We Got a Floater!

6:30 PM Saturday March 18, 2000

Right now I'm sitting on our bed and looking out over the Ganges. It's about 6:30pm and the sun has set but it's still light out. The pinks and oranges have turned to smoke and blue. The boats tied up to the ghat are green and blue and red. Closed-top row boats with no motor. They're just like the ones at Disneyland.

On the ghat, boys play cricket - a local variety with river hazard and stepped cement rules. Mystery woman is in the shower. I'm gonna take lots of pictures out our window and of our room and of the little boys who live in the guest house. Puja bells are ringing. My train ticket to Calcutta is for the 26th of March. I just checked it. That made me really happy. I'm going to settle in here on my god-like perch and bliss out. Whoops - sorry for getting all mushy and "spiritual" on you.

A Video:

Silver Pounders

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We got a floater ladies and gents! A floater is what our neighbor Klaus calls carcasses that float down the river. This one is big and white. Too big for a human. Usually on a human, only the butt pokes up out of the water, iceberg-style. This one's cow-sized. Just a lump with black birds landing on it. Indian ritual music echoes all day long, which is nice. It's better than the Hindipop crap burying Bombay. The little boy who lives here just walked up to the railing next to me. I think he's 7. We looked at the floater for a while but didn't say anything. He knows what it is. He can spot them better than me, I'm sure. The river is really wide. The far side is just sand dunes and trees. We're gonna take a boat over there now. Over on the other side there's no development at all. Wonder why that is. One side is pure concrete and there's not a lick of it on the other.

The wind blows upstream causing ripples that make it look like the river is flowing the opposite direction. The cow carcass goes against this visual stream with the real current. There's a bed-sized pile of saffron-colored blossoms floating ahead of it. Mystery woman thinks I don't describe shit enough. She thinks I use words like "nice" and "cool" too much. It's funny, I just found myself doing what Salman Rushdie did in Midnight's Children. (I finished it and promptly forgot about it.) I write, talk about the woman in my life talking about my writing and then I write about that. And the way I signed off the last journal entry was TOTAL M.C.

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This room, at Rs. 150 is the best vacation value on the planet as far as I'm concerned. Mahesh, the owner is so nice - Klaus says he's honest to a fault - but I just adore him. I don't even mind that he's usually trying not to drown in his own red spit while he talks to us. He has a grey streak in the part of his wavy hair and looks like Omar Sharif.

It's finally cooling down. Seems like it's too hot to do anything during the day. Last night we walked along the ghats after dark and I think it was more beautiful than during the day. The moon is almost full and straight over head. Everything is grey, there are no touts, people appear as dark figures but there is absolutely no menace. This is the biggest church in the world. The ghats smell like urine and the steps are hard to spot in the moonlight. Klaus is an endless fountain of quips and figures of speech. He's completely unintelligible to the locals because he says stuff like, "Keep feeding me that line of bull, sister, and I'm liable to coldcock ya!" English, but American English. We go past the sunken temple, one they built on unstable ground that is partially sunken into the cesspool of pollution and plastic that clogs the banks. Kind of metaphorical don't ya think?

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The whole mess is covered in water during the high season. Looks like a 50' difference. Some stretches of ghat which can fit comfortably 10 dhobi wallas, 3 chai wallas, one cricket game, 4 wild dogs, 25 concrete steps, 2 handrailings, 3 sadhus, 2 cows, 1 mini-temple, and 3 tourists are completely under water. For me, Varanasi is all about sunrise, after dark, ambient sounds, river views and the Mystery Woman. The Mystery Woman figures prominently in all that happens.