We said goodbye to Arjun and his family and thanked them sincerely for their hospitality over the last week or so. Then Santrum drove us out to the bus station, and from there on out, it was just the three of us. Since landing in India, we’ve always had a Hindi speaker with us to help us translate and navigate, but we’re on our own now. It was a crazy feeling. We had a little bit of time to kill, so we ventured a short ways away to grab some snacks. We got cookies and chocolates and fruit and water. Good to go!
The 12-hour bus ride definitely sucked. Ryker and Rush sat next to each other in front of me. I sat next to a quiet Asian lady. Part way through our red-eye bus ride I realized I was sitting next to a quiet Asian man. Blew my whole universe. The seats on the bus were reasonably comfy but I had a very difficult time falling asleep. Estimated time slept: 1.5 hours. They played a super long Indian film (musical) which was decently entertaining and had tons of big Indian songs. Not like Punjabi MC or anything but classics. Our equivalent would be ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Summer of ’69’ kinda songs. I guess. Anyways, the movie must’ve been close to 4 hours long, and definitely helped to pass the time.
Four-Hour Bus Movie
My favourite scene was when the main guy and main girl were at a carnival that got Molotov cocktail’d so everything was on fire. They escaped the terrorist people and were finally free to escape when the guy hears a horse that’s trapped. So he goes over to it and kicks down a burning fence and saves the horse. Then they start leaving again, but oh no! They hear a baby crying in the distance. Of course he’s gotta save it, and of course, there isn’t a single soul around anymore. Well, this little tyke just so happened to be abandoned in a frigging Ferris Wheel! So the guy (Harry) starts climbing. I’d like to point out that earlier in the movie he was in a silly jet plane crash and busted his arm so he can barely even move his hand let alone the rest of his arm. So he starts climbing. Who knows how long the baby’s been there but just as Harry gets close, the damn baby decides it should jump out and plummet to its certain death. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Harry reaches out his broken arm and, in slo-mo, catches the suicidal baby while the chick and even the horse watch in awe and horror. Then they all get on the horse and peace out. Boom, instant family.
Dharamsala was not at all what I expected. It was extremely dirty and appeared very poverty stricken. For a Himalayan spiritual town where the Dalai Lama hangs out, I had a different image. Beautiful landscape though.
We left the next day for Bhagsunag. This place is dope. Officially in the Himalayas. From our B&B (Jagatram Niwas) you could probably throw a golf ball into the village. But to retrieve said golf ball would take about thirty or forty minutes. That’s how mountainous it is here. We basically did the Grouse Grind every day to get back home. And our leg muscles wouldn’t heal because we were forced to do it every day. And it’s seriously cold at night! We’ve been rocking double heaters, and the boys cuddle up close while I read them Earnest Hemmingway (I’m not joking). We spend a lot of time at Kaku’s Internet Café and Nick’s Italian Kitchen. Nick’s has great food. Speaking of which, we’ve developed a new found love for Manchow soup. Never ate it before, but we get it all the time now De-friggin-licious! We don’t do all that much around here but it’s a cool place to live for a while. Pun intended. It’s cold.
February 20th, Happy Shivratri!
Today is Monday and the first day of Shivratri. Also known as Shiva day. It is celebrated throughout India and apparently all the temples make and give away some drink called “Bhanglassi”. Lassi is like a fruit smoothie kind of drink, and Bhang is cannabis. So people drink it and get stoned (not the same effect as ‘stoned’ but it hits ya).
It’s first thing in the afternoon (my morning) and I haven’t figured out how to get my hands on any yet, but I will. Gotta join in the Indian culture right?
Okay so I finished my soup and Rush and Ryker aren’t around so I decided to check out the Bhagsunag temple. There were a lot of people there so I just did like everyone else. I took off my shoes, walked in the temple, rang the bell and lined up behind everyone else inside. Let me point out that after my experience today, I will never go near a friggin temple during a holiday again! I was really offended by the way the Indians composed themselves. I know that I’m the foreigner and this is Indian custom, but personally, I will never go back in a busy temple. It was a huge line up, the Indians push and shove and budge in line, and the friggin kids sneak in everywhere too.
We never ended up getting Bhanglassi, and we are upset by this. That night we could hear people partying and singing until like 4am. We should’ve ventured out but we just weren’t feelin’ it. We watched The Rum Diaries and we enjoyed it. #EmpowertheFowl.
The next day, we met up with Raj, Rocky, Gotham and Sunil. They harped on us for not coming out last night. We got drunk with them and ended up talking our way into staying the night at their place for free. So we told Bavinder we were done with him, and moved our bags over to Rocky’s for our last night in Bhagsu. Since we saved money on accommodation, we went out and got some vegetables and 2kg of mutton. When we got to the mutton guy, he was just about to start chopping up a severed goat’s head. Sorry, correction: he skinned its face off first. He started from the lower lip, down to the chin. It was gruesome. I got a little bit of spatter on me when he was cleaving its skull apart, but I just had to stay and watch. And learn. I was surprised at how much meat can be salvaged from a goat’s head to be sold to customers. Anyways we obviously bought the better parts for our soup that night, and none of the head bits.
Nighttime Jam Session
So the two German girls we met a few days ago, Ruby and Shandra, actually showed up to Gothams that night (we felt kinda bad because we didn’t really expect them to show up and never asked the guys). It was okay in the end, but it wasn’t very polite of us. Anywho, we busted out the guitar and the djembe and the mouth twanger thing, and we jammed. Not much singing (language barrier) but the music was good. Not being much of a guitarist and having not touched a guitar in a month or so, my safety song was “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Easy chords and easy to drum to. But I played around a bit and changed it up as best I could. Ryker unfortunately slept through the whole thing, having eaten bad chocolate ice cream the night before. So at the end of the night, Russia and I (being the gentlemen that we are) walked the girls home to the village adjacent to Bhagsu. For walking them, the girls treated us to tea and dessert. The whole trek probably cost Rush and I two hours.
The next day, we said our farewells to the guys, Rush and Ryker went to the internet café and Sunil, the girls and I hiked up the mountain for a few hours toward Triund (where Sunil has a shop). We literally walked through snow in the Himalayas. I’m glad I can say that in my life. That night we took a cab to Chakki Bank and caught a train to Delhi.
We arrived in Delhi at like 4am. The post office wasn’t open until 10 and our flight was at 1:30. So we found a random side street near the post office, got out Ryker’s laptop, and watched Avatar. The Indian folk that walked by gave us strange looks, but we smiled and said Namaste. Then towards the end of the movie, it must have been time for school because all these little kids in uniform kept coming up to see what we were watching. So we continued watching Avatar with like 10 little kindergarten kids. It was quite funny. Ryker’s laptop ran out of juice with maybe 15 minutes left in the movie, so we never finished it. Everything was open at this point so we got some grub nearby before heading to the post office.
The post office was the most frustrating, anger-inducing experience we’ve had to deal with so far this trip. That three-toothed seamstress dude took so long sewing fabric around our two parcels, we almost flipped our shit. A job that could take him literally ten minutes, took well over an hour. After the first parcel, he just got up and left. Disappeared. Ryker finally grabbed the fabric and started threading it himself until someone stopped him and the douchebag came back and finished the job. At about 12:00 we left the post office to catch our 1:30 flight. We were pissed. Sadly it left us with a very negative feeling about India.