This is not a travelogue of an experienced traveler. This is an expression of an amateur adventurer who left on an overnight Volvo to a surreal valley in Himachal, Old Manali. My fellow travellers were numbered, we were three females from the country’s capital looking for a week long escape into a world without concrete, without pollution and most importantly – low network services.
Being a small group of female travelers, the rituals during the days leading up to our trip were rather strenuous. Societal norms, our overly possessive parents and our in-built pessimistic fear of what’s to come coupled with the fact that neither of us had travelled without our male friends or family members seemed to cross our minds now and then. But we were determined, as determined as young adults looking to tread along their own path are. And that’s a whole lot of determination put together when there’s three adrenaline seeking, life loving, enthused individuals going on a trip together.
We ended up discovering a lot more than the place. 25th March, 7 PM, the streets running past the Kashmere Gate metro station in Delhi are bustling. After a 45 minute journey to our bus station across the road, we caught a glance of our chariot. The Himalayan Nomad. The next 15.5 hours were spent streaming Wild Wild Country on Netflix, listening to the neighbors’ snores and munching on our goodies. We even rationed our water intake for the fear of an untrustworthy bladder. I barely had shut eye for more than 3-4 hours, the giddy feeling in my stomach was trying to signal an adventure. And we were more than ready for it.
We reached the Private Bus Parking at 10 AM, and took a cab to our Bag packing hostel called ‘YOLO Bagpackers’ located in Old Manali. At the hostel, the people were friendly to the extent of not being over bearing. That’s the beauty about the humans in Manali, they will be warm to you because of their own personal contentment. They care little about business, little about worldly treasures, and more about actually living the life us city kids always yearn to have. The man with all the tricks up his sleeves, he cooked and cleaned for the entire hostel – our man Ajju, escorted us to the room. We also had the sweetest furry friends to welcome us, Bhaalu (he sure looked like one) and Ludo. I would recommend the hostel to anyone who isn’t too fussy about their bedding, is looking for cheap accommodation, a party at 10 Am and overflowing Ginger lemon honey tea. Our hostel was a haven to retire at each day.