Last Monday night I spoke with Swati, and she informed me of the trip to Manali. Well, it turned out to surpass anything I could have possibly began to imagine. It was another foray into the Himalayas, and we even roughed it a bit too. We left Tuesday evening about 7, and we reached Jaho at about 9 in the morning. It was a whole lot of bus ride. We had cabin seats which meant we got to spend a whole lot of time in a confined space; not that buses aren't already cramped. At one point in the evening I even left the cabin to lay down in the aisle of the bus as most people were sleeping, and I wanted a piece of the action also. There was one action extended that didn't appeal to me in the slightest. Earlier in the evening we were in the cab merrily rolling down the noisy road, and another cabinmate offered me and my company a 'smack' joint. Well, yea, no interest in the slightest. For a while thereafter he was pretty messed up. Although, it was quite something watching him so closely with nowhere else to go. He kept to himself. So much so, that I had to ask him to return to me several things that had 'fallen' out of the waterbottle pocket of my bag and neatly ended up in the corner under some other water bottles and papers. Yea, well, I'll just repeat what Nathan said after my Ipod got nicked in Bombay: there are assholes everywhere.
When we got to Jaho it turned out to be Swati and her other friend, Anouj's buddy Nitin we were meeting up with. He is a horseman, and he has a family of 23. Some are himalayan something or anothers and the rest Geldings (if that is even right; biology was always tough for my forgetfulness). And, then there is Pi who's a sweetheart of a girl. Using her shorter quadrapedal stride and furry tail she helps warn of danger in the evening and assists in trekking. It was a beautiful family. With any luck I will have some beautiful snaps to share with everyone when I get them back. While there, I consumed some bad water. It was not pretty becasue the following day, when it hit me, we were taking another six hour journey through the foothills to reach Manali. Yikes. Not a pretty subject, but calmness and a taxi for the last four hours of the journey helped ease some of the difficulty. We reached Manali and stayed a couple days time before I decided to head back to Delhi. My friends got sucked into a k-hole of sorts because Manali is one of the primary regions for Hash in India. Thus, it is no surprise that during the drive back I was picked out by the inspectors that entered our bus. I had had five days of facial growth at that point, and I can only imagine what my complexion looked like a couple days after my draining experience. So, they made me unpack my bag in my lap piece by piece by piece. They asked where my other bag was because clearly my fanny pack wouldn't be enough to travel with, and when I explained I stay in Delhi they turned their attention to the next dope suspect in the line. So, then after a succesful dinner stop and a middle of the night tire change we reached Delhi in the early hours of Sunday morning. It was great because I was back in time to hang with Gayatri a bit before she headed on to see another friend of hers in Allehbad. My friends throughout traveling have been so wonderful to me and so supportive when I have needed them. I would like to take the opportunity to express my happiness for knowing each person I have met along the path.
Monday was great because I got into the kitchen with Shivi at home, and we womped up a feast. I was explaining Chaat in an earlier entry from this month, so it should be no great surprise that one of my first undertakings in a home kitchen was to tryout Palak Patta Chaat, or deep fried spinach leaves with saout chutney (Jaggery, tamarind, and raw mango), mint chutney (Mint, green chilli, and corriander), sweet dahi (yoghurt and sugar), black salt, chaat masala, and a bit of Kashmiri red chilli. Damn. Add to that a butter cream dal, Kashmiri eggplant, beans and potatoes, and some romani rotis. Who Damn. It was some kind of fierce.
Tuesday I had my last day at Chor Bizarre. I want to focus on some of the projects I have been discussing with people, and I have gotten a good sense of the kitchen and cuisines in the ten days I went in. It will be nice to Thank Prashast's aunt tomorrow for helping arrange that. It was a really wonderful experience. I am still thinking about what I would like to say, but when I have that I will put it up here also.
This morning I woke up to a relapse of my illness from last week. I don't know what has brought this about, but despite big ambitions for tearing things up today I am taking it a bit slower in hopes that all will balance out in the world. I don't want to hover near a toilet to much more in the near future.