Food Carts Beckon in Varanasi

VARANASI, India — Famished from criss-crossing the ghats from north to south and back again, with excursions into the medieval-like passageways, I was ready to get some grub.

Views of a neighboring hotel and the river.

One can’t help passing all manner of merchants and food vendors along the ghats, and one drew me in with its particularly captivating scents coming from what looked like a mobile bakery.

Fresh, hot, aromatic stews — vegetarian, of course — were being served in pressed banana-leaf bowls with a choice of breads to accompany them. The bread was still steaming inside, with a crust that let out an audible crunch when being torn open. I don’t remember many details about eating it, only that I ingested it quickly and with more bread.

Earlier, I had seen from my balcony at the Hotel Alka some of the contrasts between the lush, green oasis for guests’ use and the playing out of nature’s cycle of life, with what appeared to be scavenger birds picking at what might have been carrion on the eastern banks of the Ganga. Yet despite knowing what the mighty, holy river held in its waters, I was not dissuaded from eating my fill at the food cart.

I was much too hungry for that.

A lush green garden in the foreground contrasts with scavenger birds in the background. At top, a movable feast of stew and bread. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro)
Me on the ghats with two girls selling offerings for the Ganga.

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