Finally after more than two weeks of travelling I’ve found a moment to put the never-ending stream of events into words. Like the phrase when it rains it pours entails, in that vain India has been a non-stop metaphorical monsoon of crazy events.
As per usual I had the traditional sleepless flight, my mind over-run with thoughts of my friends and family I had left behind and the adventures and challenges that most certainly lay ahead did not aid my body into sleep. As we arrived in the pressure cooker that is Delhi, the sauna like air, thick with pollution and humidity caught my British lungs off guard as the airport door slid open causing me to breath fast to catch my breath. We rapidly caught a taxi to Majnu Ka Tilla the Tibetan refugee settlement on the outskirts of Dehli to take the bus up to McLeod Ganj, as the taxi drove through Delhi I caught the reflection of myself in the wing-mirrors smiling like a child. However, this seemingly easy undertaking of getting a bus ticket was massively hampered by a Tibetan public holiday meaning that all shops, restaurants and crucially for us travel agents were closed. This resulted in a six hour wait in a prison like room in the back of someone’s restaurant, so that they wouldn’t get told of by authorities for opening on a public holiday.
The bus journey was certainly not the reward for a long journey and wait, quite the opposite. I failed in all attempts to snatch snippets of sleep as the bus hooted and honked its way through the 13 hours of twisty and forever bumpy roads up the Himalayas. With the threats of bandits, dodgy tummy and very argumentative fellow travellers the arrival in McLeod I was feeling not happy but relieved at reaching our final destination. However, the happiness soon came rushing back when I saw the huge smiling face of Fayaz Khan. I first met Fayaz over three years ago when I first arrived in McLeod as an innocent teen, it started off with me buying a chessboard from his shop and since that day Fayaz, his amazing wife Sahera and their ever mischievous son Shaayan have become my best friends and family in India. Now they run a truly unique and wonderful hotel called Akash which is to be my home for the next three months. The room I have is picture perfect with a desk that looks out at the misty mountains of the Himalayas. This view would make anyone struggling for inspiration fill to bursting with ideas and motivation, as it has me. However, relaxation is not always a guaranteed constant in this hilltop paradise. With Hayley suffering from an extreme bout of food poisoning resulting in a late night hospital visit and me suffering from tonsillitis on and off, means that some days have been quite a challenge. Regardless of the hurdles McLeod is as perfect as I remembered it, seeing all my old friends, eating at the amazing restaurants and seeing the Himalayas towering above me again has insured a constant smile on my face.
I must admit, however, that as heavy rain batters the roof above and lightening illuminates the room I am somewhat daunted by the adventures that lie ahead.