Madame Wandering Trader Chronicles: Experiencing Varanasi

This is guest post written by the Madame WanderingTrader

Going into the heart of the city in Varanasi was nothing short of witnessing what I never thought I could experience.  We arrived at the edge of the Ganges Rives and started to explore the people in the area.

There were lots of people and confusion.

I very quickly felt the pressure of having to watch my steps and my surroundings, very uncomfortable feeling.

Sunrise Cruise Varanasi

Sunrise Cruise Varanasi

Many of these people are in such need for survival that they have learned to pressure tourists for money to almost a point of harassment.  It is the disastrous consequences of the Indian Mafia.

It was difficult to enjoy the area and the people with all of this going on around you.

As terrible as I felt for them, I also realized that many of these people are just looking for easy money.

They have learned over time  where to get it with tourist falling for their tricks.  One example is extending their hands to you wanting to shake your hand saying hello.

Once you extend your hand back in reciprocation, they grab you with force and massage your arms and then, they expect money for the work they did!  I just found this behavior very misleading.

Marcello Arrambide & Madame WanderingTrader

Marcello Arrambide (WanderingTrader) & Madame WanderingTrader

This is a very good point to tell you that India is NOT a place for a foreign woman to go alone and explore, you will find yourself in trouble real fast.

This is very sad, there is a lot of beautiful culture and history to explore in India.

There are beautiful people that are proud of who they are and want you to know about them, but it is exhausting to be in guard the whole time.  We eventually figured out what was going on and adapted to that behavior.

I made an effort to shake it off and focus in the beautiful faces that would just smile back and I was able to make some great connections with some of these very spiritual human beings.

This part was awesome, we took some great pictures.

My heart just dropped when we arrived to the Main Ghat where the locals proceed with the ritual of cremation in open pits and discard the remains into the river.  It was very difficult to understand this process.

Madame Wandering Trader Varanasi

Madame Wandering Trader interacting with the locals in Varanasi

It was very painful to watch, however, I had to understand it was their culture and most important, I was in their land.

I worked hard to embrace their process, culture and beliefs.

It took a little time to come to terms, we came back the next day and had an incredible experience with a beautiful boat ride during sunrise.  This is one of the reasons to travel to India my son told me. We then embraced a different view and kept in our hearts the beautiful surroundings at that time when everything was quiet, a lot of peace in the air and prayer going on.

Varanasi was my second stop in India, we found a lot of the truth and real people. We found a local market where we were able to find great bargains on textiles and miscellaneous souvenirs.  The mementos were sold by hard working people trying to make a living the right way which is what I loved to see.

Next stop Khajuraho…..


  1. India is definitely a challenging and often heart breaking destination to visit. It is also one of the most amazing places on earth, which hits home almost as soon as you set foot there. I’m returning for several weeks after completing the Everest Anniversary Trek in June, really cannot wait.

    Glad to hear Madame WanderingTrader was up to the challenge and seemed to feel enriched by the experience.

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