Toward the end of our stay, Gerard asked three locals that we knew quite well a question. All three were born and raised in Varanasi, more or less the same age, mid-40s, and more or less the same status.
“In your opinion what is the biggest change in Varanasi since you were a child?”
Without hesitation, all three gave virtually the same answer.
“There is a great change in the mentality.”
“In what way?”
“Most people are only interested in making money these days. And many don’t care how they do it. Sense of morality has eroded. People used to be more caring and not just for their own family. And there was more interest in our culture.”
“How do you mean?”
“As a child, we had classical Indian music concerts all the time, and people came to Varanasi to learn that music. Now it barely survives.”
“But the Dhrupad Mela was very popular?”
“Yes, but these festivals only happen twice a year.”
All three of them had expressed the same opinion in a slightly different way. When Gerard raised the question of pollution —
“Pollution is pollution and it’s coming from everywhere, not just Varanasi. It’s the mind of the people who have changed.”
It certainly was not the answer we expected — pollution, corruption, overcrowding, broken infrastructure etc. –not what we heard. Of course, we only have a nine-year perspective on change in Varanasi. But our experience with the people here would not elicit such a response. Even the merchants have greeted us with warmth and friendliness. You could think that it’s just based on making another sale but then why would they invite us to their family wedding, anniversary, and Holi party — have lunch with us, give us lunch and endless clay cups of chai. After thinking about what we heard, our reaction was: we like the city now, but it really must have been wonderful 25/30 years ago.
i wonder how i would answer that question? i know that in the 60s lucre used to be preceded by the word filthy now lucrative is only a good thing. and morality, the only time ive heard that word used in recent years is the phrase ‘the moral majority is neither”
My answer ,if asked that question about the USA would be the same as above.
thank you for sharing this journey with us!
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Yes, I agree with the fact that the culture is about money. When I was a child I was able to have lunch at other people’s homes. Now children are hardly seen!
Pollution is everywhere. I’m glad you asked this question. It affects all of us.
India is a second family to you both. It’s an extended family with warmth and acceptance. 🌺❤️🙏😘💕🌟
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With the atmosphere here so psychically dismal and physically dismal also (and cold), it was great, in spite of whatever, to hear your rambles around the hot and musky street of Varanasi. Ahhh, nostalgia for a place I have never been. Strange that you are almost untouched by the sadness expressed by the the locals. Perhaps a good friend is walking with you bringing good will. Here, in Cambridge, in these Trumpian times, I try to be friendly with the New Englandish people I pass on the street. Strangely, it often works. (Forget about anyone with a cell phone in their hands, of course!) Ohhh…on to the next for you.