The Journey to Manali

The journey to Manali may be a little tedious but nothing extraordinary. We started from home at 4.00 pm from Gurgaon for Vidhan Sabha metro station. Chhavi, my neighbor, her daughter and I were traveling to Manali from Delhi. I usually book tickets on Manali Mail but I could not get any tickets this time. So, I went with Indo-Canadian.

When we reached Majnu ka Tila, one of the pickup points in Delhi, there were at least 10 Indo-Canadian buses. My ticket mentioned a time but no bus number. No one picked up the phone on the number provided in the email. The people in the first Indo-Canadian bus coolly told us, “Your bus has already left.” I have traveled way too many times on this route to pay them any attention. But that is how the supposedly premium bus service operators deal with you.

We walked a little ahead and one Indo-Canadian bus agreed that we could board it. What I figured out is that there are many buses of the same company leaving one after the other. You could board any bus that you could muscle in.

Once we were inside the bus, the air-conditioning was a welcome relief from the Delhi heat. The kids settled down next to each-other. They had a gala time till they could keep their eyes open. Once they were sleepy they wanted to go back to their own seats next to their mothers!

We had a late dinner at Rajpura at 11.30 pm. Chhavi and I had half an Avomine, the anti-nausea medicine after it. After that we slept for the most of the journey. We reached Chandigarh in the dead of the night. The people boarding said the bus was 2 hours late by now. Even though I was sleepy, I realized that the bus kept standing at their Chandigarh office for a long time. That did not auger well for an early arrival at Manali.

When I woke up next, at 6.30 am, the bus was moving next to the beautiful Beas River. That made me hopeful. But when we went through the Aut Tunnel in the next few minutes, my heart sank. That meant we were still a long way from Manali.

We still made reasonable time. But just before entering Manali we hit a traffic jam. Chhavi was already restless. She kept telling me she was hungry because she had a packet of chips with her that my neighbor bought. I was a bit scared as she has vomited in the past after eating chips in journeys. So I told her she can’t eat chips.

About half a kilometer before the private bus stand we decided to get out as walking would be faster than just sitting in the traffic jam. I have always been able to get an auto in the past after walking a short distance. There was so much traffic all around, even walking was a pain. There was not a vacant auto in sight. In the end we walked all the way to mall road and the main bus stand. The kids walked eating chips, I gave in after all.

local-bus-manali-journey
The Local Bus to Jagatsukh

We got into a local bus to Jagatsukh, which is at a distance of 6 km. I was thinking that we would be soon home now. It was past 1.00 pm. We didn’t get any breakfast. But there was a huge traffic jam to get out of Manali as well. It took us more than 40 minutes to get out of the jam and get on the way to Jagatsukh.

In those 40 minutes the kids were truly downcast and restless. There were six foreigners sitting in the same bus going to Naggar. But once the bus was out of the jam after like forever, the driver accelerated and for the kids it became a joy ride! The foreigners would get equally surprised by the twist and turns of the bus!

The person sitting next to the kids asked about their vacation plan. They happily chimed about their trekking plans.

apples-himalayas
The Apples and the Mountains

Once I reached Ramakant ji’s home, all my tiredness vanished after seeing his apple tree and the mighty Dhaulahdar beyond it. If everything goes according to the plan we are heading out on a kiddies trek tomorrow!

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Chhavi and I are back from Deoria Tal. It was one roller coaster ride from here to Deoria Tal and back. Traveling with a child makes it all the more fun and unpredictable. There are a lot of dos and don’t for my travels. A child makes them go haywire without even trying!

Traveling with a Child

Traveling with a Child

5. Avomine and Sleep: I have motion sickness on the mountain roads. Do you see the irony? I love mountains and yet to reach there either I puke or I take Avomine and get zonked on it. I miss out on the scenery completely while I am on the road! After taking the medicine I fall asleep and I wake up only when we are close to the destination. There were times when the cab driver had to wake me up saying you need to get down now! So my theory was that you cannot keep awake after taking Avomine. It took a child to prove the theory wrong! This time even after taking the anti-nausea medicine I was wide awake most of the time because I had to make sure that Chhavi was comfortable. While coming back from Deoria Tal to Haridwar I didn’t sleep a wink and that is a personal record. This was the first time I could see some of the views on the route. There are unexpected benefits of traveling with a child!

Walking Downhill

Chhavi Walking Downhill with our Guide Sohan Singh Bisht

4. Shelling Out Money: We started from Deoria Tal on foot. After walking downhill for 3 km we reached Sari village. Chhavi walked down for most of the way. It was for less than half a kilometer that Sohan Singh ji carried her down. Then we took a booked jeep to Ukhimath, after that a shared jeep to Rudraprayag. Then we said bye to Sohan Singh ji who was going to Joshimath. We boarded a bus to Haridwar but realized it was going up to Srinagar (there is one in Uttarakhand too) only. Then we took a bus to Haridwar. We started at 8.00 am and reached Haridwar at 8.00 pm. Imagine doing that with a 6 year old! It is my motto to do budget travel (unless invited!) but I broke it this time. I asked for the phone number of Country Inn and Suites at Haridwar from my sister. Then I called them and asked if they had a room? When the reply was affirmative I told them to hold a room for me. I spent on the room, food and cab to the railway station in one night what I did on the entire trek! But Chhavi was so tired that I didn’t want to get down at the dark bus station in Haridwar and search for a reasonable budget hotel. She loved the room and I think once in a while it is OK to break my cardinal rules!

Sari Village near Deoriatal, Uttarakhand

Sari Village at Dusk, Uttarakhand

3. Chhavi and Motion Sickness: We have taken Chhavi to the hills many times before. She never felt motion sickness. So we assumed that she is lucky she doesn’t get it. All our previous trips have been overnight where she slept like a log within no time. This time we were on the mountain roads during the day as well. On our way from Rishikesh to Rudraprayag she told me she felt like vomiting. I was quite surprised. Thankfully the bus stopped for breakfast soon after and I gave her less than half an Avomine. The bus started and she vomited within no time. You know how bad it feels when kids become unwell. She had vomited the Avomine too. But my little one slept after it. Thankfully we had an hour’s break at Rudraprayag where she settled down. I gave her less than half an Avomine again and she managed fine till Sari Village. There is one thing about Chhavi that makes traveling easy with her. When we are in a real crunch she will never trouble me. But give her a nice seat in an AC coach and she will be up to a thousand pranks!

Chhavi Making Paratha at Deoriatal

2. Making Parathas at the Tea Shop in Deoriatal: The young boy running the canteen invited Chhavi to sit near the fire in the morning as it was cold. She wanted to help in preparing the breakfast. And they gave her an opportunity to roll out the parathas. I was surprised how well she did it! The boy actually used her creation to make the breakfast!

Chhavi Selling Tickets to Haridwar!

1. Selling Bus Tickets to Haridwar: When we boarded a bus at Srinagar which would take us to Haridwar, I was quite worried. It had already been a long day and we had 4 hours of bus journey still to complete. I bought two seats so that Chhavi sit in peace and sleep as well. She had other ideas. If you have traveled on Indian buses you know how conductors shout the name of the destination where the bus is headed to. Chhavi decided to join in and tried her hand at selling tickets to Haridwar! She took the conductor and me completely by surprise. You never know what will happen next when you travel with a child!

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Mridula Dwivedi

I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!

If you wish to collaborate with me, please check out my media kit. You can write to me at mridulablog@gmail.com

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