“Are you having it raw?” I heard myself exclaim. I hardly meant it as a question since it was obvious that the girl who happened to be next me was biting into the ear of sweet corn she had just bought. It was Saturday market in the Santa Fe Railyard.
– “This sweet corn is fresh from the field, how many ears would you like, ma’am?”
– “But do you really eat it raw? Where I come from, in Europe, we always have to boil the corn.”
– “The ears you see here were all picked this morning. Put them in the fridge and they will keep for at least 3 days. So how many can I get you?”
I couldn’t resist this convincing man, plus I was getting hungry (it was almost lunch time), plus I was curious to try raw sweet corn. I decided to get six ears, and sure didn’t regret it. They provided great, crunchy lunch for three days in a row. The stand is very modest-looking (see here below), but don’t let this fool you. Do get some sweet corn here and do have it raw!
Two colours were prominent in this colourful market: red and green. You guessed it right: chili peppers. Small, big, raw, roasted, for decoration, just take your pick!
The railyard isn’t only a market venue but also a real railyard. The train at the station matched the market in its colourful appearance.
The weavers were so quick in their movements that it was difficult to see what they were doing. There is a long tradition of silk weaving in Varanasi, and the silk from here is renowned for its quality and design.
These men were devoted to their job and proud of their skills. Of course I couldn’t resist the temptation of these fine textiles so the visit made my luggage slightly heavier.
The sun was just rising and I was absolutely sure that it was a corpse I saw next to our little boat. It was with some relief that I noticed that the man moved, he was just praying in a floating position.
Traffic on the river was quite intense, as I suppose it is every morning. People weren’t on their way to something, they were out on the holy water to witness the sun rise over the horizon and to pray.
The light, or rather the whole atmosphere out there on the river, was a unique experience.
Many years ago I used to take singing lessons. One of the first songs I learned was Già il sole dal Gange by Scarlatti. I didn’t particularly like the song at the time, but for some reason I have never forgotten it. Now it rang in my head all morning. Listen to it! (No, it isn’t me singing. And in case your Italian is a bit rusty, the singing is accompanied by an English translation).
Già il sole dal Gange
As dusk fell I was again out in a small boat. The main purpose was to see the suggestive Aarti light ceremony that takes place every evening in Varanasi. At the end people put offerings in the river, a candle on a little tray with marigolds all around. I wanted to do the same, but clumsily failed at my first attempt – the tray immediately took in water and sank. The problem was that I had dropped it in instead of gently putting it down, my guide explained. You had to lean quite far out to reach the water, and I was sillily a little afraid of falling in myself. (How can you be afraid of falling into a holy river, a river people travel thousands of miles to get into?) The second time I was more successful and could see my candle float down the Ganges. It may seem like nothing, but it was a great moment.