“I learnt by getting to know the forest as a being, feeling its breath in the stillness of days, filling my lungs and my whole being with the freshness it inspires.”
It was partly one of those periodic urges to run away from the world, and partly the wait for monsoons that found me flying on a Saturday morning to Guwahati. Mumbai had been sweltering hot during the previous couple of weeks and even though the lack of sleep the night before should have dragged me down, I found myself wide awake, looking at the crimson shadowy morning, eager to keep moving.
I couldn’t keep up with the running white strands of the clouds, and dozed off peacefully. I was woken up by a sudden turbulence in the bus. Everyone was rushing out and their gaze made it very clear that it would be the opportune moment for me to do the same. The bus that I took to be going to Shillong dropped me at Paltan Bazaar, a busy market in Guwahati. It was 9 in the morning. The clouds had conspired for a showdown while I was asleep. The sky was dark brown, the clouds steady as a rock, refusing to move an inch. Full with anticipation, I continued onwards to Shillong in a shared taxi. The family sharing the taxi with me was not very keen for a conversation, and I too had similar feelings. We continued forward in peace, while the new landscapes ran past me. The brown urban mud soon gave way to green fields, marked by the colors of cattle and reminiscence of spring.
The bus ride from Monachil to Granada was marked by the panoramic view of the hills of Sierra Nevada. The colorful corners cut across the street which twisted and moved like a serpent. The homes, like little crayon boxes, were stacked one above the other, on the hilly terrain. It was like the white city of Nerja, just a little more colorful, and slightly less spicy.
The bus ride from Monachil to Granada is marked by corners like these, repeated until the destination.
I was caught in a state of trance looking at the map, trying to memorize the path to Calle Elvira from the bus stop. I was glad and anxious to go around without the GPS. The next bus to Monachil would leave in 2 hours and that is all the time I had to go to Calle Elvira, procure what I came for, and make my way back to the stop. When we got down at Granada, everyone else started moving towards Alhambra, while I crossed the bridge and continued forward to the Plaza.
Magical Me. I started this blog almost 10 years back. What started as an experiment to get some Adsense revenue, quickly became my hobby. Blogging was cool back then, as it was not a mainstream thing. May be the most important factor that kept me going at that point of time.
Time passed by, as it always does. I had started enjoying writing by then. The interesting conversations with the friends in my sphere. It was a welcome getaway from the real world. And I found a new hobby.
Fast forward to today. I have been on and off here for quite some time. Writer’s block? No. Apathy? Maybe.
What has changed? Nothing. And everything.
A tender stroke of brush across the life’s canvas. A reservoir of beautiful memories. And a few unpleasant ones. I strongly believe that every single incident in one’s life, even the most insignificant, has a say in the way tomorrow will shape out to be. But I will save that story for later.
This July, we found a beautiful place to get lost – Ladakh.
Coordinating with friends for a few months. A Whatsapp group. 13 members. Few sneaked away. Few stayed.
And on a overcast Saturday afternoon, we all met at My Bar at Rajiv Chowk to kick start our journey. A journey we have been looking forward to for some time now.
There were six of us, to be precise, in a place which was flooding with rucksacks. There were so many travelers in My Bar at that time that one would believe it was a base point for everyone who was starting to Leh from New Delhi. We had our share of discussions and drinks and left for Manali at 5 in the evening.
I remember someone quoting this to me on a stormy morning during our Har Ki Dun trek – “Red sky at night, traveler’s delight; Red sky in morning, traveler take warning”. The sky that evening was crystal blue, with puffs of cloud someone painted across the canvas. We all had our doubts of weather during the journey as it is usually very unpredictable at this time of the year. But the awesome weather gave us the confidence. All is well that ends well. But a good start never harmed anyone, has it?
After around 5 hours of music, we reached Chandigarh, where we crashed at a friend’s for dinner. The cab that we booked from the online cab booking service Gozocabs was very reasonable and kept their promise of no hidden cost. The driver was a little cranky though, but we gave him the benefit of doubt. Anyone can be cranky if they would be driving for 30 hours straight without getting a proper sleep. Tobacco was what kept him running. We didn’t mind it though, he promised us a touchdown in Manali at 6 in the morning.
We managed to find an open petrol pump near Kullu
But what’s the fun if everyone go as per plan? It was around 4 in the morning. There was an argument going on the cab, regarding which song to be played. And suddenly the music went all loud. I don’t know if it was the volume, the lights or plain dumb luck. BOOM. Our back left tyre just burst. Everyone did their bit by inspecting the damage and helping in the getting the tyre changed. By helping, I mean getting the flashlights of our phones on while our driver set up the OT.
It was just before the dawn. The time when night is at its darkest. We were standing next to a dam in the town of Mandi, observing the silhouette of the distant peaks, when the news struck us that the spare tyre had negligible air in it. Great. Talk about plan B. We were stranded in a place where you can only see a truck once in a while, with no sign of any inhabitants whatsoever. Need to wait for the morning, we thought. But the driver still had his part to play. “Jump In. We would try to make it through with the flat one only.” We followed. Being engineers, we had to do our bit as well. We loaded an extra man on the right side, making it uncomfortable for everyone and we kept on going on for an hour or so, where we finally found a petrol pump which had the air machine working.
The damage control was done. It was already dawn. And we were in the heart of Himachal. Manali was just a few hours away. The toll of the night took over us and we gently passed into sleep. A beautiful sound woke us up. Beas river running forward with an ecstasy. The trees waving by as the clouds blocked the Sun. We entered the city of Manali, which was as beautiful as always. Google Maps came to rescue as we bunked in our hotel, had our lunch and decided to catch some sleep. It had started raining by then.
Where would you rather stay while traveling? A place bubbling with people with excited faces greeting you all around. Or a place away from all the hustle, where you can afford not to rush and savor all the components that makes up the place.
Well, in my case, my mood swing takes me to both these places. This March, my curiosity took me to this place near Darjeeling, which goes by the name “Tinchuley”. Visiting Himalayas has always been special for me. This was more so because it was my first visit to the mountains with my family. The first half of the trip had been great with the visit to Tsomgo Lake stealing the limelight. It was time to move from Gangtok to Tinchuley.
It had snowed the night before and the road ahead to Nathula Pass was blocked. But Tsomgo Lake was looking as splendid as it could. And with all the people and yaks around, ever so colorful