The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun
– Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
Sunday – 20 September 2009 – 6:00 PM – Delhi (inside bus to Manali)
Adventure18 is pretty much the kinda shop that someone biking from Manali to Leh needs to visit. Yesterday, I had landed in Delhi without many necessary items – like say a jacket or thermals or a rain-coat or even basic medicines. In fact, all I that I was carrying was my bike, tool-kit, one pajama, one running and one cycling shorts, three sport-tees, three undies, the Adidas shades, my bulky Canon with the bulkier 18-200mm lens and some toiletries. Yeah I know its kinda crazy and careless to wait for very the last day of a maverick bike trip in the Himalayas before buying some must-carry items, but then, that’s me! 🙂
The good thing is, as I am siting in this bus now, I guess I have all the things that I would need – except a torch may be. I even exchanged my bulky DSLR with Neelabh’s slightly less bulkier Nikon. Neelabh left few minutes ago after seeing me off. The cycle is stowed in the luggage compartment. While dumping the bike, I had to convince an uncle-ji that the bike wouldn’t rip apart all the other baggage lying in the luggage compartment over which I was trying to place my bike. To be true, I didn’t really know what effect would the bike have over all those bags – and I didn’t care a shit. There was no other space where I could put my bike anyway!
‘You cannot put your bike over all these bags! This could damage some of the luggage.’
‘Believe me, I have done this a thousand times, and not a single bag has ever been damaged’.
The conductor asked for some extra bucks which of course was of his personal asking and not any bus policy. I paid him 50 bucks anyway.
The guy next to me is someone who is single, works for Mahindra and is a marine engineer from Australia. Mr. Mahindra is a Kannadiga, is traveling with a big bunch of relatives all of whom have journeyed from Bangalore to Delhi in a train and who now occupy several seats in this bus. I can hear them phusphusaoing about my crazy trip in Kannadiga. I think that they think that I am some studd. I also think how it would have felt to have Caesar sitting next to me – but then the Kannadiga Caesar must be lazying off in his home in Bangalore right now. Been long since I met him!
I have only 50 bucks in my pocket. What shit! I just had dinner in an half an hour bus-break.Â Khatir Restaurant. 18 Km before Ambala. And when I was done settling my bills IÂ realized I was left with just 50 bucks. The first thing that I need to do once I reach Manali now is to withdraw enough cash from some ATM. I have no idea how much cash I will need to carry. After leaving Manali, until I reach Leh, I doubt there would be any means of procuring cash in the worse case that I run short of money. I think I should just take out loads of money. I will see tomorrow. I need to sleep – only if this driver lets me.
The driver has this tendency to keep settling in one of those I-will-pop-a-bhancho-once-in-every-five-words-that-I-speak states. Sitting on this second row from the front, being exposed to his meticulous recital of the timely bhenchos has started to make me feel like I am sitting inside a temple courtyard listening to radhe-shyaam radhe shyaam.
Hare Krishna, Hare Ram
Bhancho Bhancho, Hare Hare
Hare Ram, Hare Krishna
Bhancho Bhancho Hare Hare
Inside the Khatir restaurant, I observed that I was the only one sitting and eating alone. Rest of the passengers comprised either of just-couples or bigger families or at least groups of friends. But naah, I have my bike. In any case, I shouldn’t be talking about loneliness even before the lonely trip really begins. I might not have Caesar sitting next to me but I have Mr. Mahindra.
Mr. Mahindra was telling me some time back that he had been to Manali few years ago when he had just passed out of college. He also told me that he had para-glided then. Yesterday in Indore, even the grey hair (who works in Bollywood) was telling me that he had paraglided in Himachal. I am not sure if they offer para-gliding at this time of the year and even if they do, where exactly do they offer such things – but if I get a chance, I am sure going to try it out yaar. Sounds so much fun – flying in the air and all that! Let’s see!
Udja kale kawan bhencho tere moowich khandpaanwa
Le ja tu sandesha bhencho mera main sadke jaawaan
Baagon mein phir jhule padgay bhencho pak Gayean mithiyaan ambiyan
Yeh chhoti se zindagi de bhencho raataan lambiyaan
PS: here is a picture of mine standing somewhere near the bus-stop in Delhi