My name is Gabriella Sonabend, I am an artist and a writer and for the next few months I will be living as an artist in residence in the Kriti Contemporary Art Gallery in Varanasi. Varanasi also known as Banares and Kashi amongst many other names, is a city in the North East of India situated on the Ganges. It is one of the holiest sites of pilgrimage for Hindus who travel to Varanasi from all across India to bath in the Ganges and to cremate their loved ones. It is believed that if one dies in Varanasi they are able to escape samsara (the endless cycle of life) and to pass onto another higher world, a heaven. Varanasi is the city of Shiva where he is said to have chosen to settle after leaving the mountains to live with Parvati. It is a city laden with temples, saddhus, pilgrims, children, elderly people, cows, stray dogs, monkeys, funeral pyres and tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the incredible life there.

This blog will provide a day by day account of my experience in Kashi. It will explain my motivations for being there, my personal reflections and observations of life there. As an outsider I cannot promise that my interpretation of the events I see will be accurate nor can I promise that I will be able to give a rational, balanced view. I can however promise I will write with honesty and share with you my thoughts as they progress throughout my time there.