Thursday, 1 March 2012

She' ll be coming round the mountain when she comes !!

Arrived in Delhi in the middle of the afternoon, the taxi driver gave us a quick tour, the Presidents Palace, The Gateway to India, the Red Fort and Gandhi's cremation site. At the Presidents Palace Dennis dropped my camera !! Needless to say it stopped working after that. I am convinced that the Universe wants me to move on, it is definitely closing doors this time. When we eventually got to our hotel it was a really nice one. By this time I was exhausted so Dennis and Chhewang got a Ricksaw downtown so that they could get me a new camera.  We decided to eat in the hotel- which was vegetarian and also ' dry'. It tickled the boys to see me drink Coke. Next morning we were up at 4am to drive to Kolkan to catch the Himilayan train at 12.10 !!  The train and carriages looked all of its 100 years, our seats were very basic and small. We could only just squeeze on. and you rubbed knees with the couple sitting opposite you. There was nowhere for luggage so it was all piled up around us completely blocking the limited space to the toilet, which you really wouldnt want to use anyhow. There were 30 people in each carriage and we were the only Europeans in ours. The rest were a mixture of Indian's. As soon as the train started they all began to get out their picnics and continued to eat over the five hours it took the train to travel up the mountains and into Shimla. We had three stops of about 10 minutes which gave the Indians chance to re stock their picnics from dodgy looking vendors and us a chance to stretch our legs and let the blood flow back to our bottoms, which were getting more numb by the minute. At one stop I had to relent and go to the toilet. I ended up with a couple of American women peering into the ' First class ladies toilet'  with the usual dread and apprehension. I would guess that knowing the train was due in the toilet attendant had decided to make it smell nice and had thrown a pail of disinfectant all across the floor. Whilst they were gasping and gagging I decided someone had to show some gungho spirit and I calmly paddled through the water and into the toilet. We Brits are made of stern stuff- afterall we were responsible for the railway in the first place. Duly relieved I left them still pondering, moments later the whistle blew telling us all to get back on the train. I like to think the ladies are still there, standing with their legs crossed and pinching their noses.
The scenery from the train was stunning and you could see the various tunnels and bridges across the mountain.  You take loads of photos the first couple of hours , the second couple of hours you begin to tire of this and the Indians all fell asleep. Our bottoms became our proccupation as we shuffled from one numb cheek to the other. At last we arrived in Shimla after 13 hours of travelling. I was really pleased to see the 93 year old porter that had featured in the TV program and took a photo of him, wished I could have gotten his autograph.
Then Cheewang told us our accomodation would be basic for tonight but tomorrow he would sort out a better hotel. That was a red flag to a bull moment.  It was cold in Shimla, we had travelled for hours, my throat was really sore, my stomach was suffering from a paratha we had eaten in a dubious cafe earlier and I was looking forward to a nice bed. So in my best Diva mode I put my foot down, supported wholeheartedly by Dennis who was feeling pretty much the same. So after a hike up loads of steps into Shimla we got a room at one of the best hotels. With central heating. We had a meal and then I fell into bed and was asleep in minutes. Woke up at 4am with a burning throat, it felt as though it was closing up and a banging headache. Took pills and got back to sleep. This morning Dennis went out with Chhewang and his Uncle whilst I stayed in bed resting up. This afternoon whilst changing some travel cheques we met a pharmacist who is coming to the UK in September to work in his friends jewellery shop, he wrote me a prescription for some antibiotics which we were able to buy in the local pharmarcy so hopefully these will clear my throat up. Got to see a little of Shimla and hopefully feel better enough to see a lot more tomorrow as it is very pretty.
Then Chhewang told us he has spoken to Menri monastery and that they are not allowed to have any guests stay there during Loshar. Apparently the government is involved and its to do with the present Tibetan situation. I have emailed Chongtul to see if he can confirm this. So our stay in Menri looks dubious. We may have to stay in Solan and get a taxi over to Menri and just stay for the day. This is a major disappointment but theres nothing we can do, at least I will get to visit. Again I cant help thinking the Universe is closing the door. Have faith though because when one door closes another opens .....

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