Varanasi: My First Traffic Jam

Less than 24 hours into my visit to Varanasi and our rickshaw took longer to crawl the last 2 kilometres back to Assi Ghat than it had to cover the first 8 kilometres from Saranath to Varanasi. (By the way, Rinpoche took the photo of the policeman (below) and the one with me in it in the Saranath piece.)

At one point, the policeman waded midstream (we’d been crammed into an unmoving huddle for at least ten minutes) and started beating the  rickshaws (auto and man-powered) to move them into the left lane. But as there wasn’t even an inch of leeway he gave up quite quickly, only to turn his attention to the cyclists and scooters. Not one of them appeared remotely indignant about being set upon, quite sternly at times, which I took as a tacit admission of guilt. And sure enough, once they had been thoroughly disciplined, traffic started moving again, albeit very slowed.

I was still so blissed out from our Saranath visit that I couldn’t have cared less. Neither could Jamyang and Jia-Ling, because they nodded off the moment we weren’t bouncing in and out of craters. Imagine, they could actually sleep in an auto-rickshaw! Ach ja, the luxuries of youth.  

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