Marker on the Way Home

Jewellery Seller and Pigeons, The Ganga (Ganges River), Kashi (Old Varanasi), Uttar Pradesh, India copy
She’s my marker
The jewellery seller
Leaning against
The Tower of Baba

I stop by her ad-hoc shop
Mapping my way home
In my mind

From here
A set of stairs
Like a hundred others
All along the the Ganga banks
For miles north and south
Except these stairs
Lead home, almost straight

Up up up, climb to the top
Then straight east
Along the narrow alley
Fingertip-to-fingertip wide

Cobbled stone
Concrete walls
Peeling, weathered paint
In muted colours
Broken by
Intermittent doorways

The alley soon enough
Leads hard left
Then hard right
Past the guesthouse
Through the covered passage
A quick peer
Into the Shiva temple
Then down the stairs

To Bengali Tola
The main street of Kashi
Old Varanasi
4,000 year-old Varanasi

I turn left
Onto the thoroughfare
Wide enough
For a scooter
To squeeze by
A pedestrian

Lined with Sari shops
And tea shops
And craftsmen
Candy stores
And shoe stores

Crowded with shoppers
And shopkeepers
And tourists
And those simply going
From one place to another

At the Music School sign
Turn right
Straight for a while
Then a jog right
A jog left
A right
And on the left
The back entrance
Somit Guesthouse


A hundred feathered wings
Ruffle the air

From my dreamy mapping
I raise the camera to my eye
And follow the pigeons
Wheeling all around me

When the shutter clicks
The lens has landed on her
The beautiful jeweller
Leaning against
The Tower of Baba
Turned away

I put the camera down
She raises her eyes to me
We share a smile
And a nod
Before I make my way
Up the stairs
Toward home
Passing the platform
Where the pigeons alight
To peck at seed
Spread there
By a friendly hand

Startled again
They take to the air
All aflutter
Once again

Jewellery Seller and Pigeons
The Ganga Banks (Ganges River)
Kashi (Old Varanasi)
Uttar Pradesh, India

Taken during travels, 2017