Everything I thought it might be, it seemed to be. But who knows... I did not go out much.
Except that one evening, for someone told me that the city's patron goddess is Annapoorna - the grain provider. The goddess of food. And prosperity. But no prosperity or happiness is possible without food, after all.
And I was here to investigate hunger, after all. It was only fitting that I look up the goddess that fills bellies, for someone told me that nobody sleeps hungry in Benaras. Its holiness was built, he said, upon the hunger of those who flocked here, knowing that here, the virtous, the freshly-rid-of-sins were anxious to give.
I wanted to look up this mother-goddess. Perhaps, because it is so hard to understand what has gone wrong - has she stopped providing, she who provides?
I went prepared for security stress. It has been just over a year since the blast at the Sankat Mochan temple and anyway, you get frisked and your bags get searched almost everywhere you go, these days. So, I took nothing but some money and my phone. However, after a half-hour rickshaw ride, a ten rupee bribe to a cop (paid by the rickshaw-puller, without my knowing), and a fifteen minute walk down the narrow Vishwanath lane and reaching the entrance, the police said - 'Phones not allowed'.
And suddenly, the desire to see her was gone. Annapoorna, I'm sure, would understand.