By Kriti Nagpal
How about travel plans are made out of impromptu decisions with no tickets booked no hotel booked only bags packed! But that’s where the fun lies. Isn’t it? It was 15th August and I was celebrating the day with my friends and rain God thought to entertain us.
The sudden idea to hit the road stuck me and I gave that mischievous smile as I exchanged looks amongst us. I asked, “Brothers all set to roll?” I could see the excitement was at it’s peak as we lifted ours bags and yelled out let’s catch the bus! And we headed to the Himachal Bhawan and book a bus. Sadly there was no bus for the day, and Plan B was ready – head to ISBT, Kashmiri gate. It was just madness unlimited and as we walked towards the counter, the man there asks “Kaha jaoge?” (Where would you guys go), and pat came the reply “Bhaiya aap Jaha lejaoge“. (Wherever you’ll take us). I bet that the man behind the counter must have never had such an encounter.
Thankfully we got the tickets to Manali and being 15th of August weekend the Himachal roadways bus was almost empty. The Himachal roadway drivers are no less than our own Indian version of fast and furious. As the wind playfully flirted with me I got engrossed in my own world, I was loving the emptiness around me.
We were pretty tired but the excitement was wining and finally we hit the curves! I woke up with a friend’s call who was already at Bahu in Kullu district. In no time our bus reached Aut and from there we hopped on a cab for Bahu ,settling it for Rs.850. After all the greetings and giggling we walk towards our beautiful wood furnished cottage build by Naik bhai, also a local. Two rooms, a hall and a kitchen, apple orchards and a view to die for. What else does one want.
As we reached, freshly made Mint tea was waiting for us, but hunger pangs too started knocking. Accompanied by a friend I went down and shopped some groceries. After a good meal the boys decided to sleep, while Sid decided to take a trek uphill and show me around and we left for a stroll somewhere in the village. The fresh air around just filled by senses and I was alive again. Hills are my dope. Bird watching, collecting nick nacks and clicking pictures we reached Bahu lake right in the heart of the village. I wanted to stop and enjoy but was forcefully convinced to move until we get a really cool spot to sit, and what we see- a pond covered under the shade of tall trees. It was simply serene there.
The stroll back was very calming. In the meantime we saw the boys had woken up to some music and smell of pakoras and chai. By evening it was time to pour some Solan no.1 (local Himachal alcohol) and feel the warmth to fight the chilly weather. Sid was busy n preparing some dessert for us. Kheer it was – surprised, yes we managed to make this too. With all the luxuries at our disposal, this place was just one step short of heaven as we sat and watched the shooting stars.
Next day woke up to Bob Dylan’s ‘The answer my friend is blowing in the wind‘, while Naik bhai served us Thandai done with freshly plucked Bhang leaves (Cannabis) and we sat planning our next destination. What we see two new friends knocking at our door- Sheena and Suneet. Being a localite she was quick to pick the destination – Tirthan valley it was!
Those who have been here might know that Raju’s cottage is the only place to stay, but we found another newly opened awesome place “Streams spirit”. One can reach his cottage by crossing a river that too with a help of a pulley. Now doesn’t that sound exciting. I decided to go on a stroll near the river as I watched the waves go up and down. As evening approached we decided to hod on something simple – Dal –chawaal, the perfect soul food. Peaceful night it was!
Morning was turning out to be a little gloomy since the trip was coming to an end as we sipped our tea. There was kinda awkward silence that was growing on me and kinda difficult to handle. I decide to break it as pop the question “What next?’ They pass me a look I was fearing. I continued saying ‘I think I’m not getting back home this early, this trip needs to be continued solo i feel. Old Manali it is for me. Bye boys I’m off!’
And I packed my bags again as I set all myself for another journey. It was going to be my kinda solo trip.
Apart from being a very dear friend the writer her passion lies in travelling, while she loves to style people. Give her a happy plate and she is all yours