08.08.2010 - 08.08.2010
As the bus pulls out of the depot, i put some music on a allow myself to relax. It has been quite a hectic few days and time to think and just be has not been availible. I reflect on my reasons for travel and muse over the possible outcomes of my journey and how that will affect my life when i return. It will be a long bus ride and so i ahve to time to ponder. We hit rush hour traffic and as yet the AC is not on so all the windows are open which brings in more heat and dust. As we start to leave the city there is a massive traffic jam, eventually i spot a row of shops and in amongst them a army surplus store, it just reminds me of home. There are many police around and when i look properly a large crowd has gathered, there seems to be something going on and with the munber of people there is wonder igf there has been some sort of riot. As we get to the front of the traffic queue oi lean out of the window (yes terrible british habit gawping!) and really wish i had not for there on the road is an inordinate amount of blood. From first look it is as though someone has slaughtered an animal right there in the road. THe man next to me sees my shock and just says there must have been an accident. I have over the last few days seen the ambulances over here, they are far from modern, amnd even with the siren at full pelt make little progress throught the crowded streets and i would think probably quite ineffectual at thier job. I feel bad for the occupant and his family.
The bus continues to leave the city and the air becomes cleat and breatheable. Eventally we are told to close the windows as the conductor will be puttin on the AC. BAffles me really - intense city heat and dust - open windows, nice cool mountain air - close windows....nuff said! As we continue out of Dehra Dun the road become steeper and narrower. The sun fades and darkness begins to fall, as does the road side. A few hours after we leave we stop for a break. There is a 'roadside cafe', i amd a few other investigate the loo and discover my first hole in the ground since my arrival. Sadly there is nowhere on the back of the door to hang my bay (not that i would want to anyway) and so i end up balancing with my bag at the front desperately trying to hold my clothes up, my loo roll in my hand etc....its no mean feat (sometime being a woman is really too much when you are tired!) but mission accomplished an without tragedy i escape into the night reasoblay clean.
I meet my new friend Tenzen who is drinking a cool lemonade, he offers me one but i will stick to the drink i am sipping, (small amount in small amount out i figure!) his friend is with him now and he intruduces himslef as Tashi. Taschi is in the army and is heading home to D sala to see his cousin. We talk a little about the journey and i ask is the 2 men operating the bus swap over so one can rest, however i am assured the the driver will do the full 14hours by himself and that is normal and he does this very often and is good driver!! My mind at ease (!!!!!!) we reboard the bus and head off, however not 5mins later we stop. This seems a long stop and the driver eventually turns off the engine, i look out of the window and we appear top be outside a tyre selling shop, i can see a lead and it looks as though they are checking the pressure of the tyres. HOw insightful i think as must be heading up some steep hills soon. SLowly one by one the Indian men sytematically leave the bus and it would appear there is a problem, surprise surprise! There is a little movement of the bus and there appear to be many parts of the back end on the floor now. They may be changina tyre, it is fortunate i think that awe are outside this shop and i am just imagingin what trouble it would be to be further along the road when there is power cut and the shop is in darkness! Depite the pitch black conditions the men carry on and some time later they all reboard the bus. Imagine a bus breaking in England, everyone would get off and just start yelling until it is either fixed or, another bus is called out. However over here every man gets off and it is all hands to the deck irrelevant of the heat and the fact many are in shirts and trousers until the problem is sorted and they all get back on. A problem is everyones problem and they all work together to fix it. We continue as eventually i doze off. The man who sits beside me relaibly informs me it was a puncture.
I awake to another stop, another interesting loo break and when i treturn to the bus it appears as though both rear wheels have now been removed, I guess we will be here for a while (my 14 hour journey looking longer and longer). I chat to Taschi who is astounded that i dont know where i am going and insists he will find me somewhere to stay, i say i am ok i think but grateful for his help. He tells me about waterfalls and swimming in Mcleoad Ganj. Eventually i reboard a try to sleep while we are stationary, nad i must manage a little for next i know the bus is being started and we are on our way. NOw, i dont knwo where we are in geographical terms however a while ago someome may have taken the road (well the tarmac equivalent) and replaced it with the surcface we are currently using. To say it is not level is an understatement. The bus pitches from left to right so much i am reminded of a boat in a force 9. (dad you would have got off long ago!) It is impossbile to sleep as the bus literally throws you from one side of the seat to the other and the man who was sat next me got off a while ago (the kind bus driver seeing myslef and one other female on her onw puts the new occupants to the rear of the bus) and so i have 2 seats to myself and far to travel. With the absence of a seatbelt there is nothing to secure you in place and i ahve resorted to wedgin myslef in, which works quite well but when the bus pitches me far the shear force of muscle contraction to stay withing the boundary of the seat is enough to keep me awake. I toy with opening the curtains as i am not able to sleep but i know the kind of road we are on, i have been on many similar ona skiing holiday. Only with the pitching and rolling i am certain this is steeper or narrower or whatever and quite honestly i dont want to look for fear of scaring myself. I put my faith in the driver and a few hours later the road is calmer i must have dropped off as next thing we are here, Dharamsala.
ON exit from the bus the rickshaw driver informs me to take riskshaw as bs to Mcleod now for few hours, as usual this is rubbish and Tenzen takes me over to the bus stand where i discover the bus is in 30mins. I wait and are joined by two ladies from Korea, i watch thier bags while they get drinks (i am still on sips), and we discover we are heading the same way. They ahve come off of the same bus and we discuss the journey. Eventually a few more backpackers (2 separate groups) turn up however before i ahve chance to initaiate a conversation they realise they are all french and get on with conversation of thier own. Next thing they ahve all gone and i realisethe bus we need must be here so i tell the 2 Korean ladies and help them on with thier luggage. Once on the bus i chat to Sunsita, she tells me she has been here many times before and is a Buddhist. She has a good place to stay and will be checking it out when she arrives, i ask if i can tag along (anything for a bargion hotel!). We arrive and i help them with the bags which they leave in the street asking a local to watch them while we go to look for the place. As mine is on my back and i ahve got this far without having lost it i keep hold of it, however after trekking through steep hills i being to wish ihad not. Sunsita is not sure of the whereabouts of the place as it was found by her english freind as the directions are not great, we walk up and down after a while her feind Sunsa has broken her sandal so we wait at the top while Sunsita goes off. We find a place to sit and Sunsa tells me about her travelsshe has been to so many places i could only dream of going. Eventually we hear shouting as Sunsita is back. SHe has found the place so we go to look, the bathroom is not in the room but outside however it is clean and the price is good 100rs per night (roughly 1.20p). The place is a good 5-10 min walk form main area, and is in the ammore rural part, the room over looks a corn feild and you can see across the valley to where the 'massess' are staying. I look and its very basic but will do for now.
I dump my things and attaching my valuable sot my money belt i head back up with the girls to help wuith thier bags from the top.ON the way i meet a dog who puts her nose in my hand probably after the busciuts in my bag i think, she follws a while then trails off. At the top the bags are still there and there is a porter who wishes to help. Sunsa enlists his help and we go down, after much deliberation on which path - we will do this several time befoew we remember where we are! we find it and i help Sunita with her stuff upstairs while Sunsa sorts out hers with the porter. We are chatting to the lady in the room next door when there is mush banging, i look dow and Sunsa door is shut Sunsita goes down while i chat to our new neighbour. She is here painting and has an exhibition in few days time hoping to sell, the paintins are really good and each one has a story. She tells me a littel about herself and she is from New York. I tell here i am hoping to learn some meditaion and Buddhism and perhaps a little yoga can she suggest anwhere? She informs me many course are not for begginer and that she used to teach a little and if i like she will help get me started. She tells me her name is Carol, i say like my Aunty i think this is good sign.
After my shower the dogf comes to my room, i ignore her and head up to see Carol. Carol teaches me some stillness teachniques as i am very bad at jsut learnignto become quiet. When i close my eys many thoughts enter my head and i struggle to get past them . She gives me some homework, and tells me to got the library to get a book which will help. Tomnorrow morning she has said she will get me started on some yoga! I climb up to the library it is very steep and i struggle to bt\reathe as i am as yet unused to the height i am at. I arrive only to find it is SUnday and therefore shut, still the exercise has been ggod and the view is great. I will return tomorrow.
ON the way back i go a the cafe to order lunhc i have not eaten properly c\since friday night, so i am starving. I decide on tofu and cheese momo ( a momo is kind of liek a mine pasty thign a tibetan speciality i tried ion delhi but was not sure) and some egg/veg fried rice, also a mix juice with carrot manog orange. The order arrives and its enought o feed 2/3 people! I must remember for next time i only need one thing! i Do my best but its too much the kind lady allows me to tek the rest home and puts it ina bag, with no cutlery as yet i am still unsure how this will pan out, perhaps just open mouth and pour it in?????? I decide to head home as i am overcome with tiredness and a little altitude sickness.
I arrive back and go to the loo, on returngin to my room there are scrateches at the door and and crying, i look out and the same dog is practically pulling the door down, i ahve not encouraged this one at all!! I open the window to say hello and she puts her head in my hand. I return to the bed but she makes so much niose that eventually i opne the door and let her in. Once inside she takes to the rug and with i big sigh curls up. Great i think now i must sleep with the door on adjar as i doint want to shut her in. I put my shoe against it she can get out fi she wants, but as i lie down on the bed she relaxes and goes to sleep - what is it with these dogs, am i turnign into d\some kind of dog protection??? Have i missed something here>?
After a hours sleep i feel much better and head back to the cafe for a coffe (yes its proper coffee here) as they ahve an internet cafe and i need to let you know i have arrived safely. Its rainign so i try out mums mak, Not for the fashion concious i head up. The coffe is nice and this is the same place as earlier, the girls who work here are tibetan so i can practise my thanskyou. The coffe shop is full of travellers form every corner of the globe, is like some kind of mecca. Some look up and smile, for the most people leave me alone, i think they snese you aretravelling alone for a reason and leave you to it. This time i avhe abook which iread as i sit down., Most people are lovelly here, even the locals will speak to me and are nice to rahter than just staring, the only people i ahve had a bad vibe froma re the hardcore backpackers ./ travellers. You knwo the one they have been at it for years, most have on the usual hippy clothing, pierced nose, big jewelery, dreads. The eye me with distain as i fumble my way through my order and my tibtean attempts, as if they know i am a newbie - and oh my god they are just sooooo cool - whatever peeps, i am havcing the time of my life!!!!!!