Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love in Shimla - Part II

A tale of back-breaking bus journey, parathas and snow

A couple of months back I was cleaning my room (a very rare sight) and found a picture that made me nostalgic and I immediately called my friend. The two of us spent an hour reliving our Shimla/Manali moments and agreed that we couldn’t have asked for a better holiday. During the course of our call we remembered an insignificant incident and tadah! that’s how I got the title for my post. Err this was just to give you a background which I now feel is pointless.

Agra was our first destination and our stay was uneventful.
Lesson number 6: Do not buy miniature Taj Mahal you find on the streets of Agra. It’s extremely tacky and easily breakable.

After Agra, it was time for us to head to Manali. The moment I got off the bus, I was in love. In love with Manali. For those who haven’t visited this place, please do. It’s a b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l place. River Beas, clear blue sky, narrow trails, mountains, street food, and tall trees will leave you enthralled.

We reached Manali after a horrible bus journey. Couldn’t believe our luck or the lack of it when we were made to sit in the last row. And it didn’t help when my friend, who has a spine that’s bendable in all directions and needs constant support while travelling, sat next to me. I am sure all of us have one such friend. These earthly beings invariably find your shoulder to sleep the moment they get inside a car or a bus, eventually occupy a lot space and almost chuck you off your own seat.
Lesson number 7: Sit next to the driver; you can at least enjoy hindi film songs of 90’s. Anuradha Paudwal and Kumar Sanu singing “jaanam jaane jaa.. janam jaane jahaan..” or if you are lucky you get to listen to some of the rare ones too, which have mindboggling lyrics- “kaisa yeh ladka hai.. baatein hi karta hai.. liar hai liar hai”.

Few of us who were awake chatted for sometime and I then fell asleep, not because I was tired but it became extremely difficult for me to laugh while the earthly being slept on my then bony shoulder. Sometime in the morning at round 6 our bus stopped near an old dhabha in Haryana. Our tour operator had arranged caterers who began the job of preparing breakfast for us - bread/butter/jam. Only a loser would have eaten bread when there were hot parathas in sight. We gorged on 10 bucks aloo da paratha with a big dollop of home-made butter.
Lesson Number 8: Never share your paratha.

I don’t think I can ever forget the taste. That was the only time I genuinely liked potatoes (exceptions - yummy French fries served in Infinitea and chips bought from local Hot Chips). Finally after a very long journey we reached Manali. Cold wind greeted us and we Bangaloreans were thrilled to get our jackets, sweaters, shawls out. We generally feel happy when we see wool. I could not sleep that night; I lay awake thinking about snow. The next day we left to Rohtang Pass.
Trivia: You may notice, I used to and continue to have irregular sleep pattern. Insomnia is my middle name.

The organisers took advantage of our good nature (read: too lazy to protest) and made us permanently sit in the last row for the rest of the tour. The journey to Rohtang pass was scenic; Beas flowed peacefully and I sat next to the window. Sheer bliss. The blue-green river made my heart skip several beats... err no, in reality the sleepy bus driver kept going tad too close to the milestone. I couldn’t take my eyes off those lovely mountains and the milestone. We reached Rohtang pass.

Oh! we were ecstatic. It was feet-numbingly and teeth-chatteringly cold. But of course I just had one thing on my mind- snow. We were asked to climb the hill to reach THE place. And so we did. Did we get to see snow? Yes and no. All we saw was dirty brown patch of snow coated here and there. 200 angry college goers were all set to turn murderers. The tour operator’s promise of “snowww.. veryyy slippery also.. you will enjoy” was still ringing in our ears. Dejected we all got back, tried finding a knife in vain and sat in the bus feeling terribly hungry.

Later we hit the streets of Manali and ate mind blowing junk food.

Next post: Part III (the final one, I promise) *grin*