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Cello India.

INDIA | Tuesday, 28 October 2008 | Views [2783]

17/10/2008 - 02/11/2008

Cello India.

After Kheer Ganga, i feel that i have nothing more to say. Without a doubt the best 10 days of my year, everything now feels like a wind-down. For the simple reason that it is! I leave on the 3rd of November, bound again for Thailand to enjoy two weeks of beach and visit my old friend Claude before returning to Australia on the 16th or so. I do feel sad to be so near the end of my trip, but my plans for the future require me to return with at least some money... 4 and a half months has been a fantastic journey, and while i could quite easily continue travelling, there are things to be attended to in Oz. Plans are still hazy, but i may just end up living cheaply on the Gold Coast, learning to surf for the 2 months until Rainbow Serpernt. I figure if i vocalise it enough, and especially write it down, it may just happen. Here's hoping anyway..

We parted with the crew after a chillum, chai and cookie break on the walk back, us heading to Kalga again for the night (where we had stashed some of our unecessary belongings) and the others to Manikaran and Kasol. After another pleasant night in Kalga and some more chats with BJ, we walked to Barshani and jumped a bus to Kasol. I think i must have become fitter while in Kheer Ganga - I managed my own fully loaded pack to Barshani without too much effort! Considering how i felt on arriving, it was a vast improvement. We managed to delay our goodbyes another 3 nights, us staying in Kasol to visit Manikaran and get used to life after Kheer Ganga. Manikaran is an amazing town, and we spent a day wandering around, making a few purchases, and enjoying the sun. We said our farewells to Ade, Roberta, Ed and Shakti, which is always hard after travelling with such a good group of people. But as i have said before, the world is smaller than we imagine and maybe, one day, we will again share a meal and spliff...

From Kasol it was to famed Manali, but our excitement wasn't evident. While it is a very nice place, and beautifully quiet due to the off season, it doesn't have the charm of Parvarti. Much, much larger, it is a city in the mountains rather than a village in the hills. There are plenty of places worth walking to nearby, but with our time frame now falling within a week, it is time time to take a big breath, and get ready to 'cello India'. Our plan was to visit Darahmsala after Manali, but we have run out of time. 2 or 3 days there is simply not worth the travel times involved, which is a huge shame - it was one of the reasons for me coming up this way. But, there is always next time, and i have vowed not to leave it quite so long till my return. We would have had time, but since arriving in Manali, we have spent 4 days trying to sort out our tickets out of here! Luckily, it is now all done; i have a cheap ticket direct to Bangkok, and Didi has managed yet another 2 week jaunt in Israel. 2 weeks on the beaches of Koh Tao for me and a wedding in Israel for Didi, then we wil meet up again on the 17th in Melbourne.

Although Manali was all about organising our exit from India, a highlight was certainly the Festival of Light. Again, i didn't manage to glean the exact meaning of this celebration, but it seemed all about fireworks. Guy Forks and NYE have nothing on this... Imagine everybody in the street and at home (and i mean EVERYBODY) wielding armfuls of fireworks and explosives, and letting them off at random all over the valley. We heard the first explosions in the morning, but i'm not talking the pissy little 'tom thumbs' used for Chinese New Year... I'm talking fist sized things that sound more like demolition explosives than fire crackers. Walking down the street, you never quite know where one has just been lit - it could be mere meters away! We ate dinner in a Old Manali restaurant overlooking part of the valley and the dazzling show which never stopped, surrounded by a cacophony of booms and bangs. After walking home on a street littered with stripped paper, piles of black powder, ash and remnants of failed attempts, i eventually managed to drift off to sleep despite the incessant noise. And even as sit here at 9:30am drinking my second chai there is still the occasional boom reverberating up from New Manali - someone obviously still has a few left...

But now, all i really have left in India is a couple more days relaxing here in Manali, a 17 hr bus to Delhi, 3 nights there doing some shopping, a flight to Mumbai, then CELLO!!!!!!!!!! My time here has vanished all to quickly - in some ways i feel like i've been travelling for ages, yet in others, it seems like i left yesterday. Time is a strange beast when living out of a pack, and the last 4 months have passed in what seems like a heartbeat. But regardless of how long it has actually been compared to how long it has seemed, i know and feel that i have grown. I have talked about India and the lessons it teaches, and my journey this time around was no exception. While i would have trouble telling you what i have learnt or how i have grown, i certainly feel changed. And i leave India again with that same burning desire to return which afflicts so many travellers here. I stand by my prior statement that people either love or hate India; no-one travels here then goes home to say "Yeah, it was OK". And my personal opinion certainly hasn't changed, a long 8 years after my previous visit; India to me is an extremely unique country, brimming with life, colour, beauty and faith; a country with so much religous, cultural and geographical diversity from north to south, east to west; a place where religion and spiritualality are paramount, and where tolerance and acceptance are practised, rather than talked about. Of the 10 or more countries i have travelled or spent time in, none has affected me quite like India. And i know that without a doubt, i will be back.

 

 

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