We visited Varanasi in the end of February this month. My daughter was invited for a Kavi sangam. After the function …………….
The next whole day passed in a dream of delight: the sunny Ganges, the
spaces of the mighty liner, the amusing human show, the luxury that
lapped us—the boat and I actually had our own tiny private place
on the boat; one felt one's self translated to an urbaner sphere. The boat
Condescended to fascinate the boatman, and our deep inside the Ganges was made very_ pleasant. Nowadays one must go to sea or river for real undisturbed luxury; on shore life is full of discomforts even for the affluent.
|My daughter reciting her poems|
And then Varanasi! Varanasi! In February! Out-of-doors Varanasi! Varanasi under the night sky! Hot tea at the Rajendra ghat: Chhannulal Mishra ’s music at assi ghat: its cool, and _chill, any time of the day or night, at the Kachauri ki gali, the centre of the bazar! Varanasi, where you may ride in taxicabs as much as ever you want for the price of trolley
rides at home! Oh, Varanasi was more than ever a heaven for Indians at
this time, with Azamgarh at seventy to the rupee! It was really a sin
not to drink bhang with every meal. But I must not say anything
more about its effect on me. I am telling another story now.
|My daughter with another participant at Ajamgarh|
Next day they took us to Vegetable department’s Guest house, for lunch or, as the Indian call it, a heavy meal. The first lunch is a
miserable apology for a meal: the guest house--ugh! I could never learn
to like the nasty medicine. The Veg deptt’s guest house is one of the beautiful famous new BHU campus guest house that the guests do not often stumble on, a place
where one obtains the _ne plus ultra_ in eats.
After the meal Mr Tiwari walked with Mr Manglam, and VIPIN took me. We used the stairs, since all four of us could not crowd into the elevator at once
without suffering a loss of dignity.
"I say, he's a crackerjack!" VIPIN whispered to me in good Indian.
I heartily agreed. I had a sneaking regard for VIPIN, scoundrel though
she was. I found it in my heart to be sorry for what was saving for
_her_.The little dining room was perfect in its unostentatiousness: simple,
straight mahogany, a bowl of roses on the table; sunlight streaming
under the awnings; golden arbor vitas and oleanders outside. The
little Mr Tiwari 's lip curled in an envy that he tried to make appear
disdainful; there was something about it all that was beyond him; that
rendered his royal airs a little ridiculous.
When we seated ourselves at the little round table, Mr Tiwari had his
back to the windows with the Mr Manglam facing him; VIPIN was at his
right hand and I at her left. The service was under the direction of
the invaluable participent, who can do everything. he had been to Azamgarh
with us. I shall have more to say of him on another occasion. He is
as pretty as he is accomplished. Assisting him was one of guest house maids, borrowed from upstairs. The food would not have
suffered by comparison with BHU Campus, and every bit of it had been
prepared by Kamkesh in GH tiny kitchen.
The word used by Mr Tiwari upstairs stuck in the Mr Manglam mind like
a burr. After we had been seated for some moments, and the
conversation had ranged all over, he said: "You said you had been
called away by professional matters. Surely you do not mean your own
matters. Is it possible that you ...?"