Ticket to the mountains

Sepember 14, 2012

The tiny office of an Indian travel-agent. The owner looks decisive, quick , confident, and  busy. Very busy. His office is too full to enter. That might be a good sign.

I come back later and look at the picture of the old style Volvo bus that I am about to book. 500 rupees, leave at the office at  five o’clock the next  day. Mister Busy has just enough time to write something down on an old piece of paper and hand it to me. My receipt.

Transaction over. Next consumer please. No time for any further questions. I feel a bit like a sheep and wonder if my bus will look the same as on the picture. 

My ticket to the mountains. I am going to see the Himalayas, learn about the Dalai  Lama and the Tibetan community and —Auuuuuch!  Bad stomach! Yesterday’s curry was not successful.

The next morning. The man behind the reception desk of my hotel asks me to pay for the room. I tell him that I already did so the day before. When exactly did I pay? Do I have a receipt? I never got one. And am I sure I did not just buy a bottle of coke? After a long discussion he lets me go. Thankfully.

It starts raining. Almost bus time. I buy some crackers, water and bananas and walk to Mr. Busy’s office. I get told to follow a man. And another man. I am part of another human chain and walk through the streets of New Delhi. A nice Israeli girl with the same destination got left behind. She begged to come with us, but was not allowed by our travel agent, she had to go with someone else. Strange.

After our walk, we are summoned  to wait at a street corner. Half an hour passes. A Volvo bus stops. Luggage? Twenty rupees please! Thank you. I get told to sit at the back of the bus. I refuse. No. Not possible. No seat number on my ticket. Bus is full. I wrap myself up in a blanket and hope to disappear for the next 12 hours. Like a ghost. To reappear as soon as my bus has arrived.

A long, windy road. Pain. I eat two bananas and throw up immediately after. In a bag. Every movement hurts.

Arrival. General relief. 

Early morning in Himachal Pradesh. A hawk is flying over the village . Trees and mountains. Prayer flags. New land to discover.

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