After delaying for sometime, I have finally started writing my Spiti trip account. This time, I thought I will record it one day at a time. There are two reasons for this, first, if done at one go, the post becomes too long. And two, there are no travel plans for a long time now, as July is the more heavy semester for me, so I have to make do with my past travels for a long time.
I still very clear remember my excitement that Friday when we were about to head to Kaza. I had taken care of all the office work by Thursday and I was really restless on that Friday, it felt like 3.00 pm will never come. Even indulging in my favorite sport of teasing my colleagues who were not taking a vacation brought little respite.
We hired a taxi to ISBT and left home by 4.30, hoping to reach Manali early in the morning. Dilip (my nephew) asked the cab driver to put a ‘Deep Purple’ cassette on the player and that is what I listened all the way to ISBT. I keep asking him why he likes to listen to Ghara Bagnee (that is Deep Purple in Hindi) and he acts irritated and makes cute faces.
After reaching ISBT we had two options, to take an ordinary bus leaving immediately (5.30 pm) and reach Manali by 9.30 in the morning or to take a deluxe bus that started at 8.30 at the night. Dilip and Sesha dumped their rucksacks and said they will go and get the 8.30 bus tickets. I sat down with my novel guarding the rucksacks and waiting for their return.
When these two returned after 15 minutes they had a completely new plan! They wanted to take a private bus at 6.00 pm that would reach Manali at 6.00 in the morning. I was not at all keen but I was outvoted by two to one.
We walked with the private agent to the bus. It was a sleeper bus but we had normal push back seats. The bus did not move at all by six. I had started grumbling but then I did not want to spoil everybody’s mood by doing so excessively. The bus started moving at 6.45 and just kept on going from here to there to pick up more passengers within Delhi. At 8.30 in the night it came back to same place from where we had started! By this time we all had realized that we were in for a very long trip to Manali.
By 9.30 at night we were still at the outskirts of Delhi. The bus would stop every 5 minutes and wait for passengers as they still had a few vacant seats. Many people inside were really getting desperate and vocal by now. Some shouted that they were given the starting time of 4.30 pm and yet at 10 in night we were still barely outside Delhi.
Anyway, around 10 at night, the bus finally started moving and by 11.30 we were at Karnal and stopped for dinner. After that, I feel asleep, hoping that we would wake up in Manali.
At around 3.30 at night the bus had a flat tire. We got out and thankfully the weather was pleasant, with lot of lightening. Meanwhile, they were trying to change the tire and after 25 minutes of struggling, they decided they have to move the bus a little ahead as it was standing on a slope and that was causing problems. We were somewhere in Punjab and still very far away from Manali. When we started off sometime later we were just not sure of anything anymore. The bus made a few more unscheduled stops for reasons best understood to the driver and the conductor only.
We finally reached Manali at 2.00 in the afternoon, completely exhausted and 20 hours after we had boarded the bus for a journey that takes 15 hours at the most. Sesha tried to make it up to us by finding a big lavish room in a comparatively expensive hotel without any such demands from our side.
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