Early one morning while walking through the backstreets and twisted alleyways of the old part of the city of Varanasi, in search of some exotic sounds to bring home, I entered a small music store. A very long time ago, businessmen in Varanasi mastered the art of the deal. You are not just a customer here, you are an old friend, a welcome guest who deserves special attention and a seat of honor. I asked to sample some music and was immediately offered tea. A twelve year old Sikh boy was minding the shop while his older brother slept behind the counter. I sat there, listening to great artists like Zakir Hussain, Pandit Jasraj, Veena Sahasrabuddha, and Anuradha Padual, looking out through the opening back into the street from which I had come. As the young man practiced his excellent English and kept my cup full of chai, this ornate view across the alley became the next obvious shot. The doorway I am looking through (partially visible in the upper right) was constructed in a similar fashion. Over a million people live in Varanasi today although it was already a bustling city in the days of the Buddha. There were many people passing by and as I was already comfortable, I decided to take a single picture regardless of who or what might suddenly appear in the frame. Nobody did.
TURTLE HILL © 2000