Varanasi: If god was a banker
Humans can go to any length to create a business out of thin air.
Tourists might end up outnumbering devotees in a place of pilgrimage over a period of time. And that is perhaps what had happened to Varanasi. No one is complaining though. Local competition tends to push prices down. Ancient buildings where no one would stay are converted into hostels. Educated unemployed youth become guides and use the experience as a springboard to going abroad, with some luck. People innovate and come up with all sorts of ideas to make money.
There is a parallel economy running in Varanasi. A demand-driven situation forces eateries to expand their menu beyond what you would expect to find in the religious town.
Lemon tea for the bhai.
But stay away from this guy. Or for that matter stay away from any person who roams about with a snake. If you came to Varanasi, you would hear boatmen warning tourists against talking to the sneaky snake babas. “There is a reason people don’t like them. If you are the kind who can play with a snake casually then you can easily fool a human,” a boatman says.
Also see Jaisalmer: If god was a banker