Life and Death on the Ganges.
That people come to Varanasi to bath in the Ganges is well known. Tourists swarm on boats to take pictures of it daily. But a girl pointed out to us when we asked about a small whirlpool in the river that it was water was being sucked up into a huge city water tank. Was this the city water? Does that mean we were all bathing in the Ganges? Even from the hotel shower?
Earlier, we had been given quite an insiders tour of the cremation ghat as we were staying right above there. A guy took us right up to the smoldering fires and then up to see an old hag whom takes donations for wood. Wood is expensive. He explained that not everyone can afford to be cremated so they are then tossed into the river. Additionally, holy men, children under 12, pregnant women and lepers are not burned but weighted down and also thrown in. You'd think they would want to burn lepers but for whatever reason they don't.
We could be showering in leper water. Oh God....what a horrible thought....as bad as boogie boarding through floating bodies...but the reality is that its not the lepers or the dead people, its the toxic sludge and shit that has polluted this holy of holiest rivers that makes your skin crawl.
And of course I don't really believe that we are showering in untreated water but I don't know what would treat what I have seen. One thing for sure...I did see that half the time when one sends one's laundry out to be done and you assume it's going to some laundry place somewhere, it may just be going to the washing ghat as I did see plenty of westerner's clothes out drying there ...just being freshly washed in the Ganges. Therefore, there are a number of tourists somewhere happily wearing their freshly laundered clothes with just a hint of toilette du leper