It was the third day of our mission. Alex was busy with other local men building his raft. The excitement that this scene caused me was heightened by the thought that, in a few hours, we would meet Temsutula Imsong, a real Indian celebrity. In fact, she deserves the credit for having cleaned up the ghats of the Ganges in the Varanasi area in recent years.
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, but traffic and the lack of adequate sanitation have long been a cause for discomfort. Tourism is also becoming an increasingly big problem: nearly 1 billion and 300 million liters of organic waste are dumped into the Ganges every day. On top of this, although some of the ghats have been declared “plastic-free zones”, many shopkeepers, flower and snack vendors still use them to meet the demands of locals and tourists.
When Alex and I meet Imsong she tells us about the day she started picking up dirt with her own hands. “Some local people told me that I would not be able to fulfill my dream of cleaning the ghats because this city would never change, but I was sure I would. I wanted to set an example for everyone around us, that if we want and if we try, slowly everything starts to take its place. A year later the scenario had already changed a lot. Except for the Ghats where the bodies are cremated, all the ghats in Varanasi are clean, with garbage bins placed every 10-15 meters away. ”
Imsong couldn’t believe that Alex would sail on that raft, but she told me that Alex would make it because “… a believer never loses” and believers like us, who want to safeguard our mother nature with so much love and compassion, they always succeed in their intentions.