13th Jan 2015
Photo of ROAD RUSH 1/2 by Rhucha Kulkarni
Photo of ROAD RUSH 2/2 by Rhucha Kulkarni


Sometimes you get help where least expected! And knowing your co-passengers can make life so much easier! As with any backpacker, had kept Pathankot -> Dalhousie open ended and so came to the rescue who else but our friends from Kangra. While they were headed home, they dropped me to the bus stop, giving me elaborate instructions on which bus to board. And so I landed with a backpack awaiting the next public bus to Dalhousie. With every bus that halted, I would lug my baggage to the conductor,. An hour passed while I was tanning myself on the roadside when ‘’the one’ arrived and to my delight I found a seat next to a lady. And so began a 3 hour journey with the rickety bus stopping at every point and hoards of locals boarding and alighting. There is one golden rule I believe in – When in Rome, do as the Romans do.. So in a jiffy my vocab turned from “tereko mereko” to “aap and ji”. I also altered my apprearance by draping a stole over my head. Hence any unwarrant attention dissuaded, I settled down to feel the breeze in my face and get lost in a train of thoughts and happiness. 
Riding on public transport has its pros and cons and I believe post this trip, that if you have time in hand, pros definitely outweigh the cons. I observed the village banter amongst the locals, their peculiar dress sense and what not – these gave me an insight into the simplistic lives of the HImachalis. In fact it opens your eyes to the real India, and for a moment I saw myself wondering “Do I really have anything to complain about?But ultimately – to each his own. Landscapes changed, from the plains of Punjab to coniferous slopes of Himachal. And so did the people. From balle- balle Sikhs to cap-clad Pahadis. Two states as neighbours, yet so different. I enjoyed the whiff of freshness drifting in through the window as the bus huffed and puffed while ascending slopes. Thus arrived Banikhet – a sleepy little town on the lower slopes of Dalhousie. Alighted and chugged my backpack 5 min away to arrive at my destination – YHA. 
A middle aged couple greeted me, took one look at me and the fact that I was alone and provided me shelter not in the guest house but in their own daughters room! Kindness overflowing!! That’s the kind of emotions a lone girl traveller may evoke with the right people. So upstairs I went, (feeling a tad guilty for having displaced their daughter from her very own room) The winter chill was setting in and I intended to pack myself well, the cold extra sensitive person that I am ! A cup of piping tea definitely aided that! We sat talking for some time, me trying to explain to them as to why I was alone, they trying to fathom the fact. Dinner with garma-garam homemade food which I jubilantly shared with their daughter as we got chatting till into the night – asking her about people, places. Staying with the locals definitely gives you an extra insight that you cannot get by staying even in 5 star hotels. It opens so many doors as you realise that people much kinder and concerned than they are thought to be! 
Why else would someone open the doors of their home to a girl tripping solo who they barely knew? That night I slept like a baby, a culmination of the silent night, warm blankets and warmer hospitality extended by the guest house owners. 

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