Varanasi - A Very Early Day 2

Friday, October 23, 2015
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Waking up at 5am this morning was not the easiest thing we have ever done, but it was worth it. We took the short walk to the river and first witness the morning prayers. We then got in the boat and just floated along the river. We saw some more people doing cremations, people bathing, and more prayers. We also got to witness an actual sunrise. I will say seeing the sun rise slowly over the River Ganges in Varanasi, India has got to be one of the highlights of my life so far. After the boat ride, we ate at one of Kuldeep's favorite breakfast places here in Varanasi - which happens to serve....American breakfast! Jaime had a scramble plate and I had french toast. I know I said before that we weren't interested in American food on this trip, but since we hadn't eaten anything since our late lunch yesterday, and after waking up so early this morning, a classic breakfast was just what we needed. Besides, our tour guide took us there. ;) We were then on our own for the rest of the day. Jaime and I went back to the main market and did some shopping. We ended up going down a kind of back alley to look at some shops and I came upon a group of people sitting on the ground working on packaging some food. The main guy who was working saw me walk up and said "Namaste." I replied hello back to him and asked him how his day was going. He said it was not going well at all. So I asked why. He said that he had so much work to do. So I asked if I could help him. He kind of laughed and said no, no, of course not. But I said I was serious and that I didn't want him to have a bad day. So I sat down on the ground with them and started helping the group package little baggies of Indian sweets. When the man saw that I was actually going to help them, he gave me the job of sealing up the baggies. They would scoop up a bit into a small thin plastic baggie, and I would seal it. I worked with them for about 20 or 30 minutes or so and the tray of sweets was gone, so I said Yay! We are done! The others laughed and somebody brought out an entire new tray and then said there were 8 more of them after that. They were very thankful for the help and even brought me some tea. During this time we were talking to the man, Anin, who said they they were packaging these up to distribute and feed to the people along the market. This is done free of charge and is given out due to the religious festival that is going on. After a few minutes of working on the new tray, Anin told me my work was done and said I could leave. I insisted on staying, but he said it was ok and told Jaime and me to have a good day. I told him I had hoped I made his day a bit better, and he said yes and thank you. I did not get any pictures of this, as we were just there to talk and help out. It wasn't for a photo op, it was just an opportunity for me to help out a very small group of people in this country that has offered so much of itself to me. On the way back to our hotel we took the long way back along the river. Probably our last long look at the Ganges.Dinner as a group was optional tonight, but most of the tour group (including us) went to a hotel which was about 30 minutes away by auto rickshaw. The ambiance at this restaurant was super fancy. Live band playing sitar music on a very nice lawn area outside of the hotel. Dinner was a little more expensive, but was super delicious, and worth the experience. Tomorrow there is no set plan - we are on our own again until we have to catch the train to Agra at abut 3pm. I probably will not have much to update you on until after our visit to the Taj Mahal, and that is happening Sunday afternoon. 
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