so it was over that absolutely super jap dinner that we decided to hire a jeep to spiti instead of taking the direct 15hr bone-rattling bus...this way we'd get to be on our own, stop wherever we felt like, choose our pace n most importantly, be able to go up to the magical chandra tal...the next day it pissed down like it does in bombay n the big joke around town was that these bumbaiyas have brought crazy amounts of rain with them...not funny at all, we weren't able to go around manali or walk up to the vashist springs :(so cafe phuntsook once again provided much solace with her consistent roasties...grated boiled potatoes, extravagant amounts of grated cheese n garlic and stuffing of either spinach, tuna or chicken!...yummm...got to crack how to make this at home. mercifully, it didn't rain at night n we left the next morning.
manali to spiti is a mere 200kms...but nothing could've prepared us for the mind-boggling continuously changing landscape. but more about that later...the take2 drive up was completely different from our earlier trip up...it had rained, the roads were a mess n there were more delays...it was around this time that sur called from bombay in panic...the road from keylong to baralach-la has been closed thanks to heavy snowfall, hundreds of tourists have been stranded, so guys, pls don't go! luckily for us, we need to turn right before keylong n the road there is open...more delays?
but it hardly mattered this time round...we didn't have to reach anywhere at any particular time...we had just begun our journey!...it reminded me somehow of robert pirsig's 'zen and the art of motorcycle maintanence'..."and what is good, phaedrus, and what is not good - need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" fresh snow!...of course!! wow! so much of it...just the other day it was all dry n barren...amazing!...once again steered clear of the honeymooner hordes went ahead n went berserk into the snow!...but right up at the pass, bihari labour!!i mean, far from the bowels of their coalmines, here they were in sub-zero temperatures, eating their sabzi-roti unmindful of the apparent incongruence...we drive on, our driver -naresh, patiently stopping for photos...like this oneit is bad enough doing it on motorbikes, but we encountered couples on bicycles on roads like these!! riding all the way from shimla to spiti to ladakh! loco! complete madness! moments after i took this pic, the guy skidded n i ran to help him up n pushed him back onto the road...from here on, we had the river chandra for company all through the lahaul valley.