Sunday, June 03, 2007

Laynlow Since '75

On coming into my thirty second year I was flowing to destinations I had no understanding, rhyme or reason for where I was travelling to. Something else was drawing me to where I ended up. I was in Amritsar on my way to Rishikesh. I made a call to my friend Akshay and he tells me that he never left Delhi. So I decided I would see if I could squeeze on to the Shatabdi Express that speeds towards Delhi in 5 3/4 hours. I had to wait a half an hour before the 'chart' would be ready and I could get a stand-by ticket. In case I couldn't get a seat I wanted to make sure I could get a non-government run bus to Delhi.

The driver and I had different perspectives on our issue and so I told him that he could be on his merry way and so would I. So I found my self at the bus stand that was filled with government run buses ;) I ended up jumping on a bus almost immediately that was heading to Pathankot, a place I've never heard of until that moment. It is a hub to get connecting buses to Dharamsala. That's where I was heading...

It was Saturday afternoon and the bus left Amritsar at half three and ended up arriving at half six. Then I run to get my 'connecting' bus that arrives at 8pm... hours to be stranded in Pathankot. Well I guess I wasn't stranded, there were some Israelis ;)

The first bus arrived at 8pm and was rushed by locals to fill the limited seats, the rest left standing. I wasn't having any of that. As I was up on the roof loading in all the packs I decided I'm riding on top of the bus and the rest of the Israelis followed suit. That is until the police showed up. I tried arguing with them but they claim to have a rule in place that it is not allowed to ride up top during the night hours. I sat with a couple of younger Punjabi lads after the commotion had settled and just told them it was because we were foreigners. If it was a pack of Indians up there no one would blink and eye and if one fell off they couldn't be bothered to stop. However, a tourist falling off would require a lot of paperwork ;)

So my bubble burst and the bus left. The novice travellers dictated rule and we stayed to wait for the 9pm bus which woudl land us in Dharamsala at around 1am. Same thing happened. The bus was charged towards by the locals, elbowing, shoving and just acting belligerent... some would say that's 'par for the course'?!

I managed to procure a seat with the aid of my trusty mobile home and friend, in other words my pack. I put my bag on the roof and came to sit down. But I wasn't about to give up on my dream to ride on the bus through the moon lit sky. Rolling down the road approaching the very hour that I was born (12:43am) as I stared up into the sky and tried to measure the wisdom that has found me in this quickly passing last year, that's exactly how I wanted it to be.

I gave my seat to an elder wiser looking chap and told him that I was a young man and was no matter for me to stand. The first stop the bus made I made a mad dash to the ladder on the back of the bus, surreptitiously navigated over the bags to find a nice little divot. Laying on my back with my feet up and the cool breeze rustling through the branches as they whipped my ears nearly taking an eye out now and again was blissful ;) Then I heard a voice invade my moment demanding we "come down from up there, you three!", busted. The last three hours of the journey was spent standing up holding on to whatever I could to prevent me from falling over as the bus whipped from side to side through the twists of the valley.

I arrived...

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