We were starting to enter the world of mobile connectivity again. The Traffic grew till it filled the road. My phone wanted to know everything about everything on the internet before it allowed me to make a call. It got me some messages a dear friend had left for me on watsapp. She had an eventful weekend; It disturbed me; I kept it aside and drove the thought out of my head. I had been unreachable for 4 days. I called up mom; she did not have an idea about anything. I told her I was not in Delhi and that now my phone was working fine. She bought it. Monjo called, things were not fine at her end. Things were not fine with anyone in my friends circle; I called up Poki, he was lonely, I could sense his voice. That put me in stress. I hated it. I heard Rishi explaining his mom he was fine, then explaining me he was tired. Lies, Loathing and loneliness. I hated all this. I hated coming back to the world. I wanted to get out of the car and run. I wanted to run. I did not want to see anyone for a while. Just then, Rishi asked me for directions. On a straight road… eh?
Kasol was 45 kms ahead, Rishi wanted to stop at manali, no way. In all these years i have been to kullu valley numerous times, i have never stayed in manali city. Thats like Delhi; But this time I started feeling the forces were against me. How bad could it be? We had dinner at the first restaurant we found. The food was disgusting. It was mass produced on an assembly line with ingredients which were mass produced with super charged fertilizers. I will not stay in Manali. I was searching my mind for all the possibilities. Luke… He is always the savior. He gave me a contact in old manali. It was just couple of kilometers away.
We met him in a pub lounge. The lounge was very beautifully converted garden. We got some beer. That gave us a lot of energy. We sat there for some time before we started our walk to the inside of the old manali village. Guided by mobile lights on village tracks, i don’t know how long we walked. The room was on the first floor of his house, it had a garden in front and i could hear some water rushing. I could rest there. I wanted the man to leave but he sat chilling with us. He had some good music on his phone, so it was ok. I thought it was best i go to sleep. Rishi left with the other man. eh? was he not tired? Thought of his security crossed my head. I warned him and left the rest to the government of India, who had certified him to be an adult and awarded him with the right to take his own decisions. He came back, i guess, after a few hours.
I got up early as i usually do. Looked for someone who could make me a cup of tea. I settled for some water. The birds were singing, the plants were hustling, some village chicken made noises. I needed all of that. I sat in the balcony. In the room on the left there was a traveler from Israel, she had just come back from Kashmir. She made postcards from photo cutouts to be sent home. She showed me some of them. She told me some man was very drunk and was fighting with his mother last night. I asked her if a boy, comparatively sober was with him then. She left to get breakfast. After a while I needed my tea so i walked out.
Lost I was in the village, good. I walked all around till I reached the main road. Got some tea and cookies in a tea stall run by a Japanese. I slowly sipped it and watched all those travelers walking around. Israelis, Japanese; I didn’t know the valley now had so many Japanese visitors. I took my time to go back.
Rishi was enjoying the mountain sun, he did not want to talk about last night. I joined him and both sat there lazying. I wanted to stay back in manali for the day but now we had to go home. I had to sleep well before I could join work. we started our drive back. We stopped again in manali and this time i insisted on finding the german bakery for breakfast. I lost my atm card there; but the food was great, so I forgot about the debit card. I had very low expectation of the drive from manali to delhi, just wanted to finish the 13 hour drive in one go.
It was beautifully green in the valley, I surprisingly enjoyed the drive till mandi. Someone, I don’t remember how we started talking, told us about 7 temples in uttrakhand on a river bed which get flooded during rains and ’emerge’ in the winters. He was a driver i suppose, drivers have the best stories to tell you, they go places. I made a note of it.
Mandi onwards we just drove, as fast as we could, as much as we could. I did not want to stop. I was falling asleep. Rishi woke me up some 4 o’clock in the morning, huh, i knew time then. He said he was feeling sleepy and he could not drive any more. we still had a hundred and a half kilometers before delhi. I asked him to pull over his car, pull the seats back and just go to sleep. The sun was up when we were up. I never wait for the sunrise in Delhi. We quietly drove. I got down in safdarjung picked up as many of my things from Rishi’s car as I could take. I just closed the door and walked away. I did not talk.
I was home, that is what everyone called it. I was thinking about the morning in Kibber.