As we were trying to figure out what to do for a whole day in Kaza, in came Marcus. He was a world traveller. He was carrying 25 kgs baggage so he asked the bus driver and conductor if he could keep it in the bus for sometime. The guys said the bus will be empty till 11.30 am so yeah he could keep it. I truly wished we were more like him, the ability to trust people.
He joined us for breakfast. We saw a small cafe near the bus stand and over Momos, chow mein and hot chai, he spoke about himself. He was from Spain, and he tried his hand at many things, from working in a company to driving taxis to being a handyman. He was married twice and finally decided to pack up everything and travel with a purpose. He was working with Bitcoin currency and he was figuring out a way to use this bit coin network in rural areas, areas where it was most needed.
From Manali he was going to Nepal for 3 months to work on a project, to do something that would benefit people. His ideas were idealistic and yet there was a sincerity to it. We all live on hope for a better future don’t we?
Bhim put forth practical questions as Marcos was talking about Google as a search engine and how only information pervaded and no knowledge, he was talking about anonymous content that could help users get better information but as Bhim rightfully argued how could one verify authenticity? especially content coming anonymously? There was no security there.
It was hours of conversation, mostly coming from Marcos, a bundle of energy and constantly talking. Man, this guy was not tired. He had the look of someone who had seen life and so happy and enthusiastic. We moved our conversation outside the cafe, sitting on a small table and continuing.
He was as I see it now, a Social Sanyasi! Absorbing the world and yet not getting affected by it but attempting to make a social change in his own little way. An attractive man and pleasing demeanor, am sure he made friends as he went along. He spoke about his adventures in Kasol, Bir and Kheerganga trek he did. He loved India in it’s raw form, not the plastic world cities it was becoming in urban areas.
Just then a chunky guy said Hi to Marcos. This man’s name? Pasupathi! How do I describe him?Above Ankle high socks, a backpack, long shorts, checked T shirt, chunky glasses, in short he would stand out. He was from Bombay and I guess they met a few days ago in Kaza and he had to take a bus in the evening so he asked Marcos if he could hangout with him. So now we were four in all, an uncanny combination if you ask me, with our different experiences coming in together.
Over another round of Chais, we discussed entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs, equality, LSD, Ayahuasca, culture and GOD. Marcos travelled to South America, he backpacked across Amazon and stayed in Peru for a few months and we spoke of Shamanic rituals, his experience with L and how he felt. He was like a kid recalling his experiences. Pasupathi would pitch in his views hesitantly making sure no one got offended. He was a lone backpacker although I felt he was craving for company. He seemed like someone who didn’t make friends easily, an introvert. His mother was from Gokharna so he was half Kannadiga. I have no idea how time passed by, it was past noon when we checked the time.
We reminded Marcos to get his backpack from the bus. We asked the cafe owners if we could keep our backpacks till we took our bus at 5 pm. We wanted to visit the monastery nearby. The owners with their small space could have easily said No, there was room only for 4 tables in that space. With their big hearts they agreed and we kept it in a corner and thanked them. Saying bye to Marcos and Pasupathi, we made our way to the monastery.
Besides the village visit tonight, we had to figure out if we wanted to come back to Kaza tomorrow to go to Chandratal the day after. But somehow something was not feeling right, we were not sure yet where we would be. So keeping that aside for the moment, we went to the monastery.
It was a beautiful one at the top of the town. One could get a view of Kaza from the monastery. The main altar door was closed so we sat at the steps, we had 4 more hours to go so what better way than to spend our time here? As we settled in, who walks in again but Marcos and Pasupathi! In the end, we all had to see each other again 😊
One of the monks saw us and kindly opened the main altar room for us. It was a break for them and yet they graciously let us in. We walked inside fascinated by the aesthetics, the numerous idols, the artwork . Marcos forgot his Camera Tripod in Key Monastery. He would have to go back to Key this evening and get it back. Pasupathi said he would join him.
I remember the next 4 hours went just like that, intense deep conversations about GOD, the concept of GOD, the Upanishads and Shasthras, while Marcos spoke about the concept of Christianity he grew up with and how he moved away from it. Everybody added their bit to it. Bhim came out with some excellent points about the existence of God, of supreme consciousness. I remember Marcos saying If I don’t see it, I don’t believe it. I realised how different we thought as Indians, we ‘felt it’, not everything was about seeing it. And plus the debate between Science and Philosophy, Facts vs Universal truth. It was fascinating.
That rainy drizzly afternoon, four persons with different experiences, different thought process came together in a place like Spiti. This to me is a perfect example of experiences. If we didn’t backpack, if we didn’t travel the way we did, if we didn’t open up, we would have not met a person like Marcos. As we later recalled, if not for him what would we have done the whole day. Nothing is a coincidence.
It was truly time to say goodbye to them. Marcos called Key monastery and the monks said they would search for his tripod and send it by taxi to Kaza that evening. I don’t have words for this. Does it happen anywhere else?
We made our way out and on the way decided to check out some homestays. By the looks of it being a commercial town, everything was priced a little higher. We looked up a homestay and took their contact numbers. As we were walking in the bylanes I saw a cafe by Ecosphere. This was started by Ishita Khanna, who through Ecosphere preserved the local culture and promoted local employment in Spiti Valley. I told Bhim that we could check if they had rooms.
As I walked in, I turned to my left and I got shocked! I saw Deepti, a fellow backpacker whom I met while backpacking in Meghalaya in January!What were the chances of bumping into her here?? We had an amazing time in Meghalaya and I had tagged along with her and her friends to Guwahati, you can read about her in my blogs on Meghalaya. I screamed in delight!
We hugged big and chatted for a while. She was backpacking across Himachal for the past 25 days with a couple of friends. She finished Sar Pass trek, then went to Bhutan, now it was a short trip in Spiti then they were going to Rishikesh followed by Valley of Flowers. This woman travelled 8 months in a year and people tell me I travel a lot!
It was time to go so giving a big hug to her, we left. Now when I think of it, I was meant to enter into that cafe and meet her.
We thanked the cafe owner as we took our backpacks and placed it in the bus. Now we didn’t know where all the bus stopped. Bhim went out to get some Bananas as we didn’t have lunch so I asked the locals sitting in the bus about the route.
Talking to them it dawned on me that the three villages were in a triangle route. So the bus would stop first at Langza, then Komick – the highest point and would finally stop at Hikkim. So I asked them if there were homestays, they nodded Yes. These villages could be done by walking so it made more sense to stay at Komick and then walk down, descend towards the other two villages. If we stayed at Langza, we would have a tough uphill climb. When I told this to Bhim, he smiled and we said in unison, Komick it is then!
Yup folks, just like that, we decided to stay at Komick ignoring everyone’s suggestion. So far we were not following any route prescribed by backpackers, bloggers, guides so why not this? We were excited by the prospect of having to stay in Komick.
I was chatting with a pretty young girl Sonam who was asking me questions while eating a mango. I showed her the pictures I took of Key and Kibber. She lived in Langza and she was travelling on her own from Kaza. Barely 11 years old she was already independent.
The bus was near empty so we had a seat to ourselves. We were so excited with this detour. We had no clue about Komick and how it would be. The bus started it’s journey and the roads became more rough and narrow. This was a terrain not frequented much. As usual the bus driver impressed us with his driving skills, every turn meant the bus would perch itself narrowly on the cliff and move. The fear was no longer there, we got used to it.
This was a different landscape, more isolated, it had an enigmatic quality to it. Something magical, the mountains showed different shades of grey and blue and it went like a flow. Sitting in the bus I felt incredibly lucky to be here, to be so blessed, to experiencing it.
The bus stopped at Langza and we saw patches of green with tiny hamlets with a huge 1000 feet statue of the sitting Buddha, this was the landmark for the village. The bus made it’s way to Komick, way up.
As we gained altitude, the air got very chilly as we layered up. Finally when we reached the village, a few of us got down. Very few homes, an old monastery and a smiling young guy greeting us. We asked Chai? He said Yes! Come in!
Komick at almost 15,000 feet. To be continued..