Kharjaraho station. 9pm. Discussing amongst ourselves what is the best plan of action for finding a place to sleep with such late notice. As soon as we stepped off the train we were surrounded by 20 or more teenagers. They swamped us with offers for cheap hotels and because there were so many, it really was very cheap. We took two auto rickshaws (known as India's helicopters), to yogi lodge.
Yogi lodge was clean, cheap and accessible. We ate on the roof top where they had a special tandoor oven in which they cooked lots of different chicken dishes. I tried the butter chicken. Its very different to what we are used to. No where near as creamy and more complex spice mixes. We were approached by a young man named yogi who invited us to his table. He was from south Delhi and a label designer.
Yogi and his friends talked to us about lots of things from cricket to caste systems. These guys were pretty wealthy and were throwing around 1000rs notes like they were nothing. Rum after rum were delivered to our table free of charge as their guests. One of yogis friend who was not a Hindu explained the caste system to me.
The top caste are brahmins. They are the holy men and pilgrims who devote to god. Foreigners sit in this caste because we are usually white and rich comparatively. The next caste I can't remember the names but the one below are a warrior caste of which yogi and another of his friends belonged to. Under that are the business men and women followed by the servants and finally the bottom caste who clean toilets and other lowly jobs. I found it interesting how yogi could be so charming and friendly yet when his friend from a lower caste said something he didn't agree with he would tell him to shut up and the lower caste man would agree and apologize.
I have also heard stories that the bottom caste are sometimes known as untouchables and if you say... Hold a slum kids hand for instance, the brahmins will be offended and disgusted. Another odd story is the one about it being bad luck if an untouchable strolls past your car before a journey. The only way to remedy this bad luck is to buy said untouchable a pair of shoes. It is said that these people have rags for clothes but a great shoe collection.
Waking up with a hangover the following morning we explored the 11th century hindu temples dedicated to Shiva and ganesh which are home to the sexy Kama sutra statues. It began to rain so we went to seek refuge from the downpour in one of the temples. That night we went to an Italian restaurant and ate organic pizza. It was very expensive but very nice food and a clean European standards style restaurant.
The last day we visited the waterfalls about 20km away in a tuk tuk we hired for the day. Camille drove us for a while which she was very excited about. The waterfalls were incredible. So aggressive and powerful but beautiful and elegant at the same time. Monsoon is the best time to see them as the tide is so high. The water is 100m deep in some parts. Our guide was a friendly young chap in a jungle leopard print suit. Fantastic. We compared cotton shirts and joked about clothes. After the tour he gave us beedie cigarettes to try. They are a rolled up dried leaf from the trees that grow there. It was not to my taste. After stopping to teach a young farming boy some French words we got our driver to take us to the train station to board a train to Varanasi. Our driver was very sweet. He told us he had a great day coming with us and seeing temples and waterfalls, drinking chai and listening to us laugh. He finished by saying he wish he could come to Varanasi with us and wished us a safe journey.
Tip of the day - wear a poncho or rain jacket before it rains when you are still dry, not afterwards when you are drenched.