There and back again ....

There and back again ..... As the half burnt cigarette in my fingers is turning hopes and dreams into ashes, I am trying my way best not to turn cold to my feelings at this midnight epoch.

“You need a break.”

That’s what I told myself when I decided to go on a trip to Lahaul-Spiti. Okay let me just fast forward in 8x speed so I can reach up to the main part.

Enter the valley of Lahaul-Spiti and you won’t find any welcoming lush green alpine vegetation or a soothing road ride. No. It was a stimulating bungee jumping ride all along the way where my emotions were playing seesaw between ecstatic excitement and anxiety, bordering at times on panic and craziness. I am not kidding. At times on the hair-pin turns of the road when I could feel the adrenaline rush on my finger-tips and cheeks because of the depth I could see from the window, I thought to myself, this is it, time to die, it’s been a pleasure world; oh and please tell my parents I love them. Not that I showed, I was in any discomfort of course, this was an all-male establishment, any girly screech noises were strictly forbidden.
But somehow the caravan kept on going. As it always!

Staring at contours of a far more complex nature, while clicking mental pictures of endless layers of powdery maroon and glowing ochre slopes loomed in the distance, with the beautiful River Chandra drawing patterns in the lap of an ever-widening basin! The road and the mood was ON. With its steep jungle clad hill sides, gargantuan, sheer rock faces and a great company of six hobbits, the experience in all made me feel incredibly relaxed and glad to be far away from the hee-haw madness and chaos of the city.
It’s really a fascination for me to think how these roads were build. The workers must have one of the most difficult, dangerous and least desirable jobs in the world, especially at higher altitudes where the temperature drops to below freezing.  I hope they got paid well, although I suspect they did not. Life is unfortunately very cheap in India.

Past the few and far between milestones of Rohtang, Gramphu and Chhatru lies the wind-swept Batal. Our first night stay.

I imagine it’s the sort of place where Satan’s staff stay when travelling between hell and purgatory. My heart did drop a little when I first glimpsed our small, dark, smelly windowless room with no solid cover on top. The quilts were dirty like they haven’t been washed since their “invention”. The mattress on which we were supposed to sleep had sand particles sprinkled on it. In short, it just felt like I am back in my room in Gurgaon except the fuckin freezing cold part. But to my surprise none of the damsels uttered any anguish or the sad smiley towards the condition of that room.

It was a very uncomfortable night. None of us could sleep well. The time literally froze in that room with us. And I can’t remember the last time, when I so impatiently waited for the morning. Turning sides in every two seconds. Kicking the person who’s sharing quilt with me. Asking for water. Not getting any response. Searching for water bottle in dark with naked hands. Stumbling on a dog who had managed to crawl inside during night. Taking him back to my side. Sleeping with that dog.
Hell of a night. We all got to know each other a little more now. I learned a lot of things about my company and they learned that I snore like a bear.

The next morning finally came with the promise that the worst is behind us. This is as bad as it can get.

From Batal to Chandertal lake to Kaza (World’s highest retail outlet) to Key Monastery and to Kibber (World’s highest motorable village) …. the time flew by, our level of ecstasy and eyebrows increasing exponentially on each sight and on the last day it snowed. I couldn’t have asked for any better ending except if any girl would’ve fallen in love with me. Well that didn’t happen but all in all it was an awesome trip.

Among many great things about this country side, one particular thing that clicked me is the way these hilly people live. In quiet, peace and comfortably slow life. After 7pm you won’t find a single shop open. The lights are out by 830pm and the whole town is in deep slumber by 9pm. During daytime, in the streets you can always find two people chit chatting little things while by passing each other. I am pretty sure they all know each other. And that ever welcoming glowing smile on their faces (especially monks), it just makes you wonder if, we the city people with metro speed life, cars, grandeur malls and buildings have got it all wrong. 
I really wonder.…..