Thursday, May 27, 2004

Manali - The End

An untimely departure (for home) of one of our "soldiers" shrank the size of the group. Late night revitalization (??) kept us glued to the bed till 10 in the morning. We thought of walking down (and up) to Old Manali but didn't have much time to accomodate it in the schedule for the day. Besides, the unfortunate soldier wanted to browse the local market before being on conveyance.

We strolled down narrow lanes occupied by small shops on either side. This local market was supposedly the oldest in Manali and a place of business for the Tibetan community residing in and around for long decades. Handicrafts and custom apparels were the commodities of interest, with a somewhat intrusion of the business riches from the neighboring cities of Delhi and Chandigarh. A straight lane at the entry took us to a small shop overbearing an exquisite collection of brass idols, silver jwellery, and traditional decorative items. A few picks from one or two shops started falling heavy on my purse, and as soon as my friend was satisfied with his shopping spree, we gulped some food and went back to our hotel.

Later in the afternoon, the remaining six of us sat near the Beas river for some "bird watching" (the water was intimidating), explored a part of the Great Himalayan National Forest (just a place full of Deodars), and then headed on for the Mall. The weather turned gloomy and soon started pouring itself. I decided to crunch my hunger for the night in a local food stall. The stall owner happened to be a recent taker of the place, explaining enthusiatically the culinary arcanum of Tibetan dishes, a tip here and there to differentiate the mind of an Indian and that of a foreign traveller, a revelation of his mythical knowledge, remorsing the hardships in his occupation brought in by the snowfall; all in all, an interesting conversation. It was our last night in Manali.

Old Manali was a kinky place, a perfect abode for the nomadic hipsters. The place was full of them. We cranked our way through the uphill, back and forth, walking past contrasting pictures of ceremonious swank and thoughtless tranquility. A local shop owner revealed to me how the place is different for different people; you get an unwanted discount in the prices if you speak Hindi. No wonder you are deceived, but lesser if you don't bear a white skin. Manu temple was 1.5 kms walk (the official guide books said that) through such terrain, and was our destination in Old Manali.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Plans got a bit messed up and we had to stay in Shimla for another day. Indecisiveness led from one point to the other and finally we had to take a paid tour for the rest of the trip. I am not too sure if it was a good move, but given the situation we were in, nothing else seemed more viable than that. The only worry was the 8 hour long drive we would have to take from Shimla to Manali.

Things did not turn out to be as bad as I thought it would. With occasional breaks in between, the whole journey was fun. It did get a bit irritating when we started moving downhill and got surrounded by the warm summer wind for a couple of hours. Though that wasn't for long. Soon enough we were again gaining altitude and the weather started being soothing once again. The journey ended at a small guest house in The Mall at Manali, at around 9 at night.

Everyone was pretty happy with the rooms that were booked for us by the agent. They were much better than the rooms we had to dwell in at Shimla. All seven of us were too tired to really move around at that time, and soon tugged in. The next day was supposed to be a pretty hectic day too - a visit to Rohtang Pass and some local sight-seeing. Besides, our driver asked us to wake up at 4 in the morning, although all of us knew that was impossible.

We started at around 8 in the morning. Rohtang pass is about 2-3 hours drive from The Mall, with breaks in between. The driver stopped by a local renting store where we were supposed to get fur clothes to tackle the chilling cold waiting for us at an altitude of more than 14000 ft (??). Previous experience prompted me not to get them because its not all that compelling. Moreover, they are heavy and difficult to carry along. Few of my friends took it for themselves; came handy for some photography.

I have been to Rohtang two years back but had to satisfy myself much down below at a snow point. The roads were not safe enough for travel at that time of the year. However this time, we went all the way to the top. Rohtang happened to be a wide open area - o yeah!! I mean it. Better off, atleast we could find a private place to pee, but what about those babes who had to live with an embarassing defeat to nature's call. Unfortunately, the camera was not online to capture the glory.

It did feel chilly for the first couple of minutes but very soon the sun engulfed the whole region and made everything comfortable for us. The crispy white snow had already been discolored with patches of dust and deluged with refuse by human boarders. No one bothered to make use of the garbage bags handed over at the entry, and instead dumped everything over the snow.

I decided to sit atop an "uncovered" rock and watch the people - tube rides on snow slants, photography on romantic snow backdrops, skiing on flat surfaces, rides on an ice bike... There were these kids selling "kesar" and "kasturi", and pretty soon it turned out that there were too many of them. I even started feeling allergic to the very mention of these precious items. The only fun was zooming in and out with the camcorder - the crazy person learning to ski his best, the newly wed couples posing hard to make a realistic skiing appearance on the shot, the teenage girls making the best use of the snow balls, and above all, nice butts to relish!! We left within an hour or so, for there was much more planned for us for the rest of the day.

On our way back from Rohtang, we stopped by a restaurant run by a bengali guy, but for some unknown reasons he didn't like revealing himself as a Bengali. Many a times, we tried conversing with him in Bengali, but he always prefered using Hindi. Perhaps an Indian first, Bengali next!! By this time, we realized that we have been running around a lot and haven't been attending well to the objective of the whole trip - fun. Few of us floated the idea that the remaining part of the trip (Dhramshala and beyond) should be cancelled and the camp be better settled at Manali. Solang valley too was called off for it was more important that we reach the Mall by evening and get to see more of the crowd that gathers around (!!)

Chopsticks and MOC Cafe are the two places I feel like mentioning. Chopsticks, well please do not mind, I wanted to visit to refresh memories; need not mention, the ambience is too good to miss, and the Tibetan delicacies are worth a try. MOC Cafe was a fortunate hit. The restaurant was run by a young guy (sorry, didn't really have the decency to ask his name; forgot rather), seemed to be often visited by his friends from the paragliding club. Out of the blue came their offer for a joint cannabis intake. Who on earth would miss a chance like that? I did, but my friends didn't!! The food took too long to arrive and all I could concentrate on were the smoky architectures in the air. After three hours of hardbound gossip and food, we took the way back to our hotel.

The tour agent agreed on not dropping us at Dharamshala but instead giving us a tour of Manikaran - around 85 kms from Manali. It was a somewhat bumpy ride to the place, with the driver cautioning us about the prevailing unsafe atmosphere. Ariwind-ji, our driver, was one hell of a person too. God knows what devilish ether ran through his veins; our BC/MCs stood no chance against him. He was married and had two kids, but from what he divulged, one would just want to believe that he's still a bachelor. God bless his wife and kids!! On our way, we stopped by a local weaving factory-cum-outlet at Kullu. It was rejuvenating to see young ladies dealing the sale from the other side of the counter...yeah I liked that girl on the black salwar too!!

Manikaran was a shabby place. It was a place of some mythological importance, as well as, the natural hot water springs effusing out of the rocks. The wooden houses surrounding this rocky place looked incapable of holding on for long. We weren't much of a religious party, so there wasn't much to our liking that we could gather from Manikaran. After a meal at a nearby restaurant, we were willing to come back, only to find a big jam put up by the bi-directional traffic. Now who were those "firangi beauties"!!!! They were three of them doping well in tune with their two male counterparts. Hippies are what they are called, and eyes just refused to get away from the shiny white exposed skin. "1 second 100 rupees for fucking me" - if I remember correctly, those were the first few words that flowed into our ears from the other side. She said staring was rude, we thought a view worth popping our eyes onto won't be missed!! The traffic opened up within a couple of minutes of this encouter. Somewhere in between, a huge herd of sheep returning from the graze slowed down the traffic.

The paid tour package ended along with Manikaran. We were free to travel as we like in the remaining two days.

Monday, May 17, 2004


Surprisingly, we didn't feel so tired after a 24 hour train journey, a 4 hour venture in a small bus (the warm wind was too prepared to roast us), and then a comfortable 3 hour ride in a Sumo. It was such a relief escaping from the hot, sucking weather of Delhi. The weather shift went a bit rough on some of the guys. The place is picturesque, but I can't find anything special to mention about it. Besides, we need to move out on a local sight-seeing tour in a couple of minutes, and then to Manali at night. Probably, the schedule will ease out a bit once we reach Manali.

Friday, May 14, 2004


I am leaving for a trip up north to catch some cool breeze on the hill tops. Travelling is fun with friends, although the summer heat is just waiting to squeeze out that extra drop of adrenaline helping you bear it. Kgp has never felt this hot before; probably I was never here like this, running my hell out, trying to get things done at the nick of time. I have turned into a "eleventh hour" person lately, irresponsible at times. But when the work finally gets done, after pushing my patience to its brink, I don't regret my carelessness. May be, I am no longer an organized person.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Seventy Two Hours

Kolkata has lived for a relatively long time now. Its slowly turning into a hot, humid and smoke-ridden city. Modernisation being the keyword for us today, high rise buildings are finally giving a tough competition to old heights, which sometime in the past had been Kolkata's pride (remains still??). I don't have much of an attachment to historical mansions or its preservation. This is rather about one of my short stays in the city.

Social ties sometimes appear from nowhere. It shall remain an unanswerable question for me whether time should really be a measure of conversance. Kolkata this time was different. Not only because its was like being in "no man's land" when no one knows where you belong, or because I found myself in conflict with my early notions of the city, but because this time I took a glimpse of it through(with) a bunch of people who reside in it.

A friend was too eager to accomodate us in his family. Concerns came uninvited. Its like trying to fit yourself into an already solved puzzle. Every family has a protocol, a way of communing, an already laid foundation of understanding, and a retricted window into it for outsiders. Its expected from every guest that the protocol won't be violated. From an outsider's view point, the requirement falls a bit heavy. And many a times, we just turn out to be blank cards in a deck - increasing the number, but useless.

However, the world is not so uncooperative at all times. I spent my last seventy two hours with a family that, no wonder, follows its code of conduct, but in no way imposes an unstrecthable window on you. There was neither any superficiality in their demeanor, nor any unintentional display of regret; a welcome smile speaks for itself. I feel that's the easiest way to charm when you are the host. If eveything around you is natural then its too easy to dive into the flow. You don't have to bother what the real picture is like and easily mould into a person of comfort.

Seventy two hours is not a so long period of time, but with the right people around, its long enough for you to see the ups and downs of Kolkata, the foible nature of a household, or to understand how some things are easier than they are believed to be.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Broken Web

He missed it again. He seems intrigued by the "try and try until you succeed" notion. I won't appreciate him for wasting all these years for something he has been repeatedly unable to secure. On second thoughts, when I think over the determination that has kept him clinging to such kind of a mental exertion for so long, it appears he's not ready to compromise for anything but the best. I am afraid he won't get another chance and worse the lot, it will make him question his self-potential. It is very difficult to make him understand that oppurtunities stand at different places for different people. Perhaps this is not the one for him. He is like the spider whose web gets endlessly wiped off existence by the housemaid's broomstick, but nevertheless, it never ceases to build another.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

So you think...

...I am in love. Forget it. Too hard a game for me to play. Is it really possible to stick to one single person the whole of your life? What about newer experiences that question your old beliefs? What about convincing yourself that there is no other factor of affinity? What about the aloofnees, the disagreement, the misapprehension, the retraction, time immemorial, incoherency, and what not?? Is something really worth effort amidst all such nonconformity? Not even if everything is in my hands. Too inhospitable I would say.

Beginning of an End

Time to wrap things up in here. Strange enough, I came to this place hoping things would get started between me and Ish; surprisingly it did. I shall probably be leaving with the same expectations, although I know surprises do not come often. Its perhaps more than a fact that you do not remain important to others the same way forever. Priorities and mind set change now and then, sometimes sooner than you want it too. For a person like me, exploration doesn't seem to be a viable alternative. Its just too much for me to keep repeating this "getting settled with new friends" business. I think this last day is getting on to me. Let me manage some sleep!

Split Personality

Desirous. I often get things wrong, only to realize the mistake sooner or later. I get things right, only to realize the fault. To see both sides of a tossing coin, unbiased if I should be precise, I think I need a better manifestation of myself. Why not dissever myself to conflicting natures so that I am always able to criticize what I might be appreciating from some other perspective? Will it not help me be a noetic, offshore, and open minded person? Easier said than done. No harm playing the dice though, after all I am the only player.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Grand Farewell Dinner

So that's what they call a Grand Farewell Dinner. Easy come, easy go. No address, no sign-off; come over, eat up and go away. If grandeur is only about size then it was really a massive put up (felt like a giant Hall Mess), otherwise those people just knew that I was empty-bellied. Com'n, I do have the guts to shell a few bucks and arrange myself a meal! To top it all, sweat glands were on a high, too irritating a distraction when I was trying to concentrate and admire the "hot food" (I found Capsicum in every dish), which otherwise, my taste buds were straightly rejecting. "Excuse me, you mean you want to say it was the gesture that matters." Well fine. Walk in through my door, I shall show you the way out - that's what the gesture was all about. Aaaah!!! leave it, lets not dishonour food.

Shattered Expectations

Just a few words on irony. How many times have you expected things to happen in a certain way, only to find later that your special moment was just a pass through breeze from time, blown straight at your face? With me it has recurred without count.

An expectation is too dangerous an impulse to follow; addictive enough to push you to the heights of irrationality, and sometimes so massive that clear perception is blocked. It should be called "incoherent thinking" . The rewards, even if phenomenally low, subjects you to a constant search for reproducible oppurtunities - call it the dogma of connexion - every time pushing you towards an ironical situation. The irony is in your repeatation when you learned not to. You start over with another day, another expectation, and in most cases, end up with another blow. Remember, and if its tough, then remember to remember, expectations are like a begger's eyes requesting acceptability without checking compatibility - depending on chance rather than attempting control. Try avoiding them so that you see the bumps on the road ahead.

My Love In Her Attire

My love in her attire doth show her wit,
It doth so well become her:
For every season she hath dressings, fit,
For winter, spring, and summer.
No beauty she doth miss,
When all her robes are on:
But Beauty's self she is,
When all her robes are gone.

With the summer heat creeping in once again, what better can a caring Romeo wish for his Juliet. Its not vulgarity or indecency that's critically appreciated here, but a mere technical solution to the ever worrying problem of "comfort and fit" that every woman unknowingly likes carrying along. However, the bottom line is - "beauty in the purest form is always worth uncountable admirations."

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Lunar Ecllipse

A night of another ecllipse is over. God was at his aesthetic best and immensity was shruken down to the levels of dust; its quite difficult to believe sometimes that such a galactic object could be shadowed into darkness in such a short span of time.

I was wondering if "existence" is really a meaningful term. There are certain things around my life without which it loses comprehensibility; certain minor assests I don't even consider are important for me. But when they diverge out, the commotion is easily felt. If I don't know what defines me, how shall I perceive a coming ecllipse.

The Speaking Mind

I thought its time to give a mean to express my mind. What better a way could it be other than language. Lets see what comes by.