Seek and ye…may not find.
Unfortunately, that was Ron’s great ordeal last night on leg seven. As Darren pointed out last time, Ron fits into the Connoisseur archetype on The Amazing Race, someone who is ever willing to seek and sample but is inherently distrustful of others. It can lead to tunnel vision and a fracturing of the team spirit needed to win. Was there not something poetic—almost Sisyphus-like—in Ron’s unending wandering through the perfumed streets of Varanasi looking for holy men?
But I get ahead of myself. First, an introduction is in order. My name is Christian Blauvelt, and I’ll be your tour guide/Jungle Cruise skipper this week through the heart of India. Your regular docent, Darren Franich, is on a quest of his own. A road trip to New Orleans, to be precise, with our fellow EW colleague Keith Staskiewicz. But while they’re sampling jambalaya and slow-shuffling to “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” let me take you back to Kolkata, city of 15 million people and our sixth pitstop.
First place finishers Gary and Mallory were treated to an Indian feast, courtesy of that authentic Indian tea-growing firm, Snapple. Hopefully they loaded up on samosas and gulab jamun, because the next day they were to fly to Varanasi, the famous, ancient holy city on the Ganges, which legend has it was founded 5,000 years ago by Lord Shiva himself. Shiva, you may recall, is the father of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god revered by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. He’s usually represented as a young, virile male to indicate his mastery over death, rebirth, and immortality. In fact, some Hindu traditions regard him as the “Supreme God.” To this day, the religious leader of Varanasi, the Kashi Naresh, is considered to be a living avatar of Shiva.
The cowboys were the second to leave Kolkata, though they, like many naïve travelers before them, felt like they could trust the airline ticket seller to tell them the earliest flight to Varanasi. Jet declared, “When I look into a man’s eyes as he’s telling me something, I believe him.” As Rama said to Sita, noble thoughts do not a race win. Team Cowboy ended up on a flight that would get in an hour behind the six other pairs.
Meanwhile, Zev found himself dealing with Kolkata-inflicted sensory overload: “India’s a little too much for me. There are too many crowds, and I don’t like it. I’m ready to leave.” Later he added, “This city Calcutta is cal-crowded.” Witticisms like that show they don’t call ‘em Team Zinger for nothing!
NEXT: The Amazing Race gives us the meaning of life.