It was March 2016 and I was in India, in the Holy city of Varanasi, waiting for a group of travellers from The Wanderlust travel agency who were arriving a few days later.
Every time I’m in that city I spend a lot of the time walking along the banks of the Ganges River, especially at sunrise where the only sound that breaks the silence is the sound of mantras. Small groups of Hindu people here and there do their rituals before the streets become flooded with people. I was walking from one ritual to another ritual when I was approached by a Sadhu (Holy Man). – Chai?! – He said,- why not?! I thought. I love Indian tea. He and I were sitting on the stairs next to a tiny tavern that sits under an also tiny temple. – Two. – I said. The tavern owner smiled and went to the river to get water for the chai. The conversation flowed with the Holy Man, with his painted face, dreadlocks, big beard and naked torso. He said that he has been happier since he began living on the streets of Varanasi and meditating, he lives from the offerings he receives.
Meanwhile the chai was served, and I let it cool down for a few minutes before I started drinking in small sips. I had the Ganges River in front of me, and in it a lot of stuff was happening; the people were washing clothes on one side, on another they were bathing, not that far away a kid was washing a cow, and in the background is where each day they send the ashes of thousands of bodies into the water after being cremated. Fábio?! You are drinking chai made with this water!- It was the thought that came and stayed with me for a while. My cup of chai was already half drunk. We shouldn’t waste food: that was what my parents always taught me.