So it's early morning, before sunrise, in Varanasi. i'm staying at the Yogi lodge in goudalia, the old, smelly, labyrinth of Varanasi old city. my travel companion, Katja, is sleeping sweetly on her thin, stained mattress, bundled up with a trillion dusty blankets.
i'm hunting for a real Aghori baba.
I did my dissertation at uni about the Pashupatas- the really nasty, crazy renunciates, who follow Shiva. they eat dead flesh, they live at the burial grounds, they smear their bodies with ashes from the funeral pyre. they drink water from a human skull, and they behave in different funny, weird ways, to be like Shiva. they scare people and they give respect.
apparently, these sadhus only exist today in Nepal, in the Pasupatinath.
but, I had read and heard, that another, related tribe of sadhus, called "Aghoris", still could be found in Varanasi, close to the burning ghat, where human bodies were burning day and night.
ok. I wrote this blog a few years ago. the moment was one of December 2008- so a while back.
I was up early, sunrise, just me and the monkeys and the pilgrims and the babas and the chai-wallas...and i guess yeah, it's normal to be up at sunrise in Varanasi, despite the fog, despite the cold- or maybe precisely BECAUSE of these things. No point staying in bed. The monkeys wake us up anyway and it's goddamn freezing, so let's get a warm, energizing chai, and let's pray that we get out of this suffering called life- where it's cold, foggy, and the annoying monkeys steal our bananas.
So I was on the lookout for this type of dude. I had written my dissertation at uni (SOAS, amazing SOAS!) about these kind of babas, admittedly not existent anymore in India, but in Nepal, in the Pashupatinath, yes. I had been told by my Hinduism professor that yes, some of them did still exist in Benares, eating dead flesh, and doing their weird laughing. I love it! How weird and creepy…
Also called the Green Fairy, from the French- La Fee Verte. Others called it the Green Goddess or the Green Muse.
But the Green Fairy isn't just another name for absinthe; it is a methaphor for artistic transformation and enlightenment. It opens up the mind to a freer state, a place where exploration of poetical pathways and new inspirational ideas can grow wildly. To the Parisian bohemians of late the 1800's, the Green Fairy was a guide into their artistic world, where new, groundbreaking art was created. Absinthe was to the artists of the time what smoking weed was for the hippies in the 60's; their "revolutionairy guide" and what they believed was the substance that "opened their minds".
Artists, poets and writers reached for a glass of the Green Fairy for inspiration to their creative works and during "the green hour", in the late afternoon, many glasses were consumed in Parisian bars and cafes- but not just that, apparently, s…
I first came to Puglia in 2008, I think it must have been early October. I'd had an awesome time in Tuscany and Rome and Calabria and was arriving there by train, filled to the max with beautiful experiences and electric connections, not really expecting much else than just a half-boring yoga teacher training that I had signed up for, not really knowing what else to do with my life after finishing my degree in Indian Philosophy at SOAS, University of London.
As the train cut through Basilicata and into Puglia, the amount of olive trees that swooshed past started to be shocking. After a while, I realised that it just wasn't going to end. Endless amount of them, large, proud, thick. Planted in perfect rows, with no sigh of the end, or the horizon.
My eyes widened as I started to think I was hallucinating. Was I going insane? It went on for hours. Endless olive trees. I felt as if there was a movie on repeat outside of the train window.