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Yesterday was my 60th birthday.

I spent it in Varanasi with my ladybird.

Initially, it felt strange to be away from family and friends.

Yet WhatsApp is a gift of connection.

Over here, it is the primary way to stay in touch.

No algorithm to fight.

I watched the sun rise over the Ganga.

India’s most sacred river.

The city’s colours changed as the ball of fire slowly ascended.

Of all the countries I have travelled through.

India is as unique as it gets.

I had avoided Varanasi for 40 years.

It never felt right to visit.

I travel primarily on felt sense.

Serendipity is the way I travel best.

Randomness and walking into the unknown are deliciously exhilarating.

It has never failed me.

The more I trust this emergent process.

The more joy, wonder and extraordinary people I encounter.

In the West, we live back to front and upside down.

I’m still attempting to vocalise the process.

It’s hard.

The sacred can often be ineffable.

Like a taste, you cannot quite place.

A word on the tip of your tongue.

Yet here I am in a river boat bobbing down the Ganga towards the burning ghats.

The place where loved ones are cremated and blessed as they are sent on their way.

I had a quiet plan for being here.

My parents both died last year.

Their funerals were how they wanted them to be.

How they lived their lives.

Traditionally formal.

They wanted that.

I needed to say farewell my way.

I planned this city visit to give them a send-off from a country where life and death are visible.

The West is afraid of death.

It keeps it low-key and out of sight.

Not here.

Varanasi is the city of the afterlife.

It is an appropriate place to say a final farewell to my dear parents.

As we passed by Harishchandra Ghat.

My sweetheart and I light floating candles surrounded by flowers.

I place them as delicately as I can into the sacred river and say my final farewell.

Watching the flickering flames gently float downstream and out of sight.

The end of an era.

The beginning of the next phase in my life.