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Mesmerizing Manali

Now before it gets too late I want to put down my experience of turning 26 in a phenomenal way! A trip so memorable & something which I’ll cherish forever.

My parents had planned a trip to Manali on the occasion of my birthday. Though monsoon is not really the best time to visit a hill station but we didn’t mind as we really wanted to go for a vacation & wanted to spend my birthday with the entire family.

So on Saturday, July 22, 2012 we started for Manali by bus in the evening. It was an overnight journey coupled with some interesting co passengers!

We reached Manali in the morning. After freshening up I went in search of a computer with internet connection as I had to file a very important story & send it to office. After it was done I completely forgot the workstress and just let go the bad mad world outside the serene hill station.

Post lunch (Chicken masaledar, veg polao & chicken chowmein which ma had ordered for herself) we decided to go for a trek. Ma decided to stay back & take a power nap while Baba & me went ahead.

We walked for almost 2.5 hours crossing Van Vihar, a forest of coniferous trees, Picadily theatre, Beas river…which was absolutely amazing! I could watch the torrent flow for hours. It was wonderful to see how the speed increased manifold when the river collided with the huge stones in the midst of the river. It’s like life. Unless you face real challenges, you don’t really know what your actual potential is. Or like they say, best quality wines are result of thousands of grapes getting crushed.

Well lot of philosophy up there! We also crossed a hotel named Honeymoon Inn! What a cheesy name! We finally reached our destination, Atal Vihari Vajpayee Mountaineering Institute, where my father underwent training in the year 1981. It was beautiful inside with lots of colourful flowers which were of most amazing combinations. We came out, had tea in a small yet cosy tea shop & headed back to the hotel. By that time my feet started aching badly and wanted to dip them in warm water. In the mall road we went to this ‘German’ bakery named Cafe ‘Amigos’ (What a German-Spanish combo) to buy something to munch for our next day’s Rohtang trip. We ended up buying cheese cake, walnut cake, brownies and bread. I also wanted to buy apple pie, banana cake n chocolate cake but somehow resisted… After coming back we had fried rice and chicken manchurian abd retired for the day.

Next day we left by 6 in the morning for Rohtang Paas. We had a jolly & chirpy driver, Deepu Thakur. The day looked nice & bright but like the true blue climate of a hill station, it started pouring cats & dogs. My over optimistic dad didn’t even feel the need to bring umbrellas even while carrying them for the trip! We went to a shop and hired special snow suits, which were basically windcheater jumpsuits and snow boots. After a long journey we reached Rohtang Paas. I’m unable to decipher the scenic beauty in my words.

High up there when it ceased to rain and I looked outside, I could see clouds in the midst of the valley. It was like white smoke. As if the valley was on fire.

By the time we reached it had stopped raining. But the altitude was so high that the lack of oxygen made us a bit uncomfortable. We had to take horses to reach the snowpoint. My over enthusiastic daddy insisted that he would trek to the destination. We were not in favour of it as he just recovered from illness but he was adament. I was nonchalant & asked ma to chill! The road was really bad. It was steep, stony & muddy due to the rain. I had a feeling he shouldn’t walk. It was really not safe. I kept looking back to find him walk slowly & steadily with the stick in his hand, borrowed from one of the local horse fellows. After a point I could not see him. Finally we reached the snow point but we were pretty morose as there was no trace of Baba.

People around us were enjoying in the snow clicking pictures, skiing, rolling on the dirty snow (yes it was really dirty with the muck and horse poop :-|), riding on the sleigh, eating maggi n sipping tea/coffee. We sat on a stone slab waiting for baba to arrive. Clicked some photoes till I got bored. Both of us were worried for baba. What if he lost control, fell down and hurt himself or got a hypoglycemia attack (when sugar level goes down the person feels dizzy, sweats profusely and the worst case is death due to cardiac arrest). I predicted that he must have gone back and took a horse for coming here. But my mom said no, the stubborn him would rather go back and wait for us to return than take a horse. After a while we saw him descending from a horse. My mom’s knight in shining armour finally arrived! Suddenly everything seemed so happy & sunny! Literally! I gave Ma a smug look & said, “What did I tell you?” She replied, “Really! You are so intelligent! That’s why it is so difficult to find the right guy for you who can match up with your smartness!” Uff how I love her for this! 🙂

We first decided to have tea & eggs. But they couldn’t boil eggs due to the altitude & rising oil prices, the one which they use for the stove. We had bread omlette and tea. Unfortunately like every other place, some people so lack civic sense…! They littered away in glory! I asked the vendor for a dustbin to which he showed me a carton which was a saving grace for me.

In next 10 minutes we climbed up, sat and did people & nature watching. After 5 more minutes, we resolved to the latter. It seemed like an eternity that we kept looking at the sky. Which was crystal clear at one minute. So blue that it seemed that it would melt and a drop of blue would turn the white snow blue. It was more of turquoise than blue. The other moment it would be cloudy. The next moment the mountain would be shrouded with mist. We were totally mesmerized untill we realized that it was time to leave.

While coming down I saw some flying beings… Paragliding people. I so wanted to do it. My parents were scared but I assured them that I really want to do this! We visited the camp and saw all the arrangements and decided to come back for the next big thing in my life the next day, my birthday!!!

More on this and my birthday in my next post…