Hotel Haifa in Varanasi

Hotel Haifa is located near Assi ghat in Varanasi. They are recommended on several on online travel forum and have really good reputation in the market hence they are usually full. I also used to recommend their hotel but did not know about their strange business policy that they do not allow tourist guides inside their hotel. Actually I an American university ‘s student group was staying at Hotel Haifa and they wanted to meet me. They invited to their hotel and we were talking in the restaurant inside the hotel. Suddenly the owner of the hotel Mr. Ravi Mishra showed up to introduce himself to the group.

After talking with them he asked me how come I was there. I told him that the group had invited me because they wanted to talk with me and he seemed upset hearing this. He told me- Listen, I want to make this clear to you that I do not allow guides and outsiders to enter in my hotel. I was shocked to hear this. He said that he doesn’t allow tourist guides to enter in the hotel and talk with the clients. He asked me not to enter in his hotel again. After talking with me he told the same thing to the group. They were all looking at me with surprised face. They told me sorry for whatever happened.

I was really shocked and felt guilty for whatever happened with me. It was the first time when somebody insulted me. We stopped our meeting and left the hotel. I talked about it with a few people who had already stayed at the Hotel Haifa and one of them told me – The restaurant staff was eager to please, but I felt slightly intimidated by the demeanor of management. They do promote their own tour guides, money changing and travel agent services so that explains what they are doing to you. As an American traveling alone, I liked having one person I could count on and had developed a rapport with leading up to the trip. They want to be the guests’ primary resource or they have touts they want to network with.

I don’t know what to say about this but it is really strange if they do not allow locals or tourist guides to meet with their clients. I think they don’t want their clients to meet with locals so that their clients always hear them and finally they can be cheated easily. I had heard about British prohibiting Dogs and Indians at several places but it all happened in early 1900 and now I see the same thing happening in the 21st century even we are already independent and have our own government. Do you really think that you want to support such hotel by staying there? I am not going to work with anyone whoever stays there.

Injured man refused hospital admission

Yesterday I saw something inhuman crazy activity in BHU. I have already had so many bad experiences with BHU and what I saw yesterday really shocked me. I went to IMS (Institute of Medical Sciences) at BHU yesterday. After parking my bike I saw a bunch of people standing together near the main gate of IMS building which looked unusual because the security there doesn’t allow public gathering. I also went to see what was happening there and found that there was an injured fainted person, very close to death, was lying down on the ground.

He had injuries on his face and maybe he had epilepsy attack also. I heard people saying that somebody had beaten him. There were at least ten people standing around him but nobody wanted to take him to the hospital. They said that they had informed the police and when police comes then they would take care of him. Since IMS is medicine studies center, a lot of doctors were going in and coming out of the building. They also saw him but did not show any interest in helping this person. All of this was going on in the premises of one of the best medical colleges in India and very well known all over the world.

Finally police came, asked the people what had happened to him but they also did not seem interested in helping. They sat on a bike just next to this person and were talking about something of their interest. They were laughing and seemed like not concerned at all about this injured person who seemed very close to death to me. Finally after a few minutes one policeman came and started asking this person to wake up and go out of the IMS premises. They were hitting him slowly by their foot, they dragged him on road hoping that he would wake up but it was impossible.

Finally police left without doing anything. I was like what the hell is this? Somebody needed urgent medical assistance but nothing happened even he was inside the premises of the one of the best medical colleges of India. Doctors saw him, the police saw him, many other people saw him but nobody helped. Finally I saw two students coming with a first aid box but they were not doctors and this person needed more than first aid box. They said that they would also inform the police because it was not safe for them to help this person without informing the police.

They said that this person was a thief and was trying to steal something from IMS building hence it was not safe for them to help this person. I understand them because I know how crazy our police is but what about those doctors or the policemen who came to see him? It was really cruel. Doesn’t matter whether he was a thief or what but he was dying. We are spending Rs. 8,00,500 per day to keep Ajmal Kasab in our jail who had killed hundreds of people at Taj but not even general medical assistance to this person only because he was a thief ? I was really socked to see this crazy behavior of police and the doctors. I have no words to explain that cruelty.

Italian language course

I have joined Italian language course. I have always wanted to learn any foreign language but there was not much opportunity for me in Varanasi as BHU and Sampoornanand Sanskrit Universitiy were the only two places in Varanasi teaching foreign languages and BHU did not allow outers and going to Sampooranand was just like waste of time. I was not so interested in Italian but I enrolled for the classes thinking that if I would wait for BHU or any other place then I would not be able to learn anything for years.

I wanted to learn German and Sampoornanand University offers 6 months diploma courses in six or seven foreign languages and German is also one of them. I had enrolled for German classes about four years ago but did not go there because they were just not running the classes properly and I was so worried about it. The other students at the university told me to not worry about it because they give certificate to each and every student whoever enrolls for the program, even if they do not pass the final exam. So finally I decided to stop going there.

This Italian language course is run by an Italian institution called Centro Risorse India. Centro Risorse India doesn’t only teach Italian to Indians but they also help Italian students in India and I work as translator at Centro Risorse India Varanasi branch. The whole course is of 50 hours, 3 hours on every weekends. The classes take place at a school near Godoulia. They have two teachers. One of them is an Indian girl from Delhi who also works for Centro Resource India, Pune center and other girl is an Italian scholar who speaks good Hindi.

There are 6 students including me. One of them is also a tour guide and works with Japanese tourists. Other one is a Hindi teacher. Our teachers are very good. They are not using that traditional method of teaching where they use only books to teach. They put us in different kinds of games, role plays and make us talk often. I don’t really know how long would it take me to start speaking or writing in Italian but it seems so hard and confusing. The pronunciation and grammar is something completely new to me. I will try my best but lets see how long does it take.

Research on secular philosophers and cremationists

Adam, PhD candidate, University of Chicago, came back to Benaers and stayed at my place again. This year he wanted to do some basic research about his upcoming research in India next year. He wanted to study Hindi as well but for that he had decided to go to Masoorie. Adam was interested in two subjects- labors at construction sites or Doams (the people who work at cremation place). Adam has come this year with his fiance, Megan, who is doing a research for her school, Smith college, Boston, about secular Indian philosophers. She just wants to collect some data about them.

She wants to visit BHU and see if they have any books available written by any secular Indian philosophers who existed in between 1850-1940. Megan said that she went to University of Maisoore also but could not get anything because there was no one to help her at the university. She went there several times but could not get any help and then she decided to leave Maisoore and came to Benares. She wanted to visit the BHU library and wanted to talk with some professors at philosophy department. I took help of my one friend who studies at BHU and he took us the university.

We went to the International Students Center first where we met with the officer who asked us to meet the head of the central library. We went to the central library and met with the head. Adam and Megan both were shocked to see the library of BHU. They said that BHU’s library was a way better than the library of University of Masoorie. They said that people were also very nice and helping at BHU. The asked Megan to write them a letter asking for permission to visit the library and after doing it, we were allowed to look at the books. Megan, Adam, my friend Ravi and I visited the library with few staffs of the library who were showing us around.

Megan found few books that were good for her research and wanted to get it xeroxed but actually it was impossible to xerox those books because those books were too old and pages were in terrible condition. So finally Megan had to write another letter asking them to provide digital format of the book. They asked us to come after 5 days and collect the book in digital format. After the library we went to the philosophy department and met a professor. He was crazy. He was more interested in showing his own research to Megan. He did not want to hear what Megan was doing.

He started showing the books he had written and started talking about himself and just did not want to stop or let Megan ask something about her research. Finally after hearing him for an hour, he asked what Megan needed. Megan told him about her research and he asked Megan to come next day so that he could research the philosophy department library but he had said that the library had a few books that would be good for her research. �After meeting him we came back to home and Megan said that it was a successful day for her research.

The work at BHU today motivated her to keep her research going on otherwise she had given-up after visiting University of Maisoore. I am happy for Megan’s research. Adam wanted to talk with a doam so I took him to Harishchandra Ghat and introduced him to a guy whom I had met while working with CBC’s documentary Myths and Might. We met at the Harishchandra Ghat and he took us to the electric burner where he works. I had never been to a electric burner but this time the electric burner was the place to interview.

We talked for few hours and Adam and Megan asked him several different kinds of questions about his personal life, social status, discrimination… Adam wanted to gift something to him so I asked the Doam where was the nearest sweet shop and the Doam asked us why we wanted to go to a sweet shop and I told him that Adam wanted to gift him some sweets. After hearing this the Doam said that Doams are not the kind of people who love sweets, they love alcohol. So we bought him a bottle of whiskey.

Banaras Hindu University Hospital cancer treatment for Prabhu

My friend, Prabhu, got sick a few days ago. He was in extreme pain from a stomachache. He was taken to the BHU (Benares Hindu University) emergency ward immediately. Doctors checked him and said that he had some serious problem. Prabhu wanted to be admitted to the hospital but doctors there did not want to admit him. They said that there was no empty bed in the emergency ward. They told Prabhu’s parents to go upstairs and see if there was any bed available in the general ward. Prabhu’s family went to the general ward and found that the general ward also did not have any empty bed.

Prabhu was in extreme pain and he was crying but doctors did not want to see him. Finally Prabhu’s family decided to take him to some other hospital. They took him to a hospital called Mata Anandmayi Hospital, Bhadaini but same thing was there also- no bed. Prabhu was still crying and now he almost fainted. They took him again to BHU but the doctors were showing strange behavior. Now they did not want to talk to Prabhu’s family. Prabhu’s father even touched the feet of the doctors requesting them to treat Prabhu but these crazy doctors were telling the same thing again and again that there was no seat available in the hospital.

They asked the doctors to at least start the medication but they did not want to do this either. It seemed like they just did not want to see Prabhu. They again took him to Mata Anandmayi Hospital but again the same thing- this hospital still did not have a seat. They did not want to go to some other hospital because these two hospitals were government hospitals and were cheap. They were more looking for BHU because it was big and it had lots of advanced facilities. They again went to BHU and this time the doctor just threw Prabhu’s papers and told them to get out of hospital and do not come again.

Prabhu’s pain had started in the early morning and it was evening time now but still he could not get any medication. Prabhu’s parents were so angry that they started yelling at the doctors and other employees of the hospital. Finally the doctors called the security guards and asked them to kick Prabhu’s family out of the hospital. Now Prabhu’s family did not know what to do. One of Prabhu’s friends knew the ex-president of the students union of BHU. He thought to call him and ask for help.

They called him and told him everything. The ex-president called the doctor and said that Prabhu was his relative and then this doctor said that Prabhu should have told them before about his relationship. Doctors said that they will arrange a bed for Prabhu. After the call of this president, the doctors arranged a bed for Prabhu. I don’t know where they brought this bed from. I think they already had a bed but they just did not want to admit Prabhu for whatever reason. Well, finally Prabhu was admitted to the hospital at 11 o’clock night time. �

They did all the testing and started medication. Prabhu was getting better now but then doctors said that they would operate on Prabhu. They said it would be better if this operation was done at PGI, Lucknow. Prabhu’s family brought Prabhu to PGI, Lucknow and again they had to face the same situation. PGI doctors also said that they did not have a bed. Prabhu’s brother knew some very famous Baba in Lucknow. He called this Baba and the Baba called to the hospital and after this call they said that they could arrange a bed for Prabhu.

He was admitted to the hospital for a few hours and then doctors came and checked him for a minute, looked at the old reports and said that he had colon cancer. They also said that they will have to operate on him but still they can not guarantee that he will be alive even for next ten days. They asked Prabhu’s family to immediately deposit Rs. 1,25,000 ($2,500). As Prabhu heard that doctors wanted to operate on him and they said said that they did know if Prabhu would be alive after the operation, Prabhu asked his parents to bring him back to Benares. He said that if he has to die then he would prefer dying in Benares.

This news spread in my neighborhood like a fire in the jungle. Everybody was so sad that Prabhu had cancer. We could not believe that he was going to die. Everybody was so sad. Prabhu came to Benares and I wanted to see him but I did not find myself brave enough to see him. There is a very famous cancer research center in Mumbai called TATA Memorial Center. I suggested Prabhu’s family to take him to TATA Memorial. I called my friend Alok in Mumbai and told him about the situation. I asked him to take an appointment with the TATA Memorial to talk about Prabhu.

I emailed him all Prabhu’s medical reports. Alok took the appointment for the same day and talked to the doctors and showed them all the reports, and TATA’s doctors said after looking at those reports nobody could say that the patient had cancer. They said that if the doctors at PGI had said that the patient had cancer after looking at those reports, then they were wrong. Alok called me and gave this beautiful news. I was so happy to hear that Prabhu did not have cancer. Prabhu was admitted at some private hospital now. I immediately went to see Prabhu and gave them this news.

Prabhu and his family, everyone started crying from happiness. Everybody was so happy. Doctors operated on him at that private hospital and now Prabhu is a lot better. He is back home now and feels normal. Doctors have connected a plastic tube to his intestine to discharge stool but doctors say that he will be alright and they will remove this plastic tube within the next six months. �Prabhu is now scared of BHU and never wants to go there again for any reason. Even though it is cheaper for him to get medication at BHU, he just doesn’t want to think about it.

My baby fell down from a chair and broke his head a few days ago. He was bleeding hard. We took him immediately to the BHU emergency ward. BHU has two registration counters. One opens during day time and other one, which is in the emergency ward, opens after the first one closes. The emergency ward registration counter is supposed to close at 8 o’clock. I had reached there around 7.15 and the counter was already closed which means at this time there was no registration going on anywhere in BHU, crazy. The doctor asked me to get a registration paper. I went to the registration counter and found it closed.�

I asked a few security guards sitting there about how to get a registration paper and they told me enter the room from the back-door. I got inside the room from back-door and saw two people counting the money. I asked him to make a registration paper for my baby but he seemed more busy with counting the money. At the same time another person who wanted to register his patient, opened the window and asked for a registration. The person sitting at the counter became angry at him and asked him very loudly how dare he to open the window. The person at the window said that it was emergency case and doctors had asked him to bring the registration paper and since the window was closed, where could he get it if he had not opened the window.

This made the clerk more angry and he hit his hand with the shutter of the window. Now his hand was stuck in the window and this crazy clerk was hitting his hand again and again. That person was in pain for sure. Finally the clerk closed the window and I don’t know what happened with the patient. Maybe they waited for the general registration counter to open or went to some other hospital. Then the clerk looked at me and asked why did I come inside his room. I was already angry after seeing his behavior so I was also speaking very loudly in Benares language, to make him aware that I was local, that doctor had sent me to get a registration paper.�

The clerk told the other person sitting there to make a registration paper for me. I went with the registration paper to the doctor and then the doctor made me write that I was the guardian of the baby, that baby had fallen down from the chair and that I would not go to the police in the future for this case. After this they started looking at my baby and asked me to buy nylon thread for stitching and some other medicines because they did not have anything. It was crazy that the emergency ward of BHU did not have nylon thread. I have heard that BHU employees sell the stuff that they get to use for patients.

I left the baby with my brother at the hospital and went out to get the medicines. After I came back with the thread and other medicines, the doctors asked me to wait because there was no doctor who could do stitching. It was 7.45 now and they asked me to wait for 15 more minutes. I waited for 15 minutes and then I again asked them if the doctor had come and they again told me to wait for few more minutes. My baby was still bleeding and crying but there was no doctor to do stitching in an emergency service center of a big hospital. After an hour few junior doctors (students) came. I asked them to look after the baby and they told me that they could not do it without permission of a senior doctor. They also asked me to wait for a little more time.

I did not know what to do. I was in a hospital but there was no doctor available. Finally after an hour and a half those junior doctors decided to start stitching. My baby’s medication was started after an hour and a half of reaching to the hospital. And this all happened in BHU which is one of the biggest hospitals of Uttar Pradesh. I am also so scared of BHU like Prabhu is and I have decided that I will never ever go back to BHU for any case. I got my baby’s stitches removed at some other hospital.

All the government hospitals are in the same condition- they do not care about the people. Their employees just care about the money. BHU makes a huge amount of money. They host international conferences. People from all over the world come to BHU to do research but the reality is something different. I often hear people talking about the bad services of BHU hospital because they always make the same mistakes again and again. Most of the patients who come to BHU are poor people from out of Varanasi. It is really bad for us because health insurance is still not popular in India and most of the people do not have it. We can not go to any private hospitals because they are so expensive and these government services are awful. After this crazy experience anyone would be compelled to wonder if the hospitals are made to save the life or kill?

25 new HIV patients everyday

I went to the NACO (National AIDS control Organization) center at BHU with Claire today to get some data about HIV patients in Varanasi for our upcoming workshop at schools. First of all the counselor did not agree to give us any data, and told us to contact the head of the department first and then get permission. I had told her that I was from an NGO but still she did not want to give us any data. We went to the head of department’s room but could not meet him as he was busy with someone else.

We waited for two hours at the counselor’s room. We saw many people coming to get tested. I met a girl who was HIV positive and now volunteers for the NACO center. After spending a few minutes the counselor became friends with Claire and told us everything we were looking for. I am sure she did it only because a white skinned person was there. She said that NACO has a testing center in a lot of different districts of Uttar Pradesh but the BHU one is the only one in all of Poorvanchal where they have ELISA testing facility.

Poorvanchal is a county of Uttar Pradesh which contains seventeen districts. I was shocked to hear that all the people who want to get tested for HIV enentually come to Varanasi center. They can get tested in their districts as well but those reports are not considered as the final report. The ELISA test is the most reliable test and is available in Poorvanchal only at BHU center. She said that the number of HIV patients has increased rapidly within the past few years. When she joined the job nine years ago they had only five-six hundred people every month who wanted to get tested but now this number is between one hundred and fifty and two hundred.

She said that they had hardly fifty to hundred positive results every month a few years ago but now they have at least twenty five positive results everyday. This number was huge and I could not believe it. The interesting thing was that they have only people who are sent by some doctor, think about the people who do not know if they have HIV. She also admitted that the number of positive cases will increase rapidly within the next few years because government’s approach towards this issue is insufficient.

She was not happy with her job. She said that her salary was too low. She said that the WHO gives huge amount of money to the Indian government then Indian government gives money to the Uttar Pradesh government and then Uttar Pradesh government gives money to NACO therefore most of the money is eaten by the politicians and other people involved with this project.

There was one thing that I liked most about this work is that now they give free ARVs to every positive patient. They do not give ARVs to every patient, they are given to only those people whose CD4 is below some dangerous level. I asked her about the number but she did not tell me about it.

Tabla lessons in Varanasi

A student named Allen Roda from University of New York came to my guest house on the 12th. He is doing research on Tabla making which sounds like nobody has done before. He is going to write about everything about tabla making e.i. where does the skin come from, who makes them, where does the wood come from… just everything. He already knew few people in Varanasi and had already contacted them before. I thought it would be good for him to meet Mr. Deobrat Mishra. I introduced him to Mr. Mishra and Allen told me that he really liked Mr. Mishra’s suggestions.

I wanted to introduce Allen to Mr. Praveen Uddhav who is senior lecturererof Tabla at BHU and by chance Mr. Mishra also advised Allen to meet him. We went to Mr. Uddhav’s place and met him. Mr. Uddhav seemed a little bit concerned about Allen meeting with other Tabla makers in Varanasi. He introduced us to a Irish guy named Steve at his place who had been cheated by a tout a few days ago. Steve said that he came to Varanasi to learn Tabla. He wanted to do M.Mus. from BHU.

He met a guy named Siddharth who told Steve that he will have to buy different instruments even if he just wanted to learn Tabla at BHU. Steve believed him and went for shopping with Siddharth. Siddharth made him buy 30-40 different instruments worth $23,000. I don’t know why Steve believed him. He paid this big amount and bought all kinds of instruments that were available in the shop, even he bought western drums and other instruments. After it, Siddhrath stopped meeting him. After few days Steve went to BHU for admission and met Mr. Uddhav. He said Mr. Uddhav that he had bought all the instruments and wanted to get admission in M. Mus.

Mr. Uddhav asked him whey did he buy all those instruments if he just wanted to learn Tabla and Steve explained what had happened with him. He still did not know that he was cheated. Finally he came to know that he needed only a pair of Tabla to start learning which is something like $100. He went to the police and lodged a FIR against Siddharth. Police arrested Siddharath’s father because he was now not in the city. Siddhrath’s father gave Rs. 4,00,000 ($8,000) back to Steve and promised to give the rest in next few days. I feel so sorry for whatever happened with Steve but it happens in Varanasi.

I think this is the reason why Mr. Uddav did not want Allen to meet too much new people. I think it is Okay with Allen to meet as many people as he wants. I am sure he will never ever give even $23 to anyone without making proper enquiry. We saw Mr. Uddhav’s 8 years old daughter playing Tabla. She was too good on Tabla. Mr. Uddhav said that she can play all the different sounds. She just needs to boost up her finger’s speed on Tabla and she will be just like other famous players.

I think Allen met at least fifteen new people which is very good for his research. He is leaving on the 18th and will be back again for his research in June when he will spend one year in Varanasi. He wants to come with his wife, Nikki, who works for Federal Reserve Bank. Nikki wants to spend her time in Varanasi volunteering. She was looking for a organization that can give her some work related to economics and she found found one called Cashpor India. They are a micro finance trust and give small loans to poor people. I think this trust will be perfect for Nikki.

American Biologist at BHU Conference

I had a tenant in my home from USA. His name was Dave. He was a Biologist. He lives in Fresno, California. There was a conference going on in BHU about world environment and my tenant was also invited there to give a speech. It was his speech at 3’o clock at BHU on 28/03/2008. I went there with my another friend from USA named Amanda. She was doing research on history of Coke in India. I was working with her as translator. We all went together to BHU. Dave wanted to introduce his company in India. He loves India a lot. He always wants to come back, live here and learn Hindi. He wanted to tell people about wetlands.

Dave was supposed to give a speech about wetlands at 3’o clock. We reached there at 2.45. We had a special seat of guests. It was my first time when I was sitting at guests seat (thanx Dave). I, Amanda and Dave were waiting for Dave’s turn but unfortunately his turn didn’t never came. We were there till 7.30 but nobody called Dave to come on stage and give an speech. I was not hoping for such a disgusting thing by one of the most famous universities of world. We were all so sad and contacted BHU officials. They said sorry to us and called again next day at 10’o clock.

Next day, we were again on time and waited till 2.30 but nobody called Dave’s name. It was Dave’s speech in Mehndiganj Water Conference at 3’o clock. So, finally we decided to kick BHU out of our mind and went to Mehndiganj. We reached there 30 minutes late but Dave got a chance to speak there.
Dave still wanted to give speech in BHU. He contacted BHU officials again but they had no answer. Well, it was only 3 days conference. So, Dave never got opportunity to speak there.

Mehdiganj Water Conference

There was a conference in Mehndigani about water rights from 28th to 30th March, 2008. I was invited by Nandlal to attend the conference. I was so excited when I heard that Sandeep Pandey and Medha Patekar were also going to give speech. Then Nandlal told me that there was a girl from the U.S. who also wanted to attend the conference and interview local villagers about their problems caused by Coke. She wanted a translator which made my excitement double because I was going to get a job. :)

I called her and scheduled an appointment at Assi Ghat. I met her near Assi Ghat and we had a big conversation about Coke in Mehndiganj. Finally I took her to my home where I showed her all the documents regarding Coke issue in Mehndiganj, Plachimada and Kaladera. Finally she offered me a job as her translator. She was a PhD student of history at very big university in the States. She asked me not to mention the name of the university. She seemed like such a nice girl to me. She was so educated and friendly. She was interested in history of Coca-Cola in India.

She was staying in BHU hostel which was arranged by her university but she didn’t like it because there was no Internet access in her room. She had to walk for 10-15 minutes every time to use Internet. There was another tenant in my home that time who was a biologist whose company could be very helpful for her because one part of her research was about decrease of ground water. She saw rooms of my guest house where there was Internet in all the rooms and and a biologist in next room which made her decided to switch to my place.

I attended the Mehdiganj conference with her doing translation work. We interviewed a lot of people, including social workers from Kaladera also. I have not written her name in this post because she was sexually harassed during her work and she wanted her name to not be written here. If you want to know the story then read this post.

Research for CBC Cremation Documentary

Nandlal called me to ask about Doams (people who work at cremation place) in Varanasi. He told me that his friend is in Varanasi nowadays and wants to make a documentary about Doam’s life. Since I live near the Ghats and I have lots of friends who live along the ghats, it was easy for me get information about Doams. He met me at Assi Ghat and we went to all the hotels nearby because he didn’t know at which hotel his friend was staying. We went to over 10 hotels near Assi but couldn’t find him. Finally I took him to a hotel which was near the Assi ghat and fortunately found his friend there. I asked him about his job and he said that he was as a freelance journalist. He used to work for BBC but left the job few years ago. At present he was working for a CBC’s documentary called Myths and Might.

His job was to look for the right characters, schedule appointment for interviews and get legal permission. Since he didn’t know anyone in Varanasi he wanted my help to find him the right characters. He was looking for a young doam character whose father still works at funeral place and the character goes for computer classes or have some computer related job. They wanted to show how Indian was changing. I took him to Manikarnika ghat (funeral ghat) because I knew few people there. I got him meet over 10 people. Everybody wanted to be involved with us. We met few people who had wood shop at funeral place. They told us to come next day. Then I met my few other friends who live near the Manikarnika ghat and asked them about doams. I was shocked to hear that doams still have a king. They said that we cant do anything without his permission. It was getting darker now, so, we decided to get back to home and do some more research.

Next day we left home early morning and went to Manikarnika ghat again. We met met a lot of new people who work at funeral place and asked if their son go to school. It was again a shocking thing for me when I didnt hear anyone saying that their son go to school. We talked to over 15 people but couldn’t find anyone whose son or daughter was going to school. Then we went to Harishchandra Ghat, another funeral ghat, and talked to a lot of people. We met a 55 years old person who works at Electric Burner at Harishchandra Ghat and his son was having a job in Reliance Money. We went to his home, met his family, talked them and told them about CBC’s project. They got agree to be part of this documentary.

They said that their son Raja Babu, our character, has a LLB degree from Banaras Hindu University. And now he works for Reliance Money as Area Manager. This is the kind of character we were looking for. They said that after he had completed his 5th class no school was agree to take him because Doams are still considered as untouchables in society. His father used to be a rickshaw driver and would make about Rs. 50-75 a day and it was so hard for him to take care of his family with that much money but he still wanted to send his children to schools. Since no school was agree to take Raja Babu in he stopped going to school but never stopped his studies, he continued his studies by his own.

After few months Raja Babu started working at Doctor’s clinic as a helper. This doctor helped Raja Babu a lot. He used to teach Raja Babu, train him about medicines and give some money also. Once a dead body of a very rich and respected person from Varanasi came to Harishchandra Ghat to get cremated and fortunately it was Raja Babu uncle’s turn to work there. When a body is cremated, family can not burn the body by their own source of fire, they have to ask a Doam to bring them fire from cremation place God, Shiva, temple and doams ask for money to do that. But this time Raja Babu’s uncle asked for admissions of Raja Babu in a school instead of money and that family had to promise them to get Raja Babu in a school.

So this is how Raja Babu got opportunity to go to school again. He got admission in Bengali Tola Inter College, Varanasi and passed 12th class from there.Raja Babu had hard time in school with other kids because nobody would treat him well. After completing 12th class Raja Babu applied for B.A. degree from BHU and got admission. So finally he completed B.A. , M.A. and LLB from BHU. After completing LLB he worked for a American NGO called Cash for India in Gazipur district as accountant. After two years he left the job and joined Reliance Money. This was amazing character for us, so, we decided to choose him.

Next day we went to Doam Raja (king of Doam society) home. He was so fat that he couldn’t walk properly. We went to meet him inside his home and it was not a normal home. They cook the food by burning the woods that are left after cremating a body. His house had strange smell. He had cows, goats, dogs and a huge family with more than 10 kids and two brothers and everybody was living in the same house. It was 8’o clock morning time when we reached his home and Doam Raja was completely drunk, all time all alcohol. He was sitting at his bed and told us to sit on a bed in front of him. I saw few pieces of meat and blood under his bed. It seems that he eats raw meat and drink alcohol early morning.

We described him about CBC’s project and he gave us consent to shoot at Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. Then we went to his roof and saw statues of two tigers. It was funny to see those at someone’s roof. There was a story related to those tigers also. People say that Doam Raja and King of Benares were never ever friends. Doam Raja got a Tiger’s statue built at his roof. The statue was facing towards Maharaja’s palace which Maharaja didn’t like at all so sued Doam Raja in court of Benares. Finally this case was ended with the judgment of court saying Doam Raja to either knock down that statue or built another one that has its face at opposite direction of first one. So he got another statue built that a its face at opposite direction of the first one.

Now CBC guy had got everything he wanted, like he had all the characters, permission from Doam Raja, permission from city government etc…………….