It is impossible to know where you're going as streets aren't marked and one has to move quickly in order to dodge death in the form of fast moving motorbikes, cyclists and on the wider streets cars too. We were thankful then that there were a couple of local boys on hand at our BnB to act as local sat nav. I got on well with one called Sonu, so we asked him to accompany us virtually every time we stepped foot outside the sanctity of our room (comfort would be overstating it somewhat).
The BnB itself was right on the River Ganges on one of the ghats. The view from the terrace therefore would have been pretty spectacular had it not been obliterated by the permanent haze that we'd come to expect in India, so bad was it that we could only just about make out the shape of the bank on the opposite side.
A dawn boat ride, one of the activities that comes highly recommended to any Varanasi visitor, is a 1.5 hour round trip in a rowing boat to pass by the 2 body burning ghats, where the Hindus conduct their funerals, via several other holy ghats along the way, many of which were commissioned by the Maharajah of here or there and some of which were fairly beautiful buildings (or would have been perhaps had they not been situated next to a lurid pink tower with a crass modern mural of Vishnu, or a brand new poor imitation of a holy temple).
On our boat ride, we encountered the inevitable and infuriating peddlers of 'symbolic' tea lights with petals, which we were instructed (despite saying no thank you from the outset) to light and place in the river in memory of someone. We were also expected to pay 10 rs. for the pleasure.
Our boat driver's English was not good, but he had just about enough capability to inform us that the only bodies that don't get burned on the river are those of babies, beggars, holy men, pox sufferers or those that have suffered a snake bite. Instead, these bodies are (supposed to be) weighted and rowed out to the middle before being dropped overboard. What probably happens in reality is that they just get dumped, minus the weights. In fact, Dad said that he saw some human remains floating by on one of his walks.
On a lighter note, Ben was desperate to do some washing so he deposited numerous items with the housekeeping staff at the hotel the evening that we arrived. When we took our morning boat ride, we were horrified and then highly amused to note that many individuals were doing large loads of laundry in the Ganges, including bed sheets and Western clothes, before hanging them out to dry on the ghats. That night we slept on ever so slightly damp sheets.