More time in Manali

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, June 25, 2006

A sample of my gag e-mail that I thought would cause some heart attacks:

"To all my family and friends:

I have decided to stay in India and live with a Punjabi family. I have changed my name to Shakti, which, like my given name in Hindi means "powerful," and am arranged to be married to the daughter of Sanjay Singh, a Punjabi businessman I have befriended up here in Manali on holiday.
Though I have never met Ranisurya in person, I have seen her picture and she looks suitable. Her name means "Sun Queen."
As I sit in this internet cafe sipping chai (by candlelight, of course, the computer is running on backup power as the main power is off), Sanjay, my future father-in-law is now warming up the jeep to take us to a small town near Amritsar, where his lands are. Sanjay-baba has offered a sizeable piece of land to me as well as a small house, where Ranisurya and I plan to settle in and run the farm as Sanjay expands his trucking business.
We plan to have many children, and as she is 19, we have many years to be productive in that regard.
I have adopted the Sikh manner of dress turban, dagger, and bracelet/gauntlet, and plan to be initiated at the Golden Temple itself, the center of Amritsar and the Sikh religion, and home of the Holy Book which contains the wisdom of the 11 Sai Babas.

Those who wish to attend the wedding must hurry, as the date is in just two weeks, on July 6, and the ceremony will be in keeping with Sikh tradition. Put on your dancing shoes. Pointed toed shoes, of course.

All the best to all--J. (Shakti)"

Haha. . .Decided not to send this one out, as many in my family are older, and I don't want to cause cardiac arrest. . .

Anyway, you might be able to tell, I have had a bit of time for more creative pursuits here in Manali, as Rocinante is going each day to the Enfield Doctor, who's name, interestingly enough, is Karma. Karma Motors. Funny, that.
The monsoon is well on the way and within the next day or so I plan to load up the fresh and renewed Rocinante, head over Rothang Pass (over 15000 ft), and veer off to the east rather than stay north toward Leh. The monsoon keeps me moving, approaching me from the back like a truck that follows you so close it actually collides softly and does push you forward.

To the east lies the Spitti Valley, an arid and starkly beautiful region where a free-spirited pioneer (not saying I am any thing like this )can camp and trek without seeing any other souls, especially the western variety, of whom I grow tired in these touristy towns. Would like to do a little mineral/gem hunting as well, one of my favorite pastimes.
I found out about Spitti quite by accident, and the following morning at the mechanic's place, a young man and budding photographer/writer showed me a book of pictures and text about it. Case closed. One must be able to read a sign when showed one. Being shown two signs is a knock on the head, and only the thickest-skulled, most stubborn and determined (and perhaps stupid) souls would go counter.

Rocinante is running stronger than ever, and today is the last bits, and a cleaning, and she will be more than ready for the road. A new rear tire with extra grip for the bad road. There was a timing problem, and also the front forks need an overhaul, as well as new shoes in the back brake drum. All this work for less than 20 dollars US. I love this country. At least when I'm not annoyed with trying to find things.
I myself have geared up for the high country, had some long pants made from sheepskin leather, (also for a song, and fitted perfectly), gotten my fleece longjohns, sweaters and jackets in order, as well as a tarp and other cold weather gear. I did not go the "north face" route, as I like to use the materials at hand, and rough it a bit. Prepared, but not in the way that a more "well off" trekker would go. I suppose some part of me will be a tiny bit disappointed if there is no cold weather or snow, rain, or other hard-core hardships to overcome, but it will be what it is. .
I will be cooking on the mountain indian style, and can look forward to Dal Rice a lot, and chai, and any fish I can catch. The rivers are filled with trout and and the riversides are filled with mint and other edibles, so should be no problem. I am looking forward a bit to the solitude, and I hope this is what I find, though none can know the exact nature of that which does not exist yet.

So anyone who wishes to send news from home should do so within the next couple of days, otherwise I will not be able to communicate until I reach Leh, which could be a week or so, depending upon what I may find in the lesser-known regions of the Spitti Valley, where computers are as alien as, well, aliens, or something. Hopefully petrol is a little less alien, as, though I will be carrying a spare 5 liters, it is a long way to push up many mountains back to Tandi.
Promises to be interesting either way, and don't worry, I'm on the edge of my seat as well.

I always say it takes three days for me to know a town, and one week for the town to know me. Old Manali is becoming such, we have almost a family at the Jungle Bungalow,(behind the "clubhouse" Old Manali, HIGHLY recommended. . ) and the food is fantastic. Once again, it will be hard to leave this place and venture back into the wilds of the Himalaya, but my feet itch again, and I must be moving on. I do not question, my heart tells me when it is time to go.
As they say in India, "no hurry, no worry, chicken curry. . . "

and, as Robert Frost would say:

"The woods are lovely dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep. . . ."

and so I go off on the Road Less Traveled, with only landslides and rabid Yaks to worry about. The rest will be what it is. .
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playblues on

Sometimes I wonder
As much as I enjoy taking time out of my work day, to read of your travels and various adventures, I find myself wondering if in reality, these musings are actually typed from a DSL connection to your wireless Laptop, while eating Dominos delivery direct to your Hotel room at the Holiday Inn, Mumbai....???!!!!

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