I woke up fresh with a fantastic view of the hills from the window. Bhim was still sleeping so I made myself comfortable in the balcony, put my legs up and looked at the view in front of me. The clouds, the mist, the dew everything made Mcleodganj enigmatic.
There was something here. In it’s chaos was complete silence, the people were not yet totally corrupted. A big factor might have been His Holiness Dalai Lama’s presence and teachings. It seemed like his energy and blessings were on Mcleodganj. The Buddhist teachings, the people who practiced it made this place much more than just another pretty hill station. His benevolence was felt in every way.
Bhim woke up and joined in. We kept looking in silence, then chatting for a while. Did we have to rush out? We could spend a whole day just being here watching the dance of the clouds, the lush green trees and the misty mountains. We ordered Chai( tea) and sat there.
We decided to have a late breakfast at Vishal’s shop then walk to Dharamkot. Then later we would see what to do. Past 10.30 am, Vishal messaged saying he was at the shop so we got ready and made our way up.
Let me tell you if you haven’t read my previous blogs on Mcleodganj. The hotel we stayed in was way down below, we had to walk a total of 100 steps one way to reach the road, we would do that 2-3 times a day. We huffed our way up and finally reached his shop. We just about sat down when customers started flowing in.
The way he was doing his job is what I call Shraddha- meaning putting in his positive energies completely. He liked what he did, he believed in what he did and he did it with sincerity. Making the puris, cooking the Channa curry, washing the vessels, talking to customers in a gentle way and giving us company.
I will ask you a question, have you ever seen anyone in recent times doing anything with Shraddha? Have you seen yourself doing that? If you are honest, truly honest the answer will be No. Doing multiple things, work, job, running, playing music,photography anything that you see nowadays is for showing off. To get accolades, praises and more so in today’s social media. To see Shraddha is to experience it, to feel it and I saw that in Vishal.
He was handling a group of impatient Sardarjis, 4-5 guys, some others and us in a soft and polite manner. We sat for a couple of hours almost till noon. We told him to keep himself free for dinner. He had to ask permission from his Bhaiya( big brother) to come out earlier.
We got out to Dharamkot, a long uphill ascent for just 2 kms but will take your breath away. It’s just up and up! But that breathless walk was worth it, it was raining, a drizzle and with it comes the fog. It was breathtaking.
We would stop, take a breath, then look around at the magical Deodar trees surrounded by fog and mist and we would feel fresh again. This was the Mcleodganj I wanted Bhim to see. The deodar trees with the mist was other worldly. I could never imagine not visiting Mcleodganj again. This was a place I would keep visiting till the end of my life..
We were almost reaching. Dharamkot for long was known for it’s hippie culture. Filled with foreigners, mostly Israelis you would think you are in Israel, all the boards were written in Hebrew and the food served strictly catering to foreigners.
But with good comes bad, the last time I went there I was totally unimpressed, disappointed even. If freedom means only taking drugs and escaping from life, that’s what it’s not. Most of them settled there, staying for 6 months to a year, some of them in squalor, the women marrying locals and with some money coming in, the local men starting their own travel business. But it also meant they would become drug suppliers, getting ‘goods’ for the innumerable foreigners coming from all over the world.
This is a hard fact but I have to write this. In places like Kullu, Manali, Dharamkot the places were filled with Israelis getting drugs. I saw it in Ladakh, I saw it in Dharamkot and yes in Hampi. It’s sad when they corrupt the locals. Their innocence is gone when they know there is a ‘different way’ to earn money, hard and fast. The cheapest place for them to travel is India and especially in the mountains, the access is easy.
As we walked through the village, I saw it had become worse. We felt like aliens as locals gave us hostile looks, we didn’t belong here, it belonged to the foreigners. Signboards in Hebrew and Russian. We saw that most of them were hazed out. Shady huts that called themselves ‘cafes’ with super dark lighting. Bhim was disgusted by it all. He felt the same. And in the name of Yoga we saw exploitation. ‘Forest Yoga, Sensual Yoga, A guy claiming to clear all your Chakras yoga’ It was sheer bullshit.
Bhim said only one thing, I don’t want to spend a single penny in this dump. Truly we didn’t want to. Dharamkot was like a ramshackle, a concrete mess. The last time I was here, I could cross Dharamkot and sit on a beautiful hill. I remember having chai there, now even that too was covered by concrete.
We wanted to get out of this place. The only thing good was that on the way we saw a Rajasthani street musician couple singing and we spent time there, other than that nothing else. As we started our walk towards Mcleodganj it started raining, the road was a mess so slipping and sliding we made our way down.
It was too late for lunch so I took Bhim to this nice small cafe near Dalai Lama temple. We had cold coffees and kept laughing and laughing. One doesn’t require a reason to laugh right? 😁
After sometime we came back to the hotel and relaxed. It was raining hard now and the first thing that came to our mind was Pakodas! So we ordered pakodas and chai and sitting in that balcony.. Aaaaaahhhhh!!
I realised this is such an Indian thing. Rain to us is romance, bliss, a new season of freshness, washing away the old and bringing in the new. We have songs and poems in praises of the rain. Ask any Indian about rains and out comes that smile 😊 I consider this a privilege, only we know what it does to us.
Later in the evening we met Vishal for pizza at a popular Italian joint. Over Pizzas we spoke, we laughed and Vishal was getting very emotional about it. He said nowadays no one cares about others anymore, no one gives respect anymore. What he didn’t understand was that it was a privilege for us to know him, to having met a rare guy like him. It was our honour totally to be with him.
Over garlic bread, soup and pizzas we made a plan for the next day. Vishal was taking a day off tomorrow. He said we would visit Dharamsala the whole day. We would go to temples, do some sight seeing and see Dharamsala not seen by tourists. We told him as long as we spent time with him, we didn’t care what we did.
We got some beers and got Vishal to the room. Sitting in the balcony, we had a wonderful time drinking with him looking at the lights all over the hills of Mcleodganj.
Like a good son, he called his mum to say he was coming late today. His father passed away just a year ago and I could see that pain and sadness flashing in him from time to time.
After some time he made his way home, we told him to message us once he reached. We would meet him tomorrow around 10 am.
After he left we just sat there. It was a good day wasn’t it?
To be continued.. 💕💕