Tag Archives: benares

Assi Ghat, Varanasi, India

18 Mar

Assi Ghat is the largest and Southern-most ghat along the main artery in Varanasi. It is also the most touristy, since many hotels and guesthouses are located in this area. But it doesn’t feel deprived of culture, there is still a daily puja ceremony in the evening, chai wallahs, men hanging out together, cultural drama productions in Hindi, and a few dhobis washing clothes. I went there this one evening with a friend from the academy, and sketched casually as we swatted away  mosquitoes and moths. The sun was descending behind the city, and the Ganga was in shadow. I later painted my sketch, remembering a certain dusty rose hue that the city adorned at sunset, and a drab gray blue shade along the river bank.

Advertisements

Rickshaw Stand, Varanasi

17 Mar

At the Ralco cycle rickshaw stand, I watch the rickshaw wallahs come and go. When they have some spare minutes they stop to drink chai, or get their tires pumped. The older rickshaw drivers are incredible, with legs that are literally the size of my forearm, they routinely pedal whole families of four – and I think my arms are skinny. Most don’t fit their cycle very well, barely reaching the pedals with their stick legs, and straining so hard you think the chain will surely snap. But in India anything is possible, “Bharat me, sab kuch milega“.  It is definitely only a viable industry in flat cities, something I thought about a lot, being from hilly Seattle. Despite the hardship on the drivers, it really is an efficient eco-friendly way to cart multiple people around. Not that we don’t have ‘pedicabs’ in the States, but they are pretty restricted to tourist areas. All I know is that if Seattle were flat, I would have a rickshaw. I bet they could become trendy in Portland.

Sunset at Ganga Bank, Varanasi

16 Mar

View from Ganga Bank Guesthouse, Varanasi © Erin Lau 2010

It was Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, known for its raucous misadventures in covering people in liquid and powder color, but I had been spared. I had pretty much stayed in my room all day, because the people at the academy warned of such horrid misbehavior by drunk or drugged men (its mostly men out there) so it was pretty easy to avoid the color snipers on the roof and the ground color grenade throwers. At the same time, I kind of feel like I missed out on a really potentially fun festival. Nevertheless, I decided to go to the roof of the nearby Ganga Bank Guesthouse to soak up the colors of the evening sunset, and watch the city, sleepy from the daytime celebration, fall into shadow as the sun sank behind the temples and mosques.

Rooftop Scene, Varanasi

16 Mar

Rooftop Scene, Varanasi © Erin Lau 2010

Bijilli hai!” Every evening a family across the way from the academy attaches two wires to the power lines running down the alley way, and thats how they get their power (bijilli) for the night.

Sangeetkar (Musicians), Varanasi

16 Mar

Another performance by the Mishra family at the academy. Debu (Deobrat) often sings when he plays, especially folk songs. His family is known for their vocalists, yet his father was the first to play sitar, and he has infused a singing style in his sitar playing. Debu blends the two styles with great agility, one of few musicians to do both at the same time.

Deobrat Mishra, Varanasi

16 Mar

Deobrat Mishra is the director of the Academy of Indian Classical Music in Varanasi, the school I attended. He is a sitar virtuoso and often plays alongside his father, Pandit Shivnath Mishra, who is one of the top sitar players in India. This concert was given at the academy, and Deobratji was playing next to his father, along with Bitu, their nephew who is an amazing tabla player. I tried to draw both Guruji (Shivnath) and Deobratji but Guruji’s head was hidden behind his sitar, so it was not a good composition. In any case, the concert was entrancing, and we were able to witness the musical chemistry between the father and son duo.

Indian Woman

13 Mar

I based this sketch on a young woman I had seen in Varanasi, a mixture of two different women actually. Since I wasn’t able to do a proper portrait with her sitting still, I just went from memory. I had been trying to draw faces that were recognizably Indian for a while, and this woman seems to be the most convincing. In fact, when I showed my sketchbook to some Indian guys they separately said “ooh beautiful, who is she?” as if they wanted to be introduced to her. Sorry guys, she only exists on paper.

%d bloggers like this: