More Indian madness.

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End Feb 24, 2013

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Where I stayed
Grand Hotel Amritsar
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of India  , Punjab,
Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our public bus trip for Daramshala to Dalhousie was a real experience. We were expecting a rather hairy journey around the mountains and I opted to sit on the right hand side away from the sheer drops.    It was nice to have my lovely husband alongside me to point out where he was also identifying loose rocks from recent landslides!   The driver needed to have good concentration to be able to see through the windscreen, there were so many dangly and flashing things on his dashboard to distract him.  The lovely conductor managed the streams of people coming on board and ensured that old people and ladies with children were seated and there were no objections from the adolescent boys who were asked to move.  The treatment of smaller children was amazing, they were plonked on to the lap of any seated person and were happy to sit quietly or fall asleep.  It was a huge relief to reach the heights of Dalhousie and our destination after about 5 hours.  

Dalhousie is another hill station and army barrocks which was used by the British and has more recently become known for its good schools. We had only one night here and had arranged to meet the Aunt and Uncle of a friend.   Jane met her husband Muqbal at a conference in Birmingham in the 1960's when she was 21 and soon after moved to India to work as an English teacher.  They were married and they have just celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.    Muqbal was formerly the Bishop of Delhi but they moved to his Mother’s house in Dalhousie when he retired in 1990.    They were the most delightful couple and the perfect hosts, surrounding us with fires to ensure we were kept warm and even offering hot water bottles for us to take away with us (we declined but accepted the hand knitted socks).   We had a lovely meal prepared by their cook which we enjoyed sitting in their bedroom which was the warmest room in the house.   It was so lovely to be able to spend time with them, definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

The next two days were set aside for trekking so we were up fairly early to drive up to the start of our first days trek.      The temperature has been dropping as we have headed further North but it was still a surprise to see snow on the ground at the start point of the Trek.   What followed was two very tiring days – extreme downhills followed by very long uphills.    Not a great idea to wear new outdoor shoes so am now nursing some nice blisters.

In the Chamba Valley we stayed at an organic farm on the side of a very steep hill which can only be accessed by a fairly steep mountain path.    A beautiful place and lovely people who spoilt us with hot water bottles and plenty of Rum but unfortunately it rained heavily so we spent a lot of time huddled around the fire with books or watching Bollywood movies (some really good ones!).    

We are now in Amritsar home of the Golden Temple and close to the Pakistani border.  After the peace of the mountains it has been quite a shock to return to chaos – noise, pollution, congestion.    Ah, back in to the India we love.   The Golden Temple was spectacular and it was amazing to see the thousands of Sikh pilgrims who come to visit.   Like the Sikh temple in Delhi there is a community kitchen here serving free meals and here they serve 10,000 people each day!

We ended the day with a visit to the border with Pakistan to see the madness that is the border closing ceremony.    Described by Rough Guide as a "Monty Pythonesque" it is impossible for me to describe how crazy this experience was.   Only in India!

Indian Lonely Hearts :   Reading the personal ads in the papers really makes us chuckle.  However, we’re yet to find one as good as the one that appears in the book I am currently reading about Delhi:

WANTED: Life companion for 28 year old, good-looking boy, well settled in decent job, suffering from sexual disorder, i.e acute premature ejaculation. Girl should either be suffering from the same disease or is not interested in sex otherwise.

What’s in the papers :     “Four die as train hits car near Pathankot station… Railway crossing gates were open, gateman absconding”.   A rather worrying headline when we drove to Pathankot station yesterday.
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