Photo: From my guest house rooftop, McLeod Ganj.
4th day at McLeod Ganj. The best day
The 4th day was the best day in McLeod and most probably most magical and most coincidental. It was my 3rd day I didn’t go for shower- the nitrogen coldness of water.
The sun was shining graciously for the first time and it was good, really good. The is a good quote I would like to include it here, from Khaled Hoseini’s “The Kite Runner” , a novel about life of two best friend, each separated by the different class of society but bonded like a blood brother and shaken by the unforgetful incident and eventual Russia invasion in the 1970s Afghanistan. It was a story about friendship, separation, lost time and redemption. This one of the novel that has every guts to pull every emotional string in your heart to sing and sway to the beat of the world. Anyway, the quote goes: “ Better to be hurt by truth than to be comforted by lies”.
It was a beautiful day. So I took a lazy jazzy walk towards the direction of Bhagsu. Walking to Bhagsu felt like walking on the edge of paradise. The street was narrow and are without any sort of fence. The beauty of the nature, mountain, colored by grayish of tiny rocks and greenish grass and bluest of the sky- You wish the time would pause for you to close your eyes, breath in really hard and exhale to the nature in peace.
Thirty minutes after walking without realizing it, I reached a point where the was a waterfall. The water was flowing from the upper of the mountain, running down splashing on the rocks to the bottom of the river. The sun was as high as before and were still shiny. Locals were doing laundry on the waterfall, animals like sheep, goats, donkeys and cows were busying eating grass.
I bum into Elisabeth (Kee’s friend) while on the way back to central McLeod. After a meaningful conversation and a string of walking around enjoying the landscape of beautiful McLeod, we split and that was the last time I saw her. Then I decided to walk like a stray dog, without direction to kill any possible or eventual boredom of being alone. I ate a variety of street’s junk foods.
There was this stall that was selling something that look like baby sausages, black in color. It smells good. I was tempted so I approached the old lady who sells the black sausages. I asked what’s the food like a foreigner but apparently she didn’t speak English. So I just asked if it was a chicken sausage and shot her the look, the please-nod-yes-if-you-think-it’s- chicken sausage look. And she nodded so I brought a small plate. It taste funny but eatable but I was already begin to suspect it was something fishy. I finally decided to asked one stranger standing at the entrance of Peace café and to my amazement he told me it was a blood clog mix and fried with doll. The blood was from the goat. Not that I wanted to puke, but I decided it was too much a piece to chewed. And for two hours of so after that I just enjoying McLeod walking alone, contemplating a lot about nothing.
I decided to rest for a little while by stopping at one of the sidewalk café. The café was playing Elton John’s “Candle in the wind” and “Sacrifice” . I ordered myself a Japanese green tea and lay my back on the wall of the café, looking out to the view of the mountains.
My all time Top 5 singers/Band:
1. Eric Clapton
2. Elton John
3. The Beatles
4. Guns n’ Roses
As I was seating sipping my green tea, enjoying myself view of the beautiful and gorgeous landscape. There came along the most beautiful brunette girl I ever seen. She walking alone, smiling at something I don’t know, looking around her surrounding. I can’t express this but the feeling of mine laying my eyes on her that day as far as I can remember, was serene, happy and very smiley even though she was just one of the many stranger in McLeod. Not only she was smiling happily but she was walking with little hopping like a child going to the garden or like Alice going to wonderland. She was dressing an outfit so simple, a jeans and a baby T with cardinal. I kept looking at her, non stop as she was the girl of my lifetime. The more I look at her the more it ring a bell in my head that I somehow knew her.
As she walking by, the familiarity was starting to develop a picture so clear in perfection in my head. I still couldn’t figure out who was she? Was she someone I fall in love in my past life?
And out of the blue and suddenly, …abracadabra, I remember her. I remember the girl and thanks God it was not someone I knew from past life. Yes. It was still the most beautiful real life brunette I ever met in my life; Kathrin from Germany. One of the two babe I met in Udaipur. Just when I thought I was all by myself for the rest of my stay, I saw someone I never thought of seeing again. So I walked to the edge and shouted out her name so loud, at the top of my lungs and in big surprise I couldn’t feel nor gasp. I was actually hoping it was her. And when she turn around and responded to my calling, her blue eyes caught mine and she was uttering my name is slight hesitation.
I invited her to the sidewalk café and we had a drink for a while before I walked with her, cruising the long walk that lead to the Dalai Lama temple. Our view were passing through the view and landscape of paradise.
Strange it may seems, and it really seems like it had been a years since the last time I saw her but the fact was I had seen her only last 2 weeks or so in Udaipur. If I am John Mayer, the guy who sing “Your body in wonderland” and I have the right to cast the girl for my MTV, she will definitely in my MTV.
Kathrin just arrived from Delhi that day when I met her. Her friend, Maria, suppose to arrive day after. We walk in circumference direction in the Dalai Lama temple. As we were walking, we also spinning the “mani prayer wheels” along the way. This wheel is the symbol of Tibet. The wheel is filled with thousands of Avalakit eshwara mantras “Om mani padme thum”. he believer believe that by turning this wheel once one earn merit equal to the recitation of the mantras filled inside the wheels. The wheels has to be turned in clockwise direction and it may find you peace and happiness.
In the temple, Kathrin & I befriended a Tibetan student aspire to become a monk and a 18 years old Swiss girl. It happen that the Swiss girl was staying in the same guest house and if that is not coincidental enough, her room was just two step away from my room. The monk soon-to-be, Jam Yang and the Swiss girl, Florine, Kathrin and I spent the rest of the evening watching the sunset from the Dalai Lama balcony, on top of the mountain.
Then I left them and meeting up with Jorgen & Hannah in Sunrise café which is a small hut café, lighted by neon light, and self proclaim serving the best and cheapest tea in Asia. It was very hippie look-alike shop. In the shop, we met with a white guy, a hippie look-alike. He was kind of eavesdropping at our conversation and occasionally showing some facial interest to join our conversation. His name is Luke and he is 23 years old chap from Melbourne- Australia. He is a self employed and part time poet. He is in India for about 6 month already, with hope to cure his writer’s block. It was a very interesting and full of intellectual, dogmatic conversation, from social economic to politic and illegal war, anti establishment, religion and freedom of traveling.
That night was the last night for Jorgen & Hannah. We celebrated by smoking up with fresh air at my balcony. When the sun shine early morning- they were gone, to Manali.
5th day, McLeod Ganj
After having 2 plates of omelets, hot tea and butter toast bread for breakfast at Sunrise café, I took a walk towards the same way that lead to the Dalai Lama temple. It is the same way where you will walk over and over again, because it was blessed with serendipity view and atmosphere.
At moonspeak café, I saw Maria, friend of Kathrin whom I also met in Udaipur. It was exactly the same place where I saw Kathrin. Together we were walking to the direction of Dalai Lama temple, to the temple, passing through many shops and temples. We were suppose to walk in circumference but somehow we didn’t knew so we ended up walking the other wise. For couple of hours, we just exploring the place and eventually we were back in my guest house. We hung out for a while at my rooftop, and she left after a coke.
6pm, I met up with Maria, Kathrin and Kyle, the American Chinese traveler whom also I familiar with (also in Udaipur) but never talk before. Kyle turn to be a very interesting and friendly guy, just like most traveler.
As the night usher in, we went to Om café, a café that offer us a wide and spacious place that overlooking one of the most greatest view in India. It was so great that the tables was fully occupied. But we were lucky to bum into this lone traveler from Israel who happen to seat alone. Shai was his name. Another interesting guy who traveled to China, Tibet, Mongolia before India. Like many Israelis, Shai started traveling after the compulsory military service. While we were waiting for our foods to be served, out of the blue we were surrounded by the gathering fog. It was crazy like we were stuck in the cloud #9, with nice restaurant in it. We couldn’t see anything further than 5 meter. This place is so beautiful that I began to rethink of my departure date. I was thinking of leaving tomorrow but somehow I was reluctant to go. I just met with the girls and Kyle and we had so much to share in common and interesting topic to talk about and moreover, McLeod is so freaking gorgeous, blissful that I wish I can stuck there forever.
We took a walk after dinner and when we finally reached central McLeod, I decided to break it out to say goodbye to them and the place. And it goes, “ OK guys, it is nice to meet you all here and I guess it is time now for me to say goodbye” and Kathrin with her melancholy face look at me and say: “ Oh no…but you can’t do this Peter, this is so beautiful, you cannot leave…you still have to show me the place”. At that moment I feel like I didn’t really want to leave.
The reason I wanted to leave was because I was there for 5 days already and I think I should have move on if I want to go to more places. Then I realize why the hell should I move since I had abandoned the plan to go to Leh, Srinagar with Hannes? Plus I had too many days remaining in hand and I could easily stay for more. I was ahead of my planned schedule.
Then I wasn’t sure anymore if I stayed more days because of McLeod Ganj or Maria, Kathrin and Kyle. I guess it was both, the place and the people.
As we were walking passing through many cafes and restaurant and Cinema 1, Kyle pull out the schedule of the monthly screening movie for Kathrin and she was like: “Oh no…this crazy hippie movie…, I had watched movie when I was like 14 and it was a crazy movie”
I was curious and I asked, what movie was that? And to my big surprise, she replied Oliver Stone’s Doors. There it was, then and there I decided to stay another day for the movie. It was a movie starring Val Kilmer. It is a movie that I was searching for a very long time already, from Malaysia to Thailand to India. It was a movie I wanted to watch so damn long ago but wasn’t available.
6th day, McLeod Ganj
On the 6th day God made….ah, let’s do it again. On the 6th day, I didn’t much thing but the same old routine.
We met again for dinner at the same restaurant. We went to a fusion performance somewhere down the hillside. They charged Rs. 50 per entrance. Maria and I decided not to go in because we were already late for an hour plus, it was nothing special to us because we had seen better one. So we walked to one of the small shop that serve Chai.
When we finally met again, we went to the direction of Bhagsu. And we stop midway where a little out of the way, there was a place where no one knew. We just lay our back and enjoying the full moon view, listening the night splash of waterfall and talking the night away. It was a silent night, so silent that maybe you could listen to the ant whisper. One dog was with us all the way until we were there, staring at the moonlight. We name him Buddy.
So I kiss the girl on the cheek as a mark of farewell as well a bear hug for Kyle. I left the day after that, after watching Doors and brief drink at Moonspeak café with Kathrin, Maria & Kyle.
7th day, McLeod Ganj
Song: Hurricane by Bob Dylan
When it is the time to go, you will just know it. It is really hard to say goodbye, to Kathrin and to McLeod. I really love the thing that I was doing then. I was quite bluesy as my traveling is approaching to an end. I still couldn’t figure out why I left. I had many days in hand but something is calling me home. I guess at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter and it is better to leave it there to be a mystery, I mean, on my the fuck I left.
When you are traveling, things are very much different.
From the thing you see to the think you touch to the think you feel and from the people you meet to the places you been, it is all fucking different. I couldn’t explain here the big differences but to put in a nutshell, I think we became more sensitive towards everything surrounding us when we were traveling. The sound of nature became purer, the grass suddenly became greener and trust me when I say this, somehow you will grow fond and sentimental with the places especially a place like McLeod Ganj. Everything was like in a movie. When I took that local cheap government bus to Pathankot, I was all by myself, seating by the window and there I was feeling like a bad ending of a romantic movie.