We reached the HP tourism office at the Chandralok Building, Janpath at 6:30 pm this evening. While we waited for our bus, we had some “chai” at a nearby petty shop.
Finally the bus arrived at 7 PM. When we started from Delhi, there was a bad traffic jam. We had our dinner in a very small shady dhaba [Jeera rice and dal] somewhere near Chandigarh. The journey was relatively eventless. The only entertainment was, there was a group of Maharashtrian people traveling with us, who were cracking very typical Marathi jokes and Sandeep and I would look at each other and smile. Otherwise, I slept most of the time. As we began to gain altitude I thought I had a nauseating feeling. As usual Sandeep asked me to ignore it and I kept quiet.
We reached Manali at about 10.30AM and were met with Kaushal at the Manali Bazar bus stop. We found him to be quite an interesting person and hoped that we have good time ahead with him.
Kaushal had arranged for our stay in a small hotel called “Him Guest House” right in the Bazar. It was a small but clean and comfy little place.
While chatting with Kaushal over a cup of tea, I had already started dreaming about the next two weeks
The Manali Bazaar has quite a few restaurants that serve various cuisines. Basically all serve junk food and I am always ready for any kind of junk food. We both had Gujarati Thali and after that a plate of Gulab Jamun, which Sandeep didn’t like so I had to eat his, share also. After strolling around for sometime in Bazaar, we came back to our hotel and tried to get some sleep. I couldn’t sleep so I tried to watch TV (there was no remote). After sometime when Sandeep woke up, he laughed at me because I was watching one of the daily “saans-bahu” soaps on Star Plus.
By the time it was 4 o’clock, it had already started getting dark. Suddenly I thought I heard the sound of rain outside. Both of us immediately rushed out to confirm our worry. Rain in Manali was the last thing we wanted now. This is because, we were hoping that the weather doesn’t play truant with us for the next couple of weeks or so. Rain in Manali would definitely mean snow in the higher passes, and that’s just what we didn’t want. Ours was one of the last expeditions of the season and the chances of weather going bad were very high and that’s what we didn’t want. I cranked my neck and looked at the heavens to check if my worries were justified. Thank the heavens. A false alarm!!
After getting down at Manali, Sandeep realized that its going to be extremely cold at high altitude as in Manali itself the temperature was very low. So we thought, we will buy a sweater for him. We went to bazaar and after visiting some shops, we finally bought one sweater for him. A typical one, not unlike the ones, which our Bollywood heartthrob, Rishi Kapoor used to wear in his movies.
We had our dinner and came back to hotel as Kaushal called us and informed that he wants to meet us.
He came around 7.30 PM and informed us that all the arrangements were done. We are all set to go. His partner, Rinku is going to join us. He also gave us the news that his porters ditched him at last moment so he has decided that we are going to take horses instead of porters. So now we have five people who include Sandeep, Kaushal, Rinku, Prem [the horse man] and I. We already knew that this time the trekking experience was going to be quite different. We have to pitch in and help in all the tasks including pitching the tents, cooking, washing the dishes etc. Let’s hope for the best. We slept at 9PM.