India Update #9

Five years ago when I worked for Waterkeeper I met a renowned environmental lawyer in Vancouver, B.C by the name of Douglas Chapman. I stayed at his place for a week. Last year he passed on; I think he was in his mid 70’s but I am not sure. I will never forget what he told me during my stay.

Douglas had traveled the world as a younger man including Afghanistan. One night after sipping on some brews I asked him some questions about his travels.

First I asked “what was the best country you ever visited?” He said “India”. I then asked “what was the worse country you ever visited?” He said “India”. His answers intrigued me and so I knew I had to come see India for myself.

We have arrived in Varanasi. We’re also recovering from some river sickness minus Doug who has managed to stay healthy. But we knew that coming in. We had to be ready to take the good with the bad because that’s India; brilliant but dark, kind yet cruel, spiritual and forbidden. And of course… life vs death.

Nowhere else is the line between life and death so visible than here in Varanasi. Perhaps it’s Hinduism ability to accept death as a part of life? What ever the force both extremes are ever so present here. The beautiful cremations, the ancient Ghats, the vivid flowers, the bloated dead pig floating in the river.

The River Ganges is a contradiction onto herself. No river on Earth feeds more people than does Mother Ganga; her fertile soil feeds over 7% of the world’s population. Yet she is arguably more polluted by human waster, rubbish and dead animals than any other river. She is a river of extremes.

I now understand what Douglas Chapman was talking about.

One second your puking into your rubber boot after you just took your only antibiotics for a bad case of the runs that won’t go away. While only a few days before a young man in extreme poverty returns your lost camera expecting nothing in return. The worse with the best, the best with the worse and on and on it goes.

So if you have never been to India this will be my only attempt to explain what India is. A place, an experience, a million moments of extremes, in your face all at once.

See ya down the river,


Ps. If you ever come to Varanasi stay at the Jukaso Ganges. Its amazing and was the perfect place to return us to good health.

10 thoughts on “India Update #9
  1. Great Post, Brett!! Glad to hear you are feeling better. What an incredible experience you and the boys are having. Keep up the amazing work and keep posting! ~ kh

  2. Hi Brett and crew,
    I have the bank account set up for all your followers wishing to donate to the “Mohd Ahmad fund” if you can post it I would appreciate it.
    Royal Bank #00752-5007356 all donations can be done with on line banking. Visa transactions has to be done in your own bank where you may need the bank instatusion # 3 along with account #00752-5007356
    Thanks to all and a merry christmas to on the water and all of us off. Roy.

  3. Well written Brett and your description of India is amazing, makes me want to go there one day for sure! So happy to hear you and the others are feeling better and hope Doug will continue to be spared. The memories you and Team India are making will last a life time and I’m sure you are all making a lasting and positive impression on the wonderful people you are meeting. Continue to keep safe!!! We are all missing you!!!

  4. Big thank you to Roy and Jen for setting up the funds for anybody who would like to donate money (any amount would be greatly appreciated) for the young man who needs ortho surgery on his injured arm who found your cell phone and camera and returned it all safely to you without looking for anything in it for himself!

  5. Fantastic!

  6. You boys are having such an amazing experience! It brings it all back to me from the time we lived there 1977-79 and a vacation a few years ago. The country draws you back. Your pictures and comments explain and describe exactly as India is, well done!!
    All fascinating to read. Enjoy every moment, take good care, and I have to say, I can’t believe you actually swam in the Ganges. We stayed on a boat and saw some indescribable sights.

  7. Thanks for this Brett. You are an adventurer, an ally and a great friend. Your reference to Doug made my day!!!

    Safe travels.


    • Thanks Mark. And thanks for introducing me to Doug. Great man and he sure was right about India. And extra thanks for your hard work in Canada regarding our water.

  8. Great post Brett!

  9. Hi Brett, Wow- what an experience for you and the others!!! Great to hear that your equipment including your phone was returned. With all the bad and sad news one hears it is refreshing to hear a positive story and that there are honest and upstanding people out there. Your thoughts to raise some funds for Mohd Ahmad are great and I will be making a contribution. Take care and all the best for the remainder of your trip.


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