Hardly anything good or great in life happens without a great deal of difficulties,anxiety and trepidation.My disappointment in the end of June about the failure to go climb a 7000er was followed by 10 days of frantic research,inquiries,phone calls ,email correspondence and some real hard convincing and arguing with parents.Finally,the powers that be relieved me of my worries.
And thats how i found myself at the ISBT stand at Kashmere Gate in Delhi around 6 p.m. of 8th July 2011.I took in the battered look of the semi-deluxe Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation(HPTC) Bus that I and Kullu(Kulbhushan) were to take to Manali for the overnight 15hour long journey.
Very surprisingly,seats were reclining(unlike the asiads) and wide enough to spend a comfortable night.We were lucky not to have to pack our big rucksacks on the roof of the bus as it would pour heavily the next morning.Kullu,true to his claim,slipped away into a deep sleep even before the bus got out of Delhi.I kept falling in and out of my slumber till about 3 a.m. at which point i gave in to the fatigue.
Welcome back to the mountains!
It was morning and I was engrossed looking outside the window pane of the bus.We were riding on a tarry black path along the mountains surrounded by a canopy of clouds.These white shapes had covered the heads and midriffs of the mountains while fog above the river bed in the valley gave it a mystique look.Color green was everywhere to be seen.It was all so refreshing that even the most snobbish person wouldn’t cringe on seeing the thin line of water dripping on me from over the window sill.It was raining heavily and soon I and Kullu took measures to keep ourselves and our luggage dry.But i was happy to be back in the Himalayas.Into the familiar ghats with ghastly bends around the corner,entrusting my safety to the skill of the driver and thoroughly enjoying my reunion with this part of India.It had been 3 years since my last stay in the Abode of Snow and 7 years since my last visit to Manali.Plus,it was my first time in the himalayas in the monsoons,something that i had always wanted to do.It felt good taking in the lovely scenery.
We spent one day in Manali wherein i took a random stroll along the road,checked out all markets(Tibetan,Dragon,Manu,Hongkong and Ibex Underground) to lay my hands on small interesting things,was shown to a wonderful Adventure Books’ shop by Kullu which brought glee to me,clicked peculiar sights,wondered at the Ganja(the notorious weed) plants pointed out by Kullu and which grew so much in abundance along the roadside,procured an ice axe,scarpa snowshoes and crampons(which unfortunately,i did not use in the whole trip) on rent and in general had a relaxed,lazy(read wonderful) time.Air was cool without being too cold.It was the warmest season here and one thin jacket over the Tshirt was enough.
Despite its mountainous charm,like most other popular Himalayan hill retreats,Manali is kinda unclean.While you appreciate the beauty around you,you can’t but notice the filth along the pavements,the garbage collected on the roadsides,the diseased dogs and the hapless beggars.While its possible to capture only the good part on the digital card and hide the rest,these things prevent you from giving a high rating to such places when it comes to recommendations.