First things first, I promise not to bore you with any more narratives of how I got stuck at the Rohtang Pass when trying to make my way from Manali to Leh- across the Himalayas. I have said much already about how a combination of incessant rains, landslides and just sheer bad luck conspired to make us spend over 30 hours on a very narrow patch of road overlooking steep mountainsides in dirt roads that turned into swamps. I also mentioned that we eventually conceded defeat and made our way back to Manali on day 2 and that we eventually returned to Rohtang Pass to try our luck at crossing the Pass on day 3. The only reason for us to even return to the Pass despite the traumatic events of the previous days was that there was no other way into Ladakh. Well there was one other, but that was through the path of Cirith Ungol where we would have Shelob waiting for us- NOT!!! (Kidding- for those of you who completely missed the joke, do read The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien). Seriously though, there was one other way into Ladakh but that would have us make our way to Srinagar and then get by the road into Leh which would have got me to Leh right in time to take the flight back to Delhi (we were flying back you see- ha!)
So there we were – a bit battered but ever so keen on getting across to the other side of those tall mountains. The denizens of the rest stop town of Marhi pointed in our direction and chatted in hushed voices (“These people were here yesterday and the day before!” “Oh yeah? We may be here tomorrow as well for all you know”) This was not helped by our driver who wanted to share with the entire world his experience of getting stuck overnight at the Rohtang Pass. Did I mention that out of all the people in the car he was the only one who had managed to somehow smuggle in a very comfortable blanket into which he snuggled in and slept until 7 in the morning. And all we could do was look at him enviously and try to wake him up. He had resolutely refused to stir until there was any chance of getting out. His motto in life was to be prepared- a previous experience of getting stuck in a similar situation for 7 days (we felt he exaggerated a little too much but who were we to judge him- he was the one with the blanket!). So anyway we made our way up the mountain- the traffic did seem to be moving slightly faster and our hopes immediately went up only to be dashed again when everything came to a standstill. But we were in a better frame of mind and more prepared so each one of us went back to doing what we did best- some went hunting for pictures of Griffons (and there were a few. Here I was thinking they existed only in Alice in Wonderland but that was a Gryphon), some went to help the local tea vendors in preparing tea and maggi noodles for the roaring clientele (this was our driver- he was an amazing person, when not driving the car he a) slept or b) multi-tasked as a chef in the tea stalls or c) narrated his adventures of the harrowing night when he was caught at the Pass), and some settled down to read a book (me if you didn’t already know). I started off with my first Terry Pratchett book- The Colour of Magic and I read and I read and I read. By the time we finally got to first position in the queue to take off I had finished the book. All 200 odd pages of it (and it was fun too!). There was only one problem- I still had about 10 days of the trip and had run out of books. Oh and we were still on the wrong side of the Himalayas.
Eventually as they say things come to those who wait and I think we had waited quite long. We finally made our way across the pass. In order to celebrate the event I made a video of the last few minutes of the road leading to the pass. Enjoy!
(Don’t blame me if the video gives you a headache and oh in the first few seconds of the video I’m zooming out so it looks especially dizzying- My bad completely!)