Sunday, January 29, 2012

Travels with an Identity Thief - Part Two

So here I am in Varanasi, searching out experiences that will reveal Marilyn’s character and provide settings for scenes in the new book. I have assumed her identity yet in many ways she is a total mystery. She is an artist who lives through her eyes, while I’m a writer who lives through words. And how can I think straight, with my senses transfixed by the chaotic sights and sounds around me?


The annual Hindu festival of Durga Puja is in full swing. The streets of Veranasi are packed with worshipers of the goddess, who have come to offer food and flowers at her feet and visit the pandals (temporary temples) where they celebrate the goddess who saved the entire cosmos from destruction! Trucks packed with young men commandeer the narrow alleyways, blasting earsplitting chants and music in honor of the holiday. The best I can do is to keep my eyes open and “give” Marilyn my camera, setting her loose to follow her instincts...

It’s dawn, and Marilyn and I watch a golden streak of sunlight paint the dark waters of the river as we listen to the happy chatter of bathers near the ghat steps. Maa Ganga envelops us inher peaceful embrace. India may be crowded, noisy and hectic, but carved into the chaos, like a Buddhist cave hollowed out in a rock, moments of boundless serenity await.   I know Marilyn will stay in Veranasi for at least a year –far longer than the three days I will be here – and that I too will be back.

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:24 PM

    beautiful read, Joyce.

    And you captured the essence, the spirit -- of the conundrum that India is, in these lines: "India may be crowded, noisy and hectic, but carved into the chaos, like a Buddhist cave hollowed out in a rock, moments of boundless serenity await."

    fantastic -- and looking forward to more of your posts :-)

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  2. Thanks "anonymous"- and since I know who you are, I can say how much your comments mean to me.

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  3. Beyniaz10:01 PM

    Very beautifully written, Joyce. I look forward to many more interesting travel posts from you...and of course your book.

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    1. Thanks Beyniaz - look forward to reading more of your travel writing too!

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  4. Gopali Chakravorti-Ghosh1:06 PM

    lovely descriptions Joyce; it captures the essence of the Durga puja celebrations. Come to kolkata once and see the celebrations... you have to feel the dhaakis ( drummers) and the sound of the conches and the smoke from the incense burners choking your throat.... Look forward to may more vignettes.

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    1. Thanks Gopali - yes, let's meet in Kolkata for the next Durga Puja! I love your description...

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  5. Joyce,you are a brilliant storyteller..curious,sumptuous..a whirlwind work of imagination,as epic in its scope...

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    1. You leave me speechless for once, Mousumi - thank you!

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