Daniel Zvereff is a freelance designer, illustrator and photographer. He travels to the far corners of the world documenting his journeys through images and journals. This is the second part of his Bandar Log series. Click here to read the first part of the series.
The sun has just risen as I step out onto a balcony overlooking Darjeeling. A deep mist has settled onto the city, and from a nearby monastery come strong deep voices, their prayers echoing out across the tea fields and traveling towards the peaks of the Himalayas. Banging in slow repetition, the sounds of drums twist and turn upward through narrow alleyways and curve along crumbling walls. I walk out and follow the sound of the beating drums, my heart battling the thin air with every exhausting step. The people here are different: their manners, reactions, and the general way they interact with one another and their environment is of such a gentle nature. Here, four hours up the mountain, life is sheltered from the typical bustle of the cities below, creating a unique culture. Here, I do not feel like I am in India.
En route to Varanasi, glued to the window of the speeding train, I am transfixed as I look out at the countryside. It is as if I am peering into a time capsule, looking at a lost old world. There is a simpleness and beauty in the small moments I see around the tiny huts of villages: men and women performing small religious ceremonies or tending to chores, children chasing each other around or jumping into ponds. These secluded parts of the world, where life is slower paced and so pure, are what I am always searching to discover, so I can interact with the people and separate myself from modern life. Yet, they, too, are marred by the leftovers of the modern world from which I try to escape. Though far from the cities, mountains of discarded plastic bottles and trash litter the route of the train. Even here, scattered and unattended, they are giant reminders of our wastefulness. The train stops in a city a few hours away and I hail a cab. The driver zooms off, and again, as is so common in this part of the world, I must face the prospect of death by auto accident. I have grown desensitized to it though; my thoughts drift elsewhere, and I begin to daydream.
Finally at the hotel, I put my things down and turn on the aging television, where I know will be a stream of mid-90s action films, which I can’t help but dive into, even though I should be resting for the next journey. I am in a state of prolonged exhaustion, but my restlessness and the constant stimulation around me keep me up through the nights and days.