31st of August, 2018
NOTE ~ This article was originally posted on Medium , but I did not had any intention to put this content there. The post was crafted for this blog.
Finishing another hypothetical New Year Resolution after the minor ups and the major downs.
Dashashwamedh Ghat, VaranasiThis is going to be a long post where I will tell different things, and I’m not sure what they are.
. . .
For me, 2018 didn’t start off with a bang. Half of my 2017 was spent struggling with loads of shit. I fell sick in August during the phase when I started working as a teacher. Had to quit my job so that I can recover. I spent the last five months of 2017 with medicines, odd feelings, and skipping freelance projects. Didn’t talk about anything with anyone, and it’s the first time (and the last) I’ll ever be discussing a little about my personal life. I’m not into these things. Alright, let’s not dive into the ocean of uneven feelings.
Did I not tell you that I was sick for two months in 2018? Wait, I just did!
So, how did I come up with the idea of living homeless? What made me think that I can do this?
Before I begin, I want to let you know that I admire Aaron Swartz, more than anything and anyone. During the phase when my poor health made me not to leave my bed, I spent my time reading his blogs.
The Late, Great Aaron Swartz
In December, I found one of his posts in which he reviewed 70 books. It was ‘The 2011 Review of Books’.
I was amazed. Why? It’s not because of just one post in which he mentioned 70 books. There were five other blog posts, each for the different year. I still remember the number of books he read each year.
2011 was a stressful year, in many ways, and so for large parts of it I did not really read. Instead, I tracked how many books I started and how many pages I got through each, for a total of 112 books started, 70 finished, and over 20,000 pages read. Not up to my usual standards. Nonetheless…
In 26 years of his life, Aaron read 614 books. If we look at the average, it’s almost 24 books, per year.
Don’t worry, this blog post isn’t about the number of books, but it’s an important part, and I want you to know about it.
For a person like me, who didn’t like reading books, it was a huge thing. Before 2018, I remember reading only five books. 19 years of life and five books. I’ll mention the names of those books.
Book I stole but never read!
I wasn’t proud of myself. I felt anxious. I don’t know what happened to me, and it wasn’t only because of the books, but yes, it was one of the factors, an important one, which made me think a lot about so many things. You know, a small piece can sometimes hit you hard, the same thing happened to me.
I’m not going to lie, and I won’t hide the fact that I loved living in my ideological echo chamber. It was a safe place. I was happy writing code, and sometimes making money out of it.
I don’t appreciate mediocrity and neither I’m a follower of it, but the fact that I’m just learning to code by avoiding every other thing contradicted hard with my ideal thoughts.
I wish I could sugarcoat everything and present my perfect past in front of you, but perfection wasn’t the reason for anything that helped me come out of my safe space and learn to overcome my fears.
I feel, when we start to think we are perfect, we believe that the path we’ve chosen is going to give us everything we need, when the truth is — it only ends up closing other doors for you. It takes time and some courage to accept the harsh reality of your life, but the sooner we do, the better it is.
The place where I spend 90% of my time.
If I remember correctly, it was the 23rd of December. I was busy with my studies. I had to finish a project, too, because I was running out of money. Later that night, I spent straight 9 hours working and earning a few bucks. During the same time, I suffered due to the sleeping disorder. Just another random millennial kid who couldn’t sleep. For your kind information, I never called it “insomnia”. I had a problem with sleeping. That’s it.
The day before Christmas, winter was high on top. Everything was quiet. I spent the day doing absolutely nothing other than reading blogs. Decided to keep me inside the blanket and get some sleep, but I was so anxious that I couldn’t even do it. What happened back then isn’t a rare event.
After a few moments, I went outside and smoked a cigarette. Mind was fresh, thoughts were clean, and the conscience was clear. I picked up my copy and pen and decided to set my New Year Resolution for 2018. I did it not because I was bored, but I was planning for it for the past few days.
I spent the night of 24th, preparing the list. It had everything which I’d love to do someday, but I had to cherry-pick the important ones, which I did.
. . .
. . .
There were seven things in my list, in which one of them was — “Live Homeless for Ten Days”. When I decided to set it as my resolution for 2018, I had no idea if I’ll ever do it, and as a matter of fact, I named the list as “Hypothetical New Year Resolutions”. I was willing, but I wasn’t confident about completing any of them.
Meanwhile, in January, I visited Lucknow and Varanasi with my friend. Being in Lucknow was a disaster, and neither I planned to go to there, but for some reasons, I had to.
Since the beginning, the idea was to go to Varanasi and stay there for at least a week, which we did. In short, I had a mind-blowing experience. I loved the city. The complete scene was like the love at first sight.
Ganga Arti, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi
After coming from my last trip, I almost forgot about my resolution. I was busy with other things. This whole idea of living homeless started to seem less important because I was running out of time, but everything began in July.
I don’t know if it would be appropriate to say, but July fucked me up. No, I was doing completely fine, but when you start to deal with family issues, every little thing you face in your regular life, it acts somewhat different than the usual. I’m not going to talk about it, but it was important to tell as this was the phase which made me leave my home.
On the day of July 15th, I’ve had enough with everything that was going inside my mind. I was struggling to concentrate on my studies. I was struggling to get peaceful sleep. I was struggling to control my anger and frustration. I was feeling so anxious that I couldn’t let myself sit on the chair for more than 2 minutes. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. Maybe I was, but I didn’t want to eat or drink anything, and that was it. I had to do something because if I’d haven’t, I might have ended up messing up with my studies, really bad.
As a student who doesn’t go to the college, I understand the importance of education. For me, nothing is more important than learning. I don’t want to limit myself, but it doesn’t mean, I want to be the Jack of all Trades, but I do want to be the Master of Some.
At around 4 p.m, I told my mother that I need to leave this place. Within 30 minutes, I packed my bag, searched for the trains, kept ₹500 in my pocket, and made myself ready for it. If you are wondering what kind of luxurious items were in my bag, I’ll provide you with the list.
“Where are you going? For how long? When you’ll be back? Where are you going to stay? Think about what you are going to do. This is not the right way. Control your anger.”
My mother didn’t want me to leave the house, at any cost. She almost convinced me not to. I’m not kidding. I took out my shoes, kept my bag aside, and told her that I’m not going today.
After two hours, I was on my bed, trying to deal with my own decision and thought process of the whole moment. Just a few hours before, I was ready to leave, and now I’m at the same place where I was yesterday. Started from the bottom, and I was still at the bottom.
Funny thing ~ I was acting. If not today, then tomorrow, at any cost, I’m not going to change my plan. If you remember, I told my mother that “I’m not going today.” I didn’t say that I won’t go.
I woke up at 7 p.m and started to search for the right train. I had to decide on a place, too, and the first name that came to my mind was, of course, Varanasi. On a paper, I wrote down some important things so that I don’t have to check my goddamn phone, every time, at least while I’m travelling. I didn’t book any room. I didn’t have any place to stay. I had only ₹500, that’s just ₹50 for a day.
My small bag which had everything I needed for ten days!
It took around 2 hours to sort everything out. Around 9 pm, my mother asked if I want to eat anything, and I said no. She didn’t force because she was aware that I’m angry, I wasn’t. I asked her to switch off the lights my of room and close the door when she leaves. After 30 minutes, everything was quiet. Maybe everyone went to sleep. I had no idea about it.
From 10 pm to 1 am, I was in bed, thinking about so many things. I was a little afraid, and a bit unconfident about my decision. I had no idea what’s going to happen. The fact that I’m going out with a strict budget of ₹500 (~ $7), which means I’ll only have ₹50 (~ $0.70) to spend each day made me a little nervous.
It’s not easy to come out of your comfort zone because you are not sure about the conditions you’ll face and the circumstances you’ll be put in, you can assume whatever you want, but the reality is always different from your ideal assumptions. In the end, it’s all about your actions, decisions, and the ability to stand for your words and do the right thing. At least, this is what I feel…
At 2 am, I wrote a small note. I was leaving without saying a word, so it was important to let my family members know that I’m going otherwise everything will turn into a disaster.
You must be wondering what did I write, well here is a complete piece:
Please don’t let anyone use my computer. Please don’t let anyone touch my laptop or anything that’s on the table. I will be back within a few days, so please don’t worry about me. I’ll take care of myself, but you’ve to take care of my computer and yourself.
I’m just going out for a few days, so please don’t cry after reading this. I’ll call you when I reach Varanasi.
Sometimes, my mother reads the note loud so that I can hear the words and feel embarrassed. It’s funny but embarrassing to listen to your own silly words, ugh!
. . .
At 3 am, I left my home. It was dark, so I got chased up by the street dogs, but I managed to escape.
Without any transportation, it takes around 40 minutes to reach the Railway Station from my home, which means I had no other option except to walk. Somehow I took an hour to reach there.
At 4 am, I was at the station, waiting for my train which was going to arrive at 5:30 am. I managed to stay patient and wait for the train, but at 5 am when I checked its status, I didn’t know what to do. Yes, the train got cancelled, and the others were extremely late. I couldn’t afford to go home and pretend that nothing happened. I had already left the note, so there were no chances of going back.
I thought if I can’t go to Varanasi today, then I’ll go tomorrow, but I’m going to leave Gorakhpur. I knew what I had to do, so I rushed to catch another Train (GKP-LJN Intercity) whose departure time is 6 am. With a strict budget, there were absolutely no chances stood for buying the ticket. In case I had to, it’d have cost me ₹110. If I’d have got caught, I’ve had to pay ₹250 as a penalty plus ₹110, which is the price of the ticket. It was risky, but I decided to go for it.
Imagine planning to spend only ₹50 in a day and end up paying twice the amount just for a ticket, and if your luck isn’t with you, the amount goes six times of the initial budget.
Luckily, nothing happened, and I reached Lucknow at around 12:30 pm. I immediately checked the trains for Varanasi and found one. Its departure time was 12:55 pm. I had 25 minutes, so meanwhile, I talked to my mother and explained to her everything. She wasn’t angry, but she was unhappy with the way I left.
Without any hurry, I got the train and found a seat. Yes, I didn’t pay for the tickets. I had already travelled for 6 hours, and this journey was of almost 8–9 hours. From the moment I left my home, I didn’t eat or drink anything. I was hungry, but I couldn’t afford to waste my money. The only option I had was to wait for my destination to arrive without further delay. I’m not going to lie, but due to lack of water, I had to deal with some painful urination.
After spending more than 9 hours on the train, at around 11 pm, I finally reached Varanasi.
11 PM ~ Crowd near Escalator at Varanasi Junction
The first thing I did when I stepped out of the train was to buy an empty bottle and fill it with the water available at the station. It cost me ₹5. A regular bottle of Bisleri would have cost ₹20. Later, I went to find some place where I can get affordable food, and I did. I had to pay ₹35 for a plate. The food wasn’t enough to fill my stomach, but I had already drunk enough water.
I wasn’t hungry or thirsty anymore, but my tiredness was killing me. I had to find a place to spend the night. The place I chose to sleep, was near the Railway Station, it was a not-so-tall boundary under the tree. It must have been 20 inches wide and 10 inches tall. It wasn’t a comfortable bed at the perfect place, but somehow I fell asleep.
. . .
At 5 freaking am in the morning, a police officer asked me to wake up. I had no idea what to say or what to do because just 4 hours ago, I fell asleep. It wasn’t enough. I had already spent 15+ hours on a train with an empty stomach. My body needed some rest, but the officer was completely restless. He poked me four times with his wooden stick and asked me to get up and go somewhere else. I didn’t ask anything to him and changed my place. My urge to sleep was gone. It was time to figure out the rest of the things for the day.
The first thing I needed to find was a clean public toilet, which I couldn’t. I didn’t have much money to afford cleanliness.
I had already saved ₹10, which means my total budget for the day was ₹60. I gambled on the Public Toilet and paid ₹10 for it. When I went inside, I was equally disgusted. My savings were gone, and I was regretting the whole time when I was inside.
This incident made me think about the next eight days. I understood I’m not going to see a clean toilet for a whole week. Since money wasn’t making any difference when it came to cleanliness, the Public Toilet of the Railway Station was the only option for me.
For the sake of not using the extremely used toilet by the end of the day, I used to wake up at 3 am to complete my morning routine otherwise I’d have to start my day by puking all over the floor.
If you are wondering how I used to clean my mouth, well, I used Neem Twig. To keep my body fresh from the inside, I used to chew 4–5 leaves of Neem and drink almost a litre of water. It’s how my day used to start.
After finishing all these things, I was already hungry. I filled my water bottle and went outside to eat something. The profit in being near the railway stations is that you can get affordable food. After searching for a while, I found a small restaurant. The cost of one plate was ₹30 which had Six Puuris, Sabzi, Pickel, and Jalebi.
You can get something similar in or under ₹30 near most of the railway stations.
As a breakfast, it was enough, but the problem was that I had to spend my whole day on it. After paying for the plate, I had just ₹20 left in my pocket. That’s it. It wasn’t enough to afford another plate of food during the night.
Sounds like something which might put you in trouble, but it didn’t bother me.
It must have been around 7 am, and I had already finished everything that a person does in the morning, except for the bathing part, but it wasn’t so important as I had to make a plan for the rest of the day. I didn’t come here to eat and sleep.
I searched for a place where I can sit and write a few things without any disturbance and made a plan for the whole day. After scratching my head for 30 minutes, I could add only two things on my list -
Varanasi Junction to Assi Ghat.
At exact 8 am, I left the place and started to walk. I didn’t ask for a lift or any help even though the distance was quite long. During this walking journey, at some places, I felt lost, but after 2.5 hours, I was at the Assi Ghat. The best thing is that I reached the destination without the help of Google Maps. Big moment haha!
6 kilometres isn’t a long distance, and it’s easy to cover, but when you’ve to deal with the sun, things become quite complicated. I’m not sure about it, but the temperate must have been 38° Celsius.
After reaching Assi Ghat, I filled my water bottle. Spent a couple of hours reading about the Ghats. It was almost 1 pm, and the sun was on top. I decided to take a quick nap, but I woke up after 3 hours.
When I woke up, the temperate was bearable enough so that you can walk without much of the sweating. I finally decided to start visiting all the Ghats and spent my next 4 hours walking, writing, and memorizing their name in the right order. I’m not sure how many Ghats I’ve been to, but I remember the name of 42 (maybe more) of them ~
Created this chart to represent 42 Ghats in the right order. ~3 km long way. Tons of goodness. A lot of anxiety.
You Memory Palace keeps everything right in front of you, no matter how messier the things get, they’ll always be at their own place.
When I finally reached Manikarnika Ghat, I decided to go to the Railway Station because it was getting late. At 11 pm, I was finally at the place from where I started my day off. I was hungry, so I bought two boiled eggs (16 rupees) and two pieces of bread (4 rupees). I had my dinner, and after spending an hour outside the temple, at 1 am, I fell asleep.
. . .
When I woke up, it was 8 am. I got freaked out because I spent 7 hours sleeping. Although I had to wake up at 3 am to poop because it was the plan so that I don’t get a chance to ruin my day by entering someplace full of shit, I fell asleep after 30 minutes.
All right, it is the last time I’ll talk about the poop, and 3 am works. I’m serious.
After brushing my teeth and drinking some water, I left the place, immediately. I decided to plan my day after I reach Assi Ghat. I couldn’t eat because I was running late. The good thing is that I remember the way to reach there (thanks to The Mentalist and Patrick Jane). I didn’t have to ask anyone anything, which saved a lot of my time.
Patrick Jane taught me the importance of remembering things, no matter how small it is.
“There is no such things as psychic”
In the last couple of day, I didn’t take any shower, and my body was smelling like garbage. Sleeping on the side of the streets doesn’t fill your clothes with a sweet aroma. Around 9:30 am, I was at Assi Ghat. After crossing some Ghats, I finally decided to take a bath in the Ganga river (I don’t exactly remember, but I was on Chet Singh Ghat). It was a pleasant experience. With the help of ropes, I even learned to swim a little bit within an hour. I’m not kidding. It’s all about let your body float, and you learn to balance yourself in water. When you start to feel comfortable, try the strokes.
The place where I used to have a bath!
Bathing in the river was pleasing. I was so busy learning to swim that I ended up spending almost 2 hours there. Another reason I didn’t want to come out was that I had no intention to give myself the sunburn.
After drying myself off, I dressed up and decided to go to Durga Mata Mandir. It’s wasn’t far from the place where I was, but it took around 2 hours to reach there because I was busy exploring the roads. With a discharged phone, I found myself little lost, but I managed to come out from the puzzle and reached my first destination.
The more I used to feel lost on the roads, the more I tried to remember the ways so that I don’t feel lost anymore.
I spent an hour at Durga Mata Mandir observing everything I could, and now it was time to go to the other places which were on my list. In the morning, I made a small map representing the spots that I’ve to visit. I didn’t exactly know the way to reach there, but I was aware that they aren’t far from the initial destination.
I made something similar on a paper.
My phone was running out of battery, and it was getting late, I had to leave. My plan was successful. I ended up visiting tons of nearby places excluding those which weren’t on my list.
I can’t give complete details about everything I did. I hope you understand.
I reached Railway Station at around 10 pm. I hadn’t eaten anything since morning. I spent my whole day on the water, for which I didn’t pay a single penny. I cleaned myself off and went to eat something. On this day, the budget wasn’t a problem. I spent 40 rupees on the plate and consumed the food like a monster, and ended up drinking almost a litre of water after eating. My stomach was full. I saved 10 rupees. I was satisfied, but my phone wasn’t.
After spending 30 minutes on the side of the road, I went inside Railway Station and plugged my phone on charge, and it took ~70+ freaking minutes to charge. I had no other option other than to stand, and wait. I was so tired that I just wanted to sleep. Since I spent two hours taking a bath, I didn’t want to put myself in the dirt, so I decided to sleep in the waiting area of the railway station. It wasn’t the first time I slept on a chair.
. . .
It must have been around 4 am when I heard someone shouting. I woke up and saw four policemen making people leave the waiting area if they didn’t have the tickets. Nothing wrong. They were on duty! The problem was that I was one of the people who didn’t have the goddamn pass, and neither I was going anywhere. Like others who were made to leave the area, I was there for sleeping.
If they come to me and ask for the tickets, which I didn’t have, I don’t know what they’d have done. Probably made me leave the waiting area and scold the hell out of me? The good thing is ~ I’m knew what I had to do. I could have easily tricked them if they’d have come to me, but they didn’t. After checking and removing more 20+ people, they left. Another thing, I didn’t look like someone who will break the rules or stay in the waiting area without any ticket. (Wait, what?)
The place where I slept. Extremely uncomfortable due to the design of the seat, but I was under the fan so I’m not going to complain.
After they were gone, I fell asleep. Woke up at 5:30 am and finished some of my daily routine works, had the breakfast, made a plan and left the station at 6:30 am.
My plans for the day were extremely rough as it involved a lot of walking. I wanted to visit Sarnath, which is somewhat around 9 km away from where I was. I also had to visit some more places around the Sarnath Temple. They weren’t close but not so far, as well.
I had to walk continuously for the next 70 minutes to reach my first destination. My walking speed was above average, so it helped. I spent around 30 minutes at Buddha Statue, tried to note a few things down which were bothering me, and I left the place to go and visit Ashoka Pillar, Mulagandh Kuti, and the Deer Park. I didn’t spend more than half of an hour at any of the places. It was one of the phases when I stopped using my phone for taking pictures. I was feeling completely different from the inside. I didn’t know what happened.
Whenever I saw someone, my mind started to construct assumptions against them, and it was irritating. I couldn’t control what was happening to me. With everything that was going on inside my mind, I reached Sarnath Deer Park. The place was nice. I met a random person, and we talked about Varanasi. He was from Shimla, and I was like “What the fuck are you doing here in the middle of July?” I asked him what’s the next place is he going to visit after this? He had a long list, but there were three spots where I had to go, too ~ Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath Museum, and Assi Ghat. The good thing was that he had a bike (I don’t know where did he get that), so I asked him if he could drop me at Assi. He agreed.
We went to see Dhamek Stupa and Sarnath Museum together, and I finally reached the Assi Ghat. I’m not exactly sure, but it must have been around 1:30 pm. I got a call from my friend (good guy) who wanted to meet me. Since I was planning to leave Varanasi, I asked him to come little early. We met at around 2:14 pm. After talking a little bit about everything, he asked if want to eat or drink something, well, when it’s about food, I prefer to say ‘yes’ over everything. We went “Doodh Booth” (it’s a fucking ridiculous name) and had a milkshake. After twenty minutes we left the place.
When I was resting after covering more than 20+ km in a day.
If I’m not wrong, the famous Ganga Arti starts on the Dashashwamedh Ghat at ~6 pm, and I wanted to see it. It wasn’t the first time I was going to the part of it, but I love these kinds of things, and if I could, I would love to attend the Arti ceremony, every day. I’m a spiritual person, but I don’t talk about it much because it doesn’t really matter.
During the whole Arti ceremony, I was bothered by people’s action. It wasn’t a peaceful experience.
I did write a whole lot of things about Varanasi. If I get some time, I will try to write everything down in another blog because the content is huge.
When everything was over, I went to eat something. I just had 20 rupees in my pocket. I hadn’t eaten all the day, and the money I had wasn’t enough for anything, but I had to do something.
I spent 12 rupees and bought four pouches of water. Near Dashaswamedh Ghat, you can get vegetables, so I bought a lemon for which I paid 2 rupees. I asked for some salt from the Chaiwala, and with 6 rupees in my hand, I bought crystallized sugar lumps also known as Misri.
With everything in my hand, I prepared some Lemonade in my bottle. I wasn’t in a position to waste my money on the packets of chips and bullshit. My body needed some energy, and I couldn’t think of anything better than that.
The lemonade didn’t kill my hunger, but I was so tired that I just wanted to get some rest. After finding a right place to sleep, I spent my night on the ghat.
I wasn’t running out of money, but I didn’t want to cross my budget. I could have used the money and filled my stomach with some fast food, but I didn’t. I wasn’t here to cheat on myself. I wanted to stand for my own words, and I did.
. . .
I woke up in the morning at around 4 am. Everything looked so peaceful and delicate. Not much of the rush, no foreigners trying to act like they have started to understand the meaning of the life, no fakeness in the name of spirituality, no Indian with an accent trying to initiate conversations with the non-Indians, and absolutely no drama. For the next 40 minutes, I was completely numb, and I had no idea what was going on around me. Everything looked changed. I couldn’t believe that I was in the same place which made me bother about so many things that were going on here.
I think the best time to be on any of the Ghats of Varanasi is to visit them when before or during the sun rises.
Yesterday was a rough day. I had to walk a lot. My body was tired, and 4 hours sleep wasn’t enough for my mind. I decided to think about what I’m going to do next when I wake up. Around 4:45 am, I fell asleep in the same place. Surprisingly, I woke up after 4 hours with a fresh mind and not-so-exhausted body. Weird sounds were coming out of my stomach because I hadn’t eaten anything in the last 32 hours, but the good thing is that I had money in my pocket.
After searching for a while, I found a small, but an extremely nice place to eat.
Although he was selling different things, I had an option to choose between Samosas and Puri-Sabzi. After thinking for a while and asking the cost of both, I decided to ditch Puzi-Sabzi.
In 25 rupees, I got 5 Samosas and ate it like a freaking monster, soaked a whole bottle of water within a minute, and shamelessly belched like I was the only person in the room.
It must have been 11 am when I left the place. The weather didn’t look harsh due to the small patches of clouds covering the sun after minutes, but the heat still had its full impact.
My stomach was so full that after walking for 500 m, I started to feel a little bit of pain in the stomach. If you are wondering why does the pain occur when there is a physical work involved after eating, you need to read about the “Autonomic Nervous System, and it’s divisions.” Just some basic biology.
One thing I knew that it’s not the right time to do anything. I immediately went to my favourite place to get some rest.
Assi Ghat, Varanasi.
I had travelled, walked, and observed a lot in the past few days. Whenever I used to get time or during a break, I wrote various things on a paper, but they were not detailed write-ups. When I was resting on a bench under the tree, I took out those papers and spent around 3–4 hours writing everything and explaining everything that was on my mind.
I had no idea about the time. I even forgot that I had to move to Kanpur. Right at that moment, I was feeling so lightweight that I could have just closed my eyes and fell asleep for hours. In the five days, I don’t remember uttering two complete sentences to anyone except when I when I met a person at Sarnath Deer Park.
Carving my thoughts on a blank sheet helped me in dealing with own messed up thought process. I had an option to call, but if there is anything I hate in this world, well, it’s talking over the phone and discussing the day by spitting your smelly feelings.
After a while, I left the place, and at around 5:45 pm, I finally reached the Railway Station. My mind and legs were getting used to covering long distances without bitching about anything. Most importantly, I didn’t whine about anything because I had no other choice other than to do what I had to.
I had decided to move to Kanpur because Varanasi was too comfortable to stay. I’m not kidding. After travelling for more than four days, I was aware of the roads, places where I could spend my day without doing nothing, safe areas to sleep, small restaurants for affordable food, and tons of other things. Although this wasn’t the case when I arrived here, things change, and you adapt.
In less than five days, I had walked 75–80 kilometres. That’s almost spending 15–18 hours walking. It is the exact same amount of time I spend near my computer.
Anyway, I had to search for the train which is filled with the crowd and is always late. The reason for this was that I didn’t want to get caught as I had to travel without the ticket. The checkings are highly uncertain, which means you can’t predict if you’ll make it through or get caught in the middle of your journey.
Well, I found a train whose timing was 5:20 pm but had I arrived at the station at 5:45 pm. The good thing about living in India is that you can gamble on the time schedules of the trains. I immediately checked its status, and it was running an hour late, which is both a good sign and a bad sign.
After waiting for a while and cursing multiple times, the train arrived at 7:10 pm. I was immensely drenched in the sweat and had no intention to find a seat, so I decided to stay near the doors. It wasn’t helpful because the Toilet was stinking worse than a Hydrogen Sulphide. After a while, when the train left the station, things became a little conventional.
My first few hours near the doors were okay, but after a while, I started to feel sleepy, and there is no way I had slept near those Toilets. After searching for a while, I got one seat in the upper berth. I don’t know how but I fell asleep and woke up at 1 am. The train was still running.
. . .
After spending straight 10 hours on the train, I arrived in Kanpur at 5 am. The ten-hour long journey was so pathetic that I was regretting coming here.
There were trains which take around 3–4 hours to come to Kanpur from Varanasi. The only good thing is that I didn’t get caught.
I came out of the station, brushed my teeth, ate breakfast, and started to find a place where I can comfortably sit and later spend my night. To be honest, I had no idea what I’m going to in Kanpur. I came here for the first time. I wasn’t aware of anything. No roads, no places, nothing. This city treated like me a complete stranger.
First thing first, I left my home to live homelessly, I didn’t mean that I can sleep all the day. The whole intention was to explore and learn, but when I was looking for the places to visit them, I wasn’t sure if I should go or not.
Anyway, I took a paper and made a small visual of the places I had to visit along with the distance. It was like a map, but pathetic. The only difference is that the what I made back then was informative. It is how the so-called “map” looked like ~
With the hope of finding something good, I left the railway station at around 7 am. I was nervous and anxious. My day had just begun, but my state of mind didn’t let me think anything positive for a while.
One of the reasons for my nervousness was the atmosphere of Kanpur. In case you don’t know ~
According to the World Health Organisation global air pollution database released in Geneva, India has 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 concentrations — the worst being Kanpur with a PM 2.5 concentration of 173 micrograms per cubic metre. 30–40 minutes after walking, I reached Tapeshwari Devi Mandir. In the morning, I didn’t drink water or brushed my teeth, and now I was thirsty. Due to the shortage of money, I couldn’t buy a bottle of water, so decided to take the risk and taste the tap water. I couldn’t take more than one sip. The water tasted horrible. For a moment, I thought if this is how it goes, I’ll be home with jaundice.
I needed water, and I didn’t have money. Tap water was horrible. The only option I had to knock someone’s door and ask for water, which I did. Asking for favour always worth. At least, I had a bottle filled with clean water.
I spent my rest of the day visiting different places which are on the map. Nothing special happened. At night, I came back to Railway Station. Another day spent on breakfast and water, but I wasn’t hungry, or maybe I didn’t want to eat.
Around 1 pm, I had to change my place where I was sleeping and move to somewhere else because there were tons of dogs on the street. It took some time, but at least I was safe from those demons who could have pissed on me while I was sleeping.
. . .
I had a terrible night. In the past few days, I had to deal with the mosquitoes because I didn’t have any sheet so that I can cover myself while I’m sleeping, but Kanpur was acting worse. There was a time I felt like I’m between Pirhanas. I woke up 100s of times before the sunrise.
I’m not going to lie, but in the morning if I’d have seen someone I know, I would have hugged that person and talked about the night I spent in Kanpur.
My problems were not limited. I had to deal with the extreme pollution, water that tasted like urine, and a lot more. In the last 36 hours, I didn’t drink more than a bottle of water in Kanpur, and even if I’d have wanted, I couldn’t. I wasn’t in the position to spend my money on the water because I had to eat, too. I was facing problems while maintaining the balance. The reason why these things were happening is that I was new to this place, and I needed time to understand things and adapt accordingly, which I didn’t have.
With everything in my mind, I made a plan to visit the places because I had nothing else to do. What do you do when you are homeless? Probably looking for something, right?
Only if the other problems weren’t enough, my phone started to act weird again. In a short span of time, it used to get so hot that I could cook a goddamn omelette on it. I’m not kidding. It was frustrating because I hadn’t clicked any picture yesterday and all these things made me keep my phone inside bag. I had to switch it off because of the heating issues. Xiomi FTW!
Before getting rid of my phone, I was searching for the places to visit. There were nine places which I had to see. Like the other times, I made a small “map-like” bullcrap so that I can get an idea to go to those places without getting too much into trouble.
The map was something similar, but it had a few sweet spots in between two destinations.
Second Day ~ Places I visited in Kanpur.
I remember leaving the railway station at 8:30 am. During the whole journey, I didn’t take out my phone. For a while, things were confusing, but the more I walked, the more things started to get clear.
After visiting Sai Baba Mandir, Manas Park, JK Temple, Moti Jheel, Kargil Park, Baal Udyan, Virendra Swaroop Park, and Brijendra Swaroop Park, I arrived at Srishti Chemicals and finally moved to the Railway Station.
My phone was dead, and I was in no mood to charge it, and I didn’t. After resting for about 10 minutes, I went inside the station to check the time, and I was surprised to see that I travelled for almost 15+ hours. It was 11:45 pm. It made me a little happy and a little proud. It was the first time that I’d have walked more than 30+ kilometres in a single day.
With all the negative feelings inside my mind about Kanpur, I covered a little part of it. My mind wasn’t thinking a lot. I was tired. It was the second day in Kanpur when I didn’t eat anything at night. I had 20 rupees in my hand, and I bought a water bottle. After finishing the water, I filled the bottle with sand, washed it, and kept it in my bag to use it as a nice pillow.
I slept on a chair at the railway station. Probably the first night in Kanpur spent well without much of the curse.
. . .
Although I had to change my place multiple numbers of times, I had a peaceful sleep. At least, there were fewer mosquitoes, but when I woke up, I felt like my both sides of the forehead is getting hammered. I thought it must be happening because I slept way too much, but I wasn’t sure of it. After an hour, the pain got stronger. The weather wasn’t pleasant, and the nearest medical stores that I was aware of was ~2 km away.
I waited a little bit more to see, just in case, if things get normal. I spent an hour laying down on the floor hoping that this pain will go or at least, the impact gets reduced. The day was too hot, and I was wondering if I go outside to get some medicines, I may get hit by some vehicle as I was feeling drowsy. I didn’t want to die, not this way. While I was still on the floor overthinking about how I may die if I go outside, I fell asleep.
I don’t know for how many hours I slept, but when I woke up at ~11:25 am, my headache was almost gone. Although it was a headache, I’ll call it “pain in the ass”. Yes.
At least, now I could go and get a painkiller, which in fact, I did. Spent 7 rupees for the Disprin, and had two tablets with water. Everything was fine after twenty minutes. No pain, and absolutely no gain or whatsoever.
Half of my day was spent doing nothing, and I wasn’t in the mood of staying in Kanpur. My phone was dead, so I had to charge it first. I don’t know but since the time I arrived here my phone was acting way too weird. It took around 30 minutes, and my phone was just 7% charged. I was pissed off, so I took out my phone, switched it on, checked the train to go to Jhansi.
I was lucky to find a train whose departure time from the Kanpur Central Railway Station was 1:22 pm and the whole travelling time was of just 3 hours and 30 minutes. I had only a few minutes, so I rushed to catch it. Fortunately, after ~4 hours, I was in Jhansi. Odd place to go, at least, this is what I feel.
While going to Jhansi without any ticket! Phone’s life was on the edge.
In Jhansi, I didn’t say for long. After coming out of the station, I tried to find a place from where I can buy some “samosa”. With the 40 rupees in my pocket, I got 7 Samosas and ate all of them within 5 minutes. The reason for my hunger was that I hadn’t eaten anything in the last 36 hours.
The loss of surviving on water while travelling is that you don’t leave a chance to pee whenever it’s possible, and you pee, a lot, maybe more than you should. I’m not kidding.
After charging my phone a little, I left the place at ~5:45 pm. At first, I wanted to go to Varanasi directly from Jhansi, but the trains were not good and their travelling time was way too pathetic, so I chose to go to Kanpur and catch another train to go to Varanasi.
In the train, I was getting so bored that at around 10 pm I posted a picture on Instagram telling people I’m in Varanasi (while I was coming) because I couldn’t take Kanpur. I got messed up, a little. After travelling for six hours, I was in Kanpur, and without wasting my time, I searched for another train so that I can finally go to Varanasi.
The train I searched for was the last train that goes to Varanasi from Kanpur. Although I had arrived a little late in here, so does the train. I was lucky. Was fortunate enough to catch the train and move to the destination.
. . .
Around 7 or 8 am, I was in Varanasi. Felt like coming home. I’m not going to lie, but I was desperate to reach home as soon as possible. It was one of the phases which forced me to quit everything I’m doing and leave the place immediately. I had the choice to catch another train and go back to Gorakhpur. My last eight days were rough.
“Just one more day”, I told myself and went outside. I wasn’t in a mood to mess up with everything that was going on, but I’m a human. I’m not an extremely strong person, physically or mentally. It took some time to convince myself and stay, but I did. All this fuss, just for a day.
For today, I had no plan. It was my last day in Varanasi, and I wanted to enjoy a little bit. I made a to-do list and added a few things to it. Here they are ~
Without any further delay, I went Tulsi Ghat (I don’t precisely remember which ghat it was) and spent some quality time in the water for the sake of relaxation. By the time I was done with these activities, I was hungry.
After spending another 20 minutes on the Ghat, I changed my clothes and went to the Dhaba (I had eaten at this place before). Total, I had 100 rupees, but for the sake of honesty, I kept 50 rupees back in my bag. I didn’t want to act greedy.
In case you are wondering what did I eat and how much I paid for it ~
With 2 rupees in my pocket, I left the place spent my all the day visiting Ghats and writing about everything I could. The weather was good, too. Things were looking less hectic, well, it may be because I was planning to leave this place tomorrow. Although I didn’t want to touch my phone, according to my to-do list, I had to spend some time clicking pictures, which I did.
Later that evening, I went to Dashashwamedh Ghat to be the part of Ganga Arti Ceremony. Fortunately, I knew the shlokas and mantras they chant, so, I closed my eyes and spent my whole time during the Arti chanting shlokas. Despite the loudness in the crowd, everything was peaceful. It was my one of the best evenings in Varanasi. I clicked two pictures before the Arti began. For the rest of time, my phone was inside my bag.
Crowd gathered to attend Ganga Arti at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
When everything was over, and the crowd started to disappear, I had to leave the place, too, but since my rest of the day didn’t involve any roughness or hardship, I decided to spend my night on the Ghat.
. . .
I woke up before the sunrise. It must have been around 4 or 4:30 am. After spending some time doing the regular morning works, I went to a nearby temple and spent a few moments of my life with the absolute peace.
After an hour, I finally separated my way from Dashashwamedh Ghat and went to Varanasi Junction. Had to charge my phone, and search for the train. It was my last day in Varanasi, and the last day of living homeless.
Gorakhpur Railway Station
I finally left Varanasi at 7:45 am, and after travelling for 4 hours, I reached Gorakhpur.
Before leaving the station, I was thinking to have a cup of tea and smoke a cigarette, but for some reasons, I didn’t do it. Decided to walk instead of taking an autorickshaw, and after ~45 minutes, I reached home.
My mother opened the door, and the moment she saw me, she had a big smile on her face. She was happy. I hugged her, and after all those days, I was finally home with 50 rupees in my pocket and tons of memories.
. . .
I often listen to people saying that they don’t talk about themselves and they don’t share their feelings with everyone, except for one person. I don’t even do that. It’s not my thing, it never was. I’m not proud of it, but there is nothing I can pretend to do. When I started writing this blog, I was unsure to share everything, but for the first time, I let myself do something which I usually don’t prefer to do.
My whole experience of living as homeless wasn’t full of happiness and joy. Each day, I had to deal with something. My mind was under constant pressure. Some days, I could feel anxiety walking with me, and some days I had to deal with the loneliness. My mental state wasn’t in its best position. Sleeping on the side of streets, waking up and finding yourself covered in dirt, eating unhealthy food, spending the whole day with nothing but water, eating food once in a day, not getting chance to eat, pollution, unclean water, dealing with the rough weather, and finding yourself in a big trap of your decisions, but slowly, I was getting used to deal with all these things.
I travelled, understood, learned, experienced, and observed all different sort of things which I’d never have if I haven’t left my home. I hope my experience helps me in making me a better person.
In my life, at least now I’m not at the place where I used to be. I wanted to do something different, and I did.
. . .
. . .