Chango looked beautiful early in the morning. It reminded me of my maternal village. More beautiful was the monastery and the writing on the mountain as seen from the village. I did not go to the monastery, it seemed too far for me to walk. I had to get back in time, Rishi was still sleeping in the guest house. I remembered I did not have nay way of contacting the ‘red cheeks’ and I had not fixed a time or place. I am always so flowing, time and places do not matter to me and sometimes I pay the price of thinking like that. I did not remember her name either, too difficult to remember. I think she ate a lot of apples.
The villagers were just getting up, the cows were just getting out and the sunflowers were just starting to smile. Each village house had a farm in front. I remembered my plans of self sustained living had never taken off.
breakfast was served with a insight into local social fabric. our cook-cum-restaurant-owner hated people having fancy modern western name. He was worried about them loosing their culture. I was starting to get worried too, I was starting to love their culture. He also told us that the village stayed together with everyone taking care of each other. Personal relations had a higher meaning over there. Inter village marriages were less; Marriages, as such, were less; our cook got married after he had 3 children. I realised ‘red cheeks’ would not have worked out for me. I left the place with a heavy heart and wet eyes looking at the rear view mirror.There were grey mountains in the mirror.
The road was almost non existent except places where the terrain was flat between the mountains. Maps were no good. No GPS either. Nobody to ask directions from, but I wanted to take a diversion for Dankar. It was at a greater height, and had another monastery. However, Rishi was discouraged. we had taken a wrong diversion and were stuck at a very bad road earlier. We settled to go to Sangam, another diversion. There was a national park of Himalayan animals, hmmmm….. interesting. I agreed because it was the end point of the trekking route from Khirganga to mud, a 8 day 110 km strenuous trek. I had a plan to do that, i wanted to come close to it. But it looked like it was not on the cards either. we could not go further from the place were the road disappeared into the river bed filled with big stones. The Alto was the limiting factor. on top of that we had almost burnt the clutch plates trying to rescue the car. I could not work the stones to get the car out. Along came help in Buddha’s country. 6 of us pushed the car to firmer ground. We waited for the clutch plates to calm down.
We could only stop at Tabo. The sun was starting to burn us. I could not find the sunscreen I bought from peo. Tabo was a plain, architecturally simple monastery made out of mud and leaves one thousand+ years ago. Yes you got me right, 1000 years ago. I have photographs to prove it. A marvel, I must say. Some of the buildings had flat roofs and other conical ones. I wanted to sleep on the terrace of the float ones and look at the million stars in the clear sky at night. I wanted some music. Rishi woke me up.
Something with Rishi was not right. something was up with him, first time in the trip I had seen him not so calm.
He reconciled with himself at aunty’s shop outside the monastery where he wanted to buy a silver ‘om’ pendent for someone. eh? I could not understand. Never the less I got myself a rotating payer sayer that monks used. Food and water was sparse we were not hungry either. At that high altitudes you tend to loose your appetite, but its very important to remember to eat. we did not. Instead we headed to Kaza. The sun continued to burn us. we did not have enough water. If we rolled up the windows of the car we would be microwaved. We could not turn the ac on, the car did not have enough power. My legs were begining to feel the burn. I was getting irritable, so was rishi. certainly we were not thinking straight.
When we reached Kaza, we immediately drove out, it was very crowded with the independence day celebrations. we found some fresh cool water flowing in a garden at a restaurant on the outskirts of the town. Rishi first and then I lowered myself in that. It felt sooo soothing. This is what we were missing. why did we not just jump into a flowing river? why were we tolerating the sun so much? we certainly were not thinking straight.
It was nice to see so many people again in Kaza. Israelis are the most visually beautiful of the lot. They mostly gathered around the place were you hire the bikes, do they never get burnt from the sun? The market in kaza was huge with mostly food grain and essentials selling all over. Hand made stuff were available at a lot of make shift shops around the market. Restaurants mostly served Israeli food, we settled for some chowmein and some thupka. The town had a freaking German Bakery. I had forgotten the sun then. I got a lot of stuff along with some chocolate balls.
Somehow we were so used to the vast open space and solitude that we did not want to stay over in Kaza.
We had to go.