people of almost every region reside here, etc. 

He also told us that people in Varanasi have a low standard of living. Another thing he told us was the area called Assi. According to him, people from different intellectual, political, monetary level gather to have tea at Pappu aur Poi ki chai ki dukan and talk to each other as if there is no difference in their living standards. 
There was a lot that we learnt during that two hours, and learnt a lot about the city. I could see tear and grief in his eyes as he narrated the recent bomb attack in the city.  Anyways, he was to rush to his office urgently, so he took our leave and left.

After that, Rajesh ji took us to the highly congested streets of the city, where driving even a cycle was a tough task, but we were riding our bikes there. It was a new experience to ride in such congested streets. He took us to a panwala and bought us banaras ke famous Pan. 
We bought new bungee cords. (remember our cords were broken on the first day). Then we reached our hotel called Diamond Hotel. 

After freshning up we moved to Rtn Pradeep De’s school, where Xmas and New Year eve function was organized by the Rotary Club Varanasi South. 

Little children were performing there. We also participated in a game to sing a song based on a few words given to us.  It was fun. Deepak and I sang Punjabi songs. 

We were honored by the Rotarians present there and we discussed about our expedition to create awareness to eradicate polio. Rotarians that were present in the function were, Rtn Rajesh Gupta ji, Rtn Pradeep De ji, PDG and NCM Rtn Dr VN Singh ji, Rtn Amar Chand ji, Rtn Sanjay Aggarwal ji, Rtn Rajesh Saxena ji, and Rtn Deepak Asthana ji. 

We also met some Rotaractors there and interacted about our projects and the normal discussions went on while having our dinner. While we were having our dinner, Rajesh Gupta ji came and told us he was leaving. It was a sad moment for us as he became very close to us. Anyways, bade him Good Bye. The Rotaractors helped us reach our hotel and then bidding them good night, we came to our room, and this was the time to update our blog.

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