(you might need: Flash)
Apparently the lovely Neil Diamond is way popular with the modern older crowd here in
Otherwise, not much to report with this update but it’s likely that I’ll ramble on about stuff that gets more and more interesting the farther down you read.
The biggest difference between where I was the last time I updated this blog, and where I am now, is that those two place are, in fact, different places. They are about as different as the coastal city of
Big Mountains! Deep valleys! Snow! Rain! Sun! Indians! Festivals! Sweets! The Backstreet Boys? Cheese? Hippies? Heliskiing? ---This place is like absolutely like nowhere else in
In the far reaches of
Manali: (that word is hyperlinked, by-the-way, to the Wikipedia entry of the same title) Let’s read it…
…Hmm, well that’s was interesting (the link to charas has its merits as well. More on that later) (It should also be noted that the link to Yak Skiing is an entry about a friend of mine featured in various bicycling and hiking pictures below.)(That reminds me, I need add his contact info to Wiki…There now you can go Yak Skiing any time you’re here, just call up Peter). And a pretty good summary. Now, for an irresponsibly fearless act of possibly contradicting the information in the supplied Manali link, let’s continue with a run-down of the area…
One little absence from that summery is the mention of Hadimba’s temple and what it stands for. It stands for the purpose of enclosing a cave and trapping inside the devil. Cool! Well, a goddess who used to be a devil, until a Hindu god tired of her mucking about with his livelihood, married her, and turned her to the good side (watch out devils for all those shyster gods!). Ask anybody who’s not in the tourist industry and they’ll tell you that this devil-turned-goddess still watches over, and so influences, the valley in all sorts of peculiar ways. That may go a long way to explaining why people here are a little nutty and why the
Manali (and the greater
1. Winter: the, like-all-the-other-Himalayan-villages, season. Not many extras are here, and the locals act like regular Indians.
The winters are blisteringly cold - the general lack of respectable heating systems see to that - but the snow piles up and those who love it come to build snow men (and ski). Helicopters access the higher peaks and provide 1000’s of vertical feet of powder skiing on massive mountains. Others prefer to hike/tour the mountains and forgo the $1000/day/person price tag of the helicopter expeditions. Nearly all of these people are wacky foreigners. The Indian crowd takes the more sane approach (though perceptively much more boring and exceedingly uncomfortable approach) of enrolling in a two-week government run ski course on a sad little slope with no functioning lift and withering enthusiasm.
Gosh, it was FEBRUARY when I first started the blog entry you’re reading now. I started this blog entry the day I arrived here in the valley; it began something like this…
(Though I don’t intend to maintain any chronological tradition.)
Let me mention one of many peculiar elements of my situation considering the current circumstances: I am typing on my laptop computer. It is an unexpected place to be doing such things; up here at 9000ft, protected from the snow by thin wooden walls, and so far away from civilization and civilized insulation, but there you go…
While in Mumbai, I was invited here to the mountains by the Himalayan Ski Village for the purpose of my contributing, in some way, to the project. I didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately I packed my snow boots, a down sleeping bag, and my PADI scuba diving card because immediately it was suggested that I join the research team high up on the mountain. The route up was part thesaurus-entry-for-rough jeep ride, and part hike. We made our way to the small
Perched on a toeclinchingly steep mountainside, this village clusters from about fifteen wooden buildings/huts/shacks all connected by snow-gone-ice walkways sculpted in design to offset the balance of anyone wanting to use them. Though the village is deserted for the winter, I am surprised to be given my own spacious room about twice the size, and happily far less cluttered, then that which I have in the city. The differences between my city room and this one are subtle: the wooden floor and bed, a fireplace in the middle of the room (which I am too frightened to use for fear of the fire spreading or death by asphyxiation.), a ceiling to bonk the heads of short people like me on, and a general “it’s too cold to do anything” mentality that I’m settling in to. In the common-house a cook prepares all of our (unbelievably tasty) meals and keeps a fire burning wonderfully warm. After a long high-altitude day on the snow, both the food and the warmth are magical.
I didn’t have a camera then, but I do now, here’s a picture of the village a few weeks ago on a bewitching spring afternoon. Near here is also the site planned to build the mountain lodge of the ski village.