With my hotel positioned nearby to the bus stand, I was able to roll out of bed with ease directly depositing myself into the morning chaos of India. I picked up some bananas and a couple of aloo paranthas (spiced potato stuffed flatbread) for breakfast before getting into the bus as I was recommended a prompt thirty minutes but my previous notions followed through as the locals didn’t start filling the bus until scheduled departure time or as it eased out of the bus stand. Originally I had my large bag stored in the aisle way since I couldn’t manage to shove it into the overhead compartment but that soon was moved back to its own seat next to me after the bus attendant gave me the typical Indian head nod that I came to the conclusion in this case meant ‘come on, what are you doing?’ without a word spoken. Unless I am far overthinking it, the Indian nod has it own way of communicating independent of the person themselves. It usually results in numerous misunderstandings which I try to clarify with a confused look and question but back to square one we go with another head nod that this time is more vigorous as if to imply ‘what did I just say?’. If I knew I wouldn’t have asked but that is something necessary to be accepted if you want to outlast the mind-numbing puzzlement you will surely dig yourself into with this befuddling gesture. I don’t even think Indians realize how much they use it. In a word, it’s in their nature, a humorous bobble head nature at that one. So from there we went passing village by village through the Himachal Pradesh state picking and dropping off passengers at will while I passed the time by either napping or glueing my eyes through the protective glass that was the window at the incredibly beautiful women going about their everyday business on the streets in their vibrant technicolor village attire. Not much else occurred beyond this routine while I spared a glance at the gorgeous hilly terrain covered in a green blanket of bushy coniferous trees that went beyond anything a prominent artist’s color palette could conjure. Eventually we made it to Shimla’s new bus station located on the outer reaches of the capital’s center ten plus hours later but still a long stretch of a crawl from where I needed to be and where I could find accommodation after a long day of bumping along on the road. Luckily a local observed my confusion and asked a little bit about myself before helping me get in the right direction by telling me I could take the local bus towards the city and spare myself of an overpriced taxi ride. Heeding his advice I got into what can be considered Shimla city where I walked in the enjoyment of little foreigner flow. After basically traveling through Israel the past week or so, I was finally away from it all albeit amongst throngs of Indian holiday makers. Sure enough India held to its tout tradition with its various characters trying to pull me towards ‘their’ hotel or guesthouse so that they could get a little piece of the action off my room tariff. Even though I had nothing booked, I told them I already had the YMCA up on The Ridge booked and paid for which removed their masks and gave me the correct directions up the lift and to the YMCA. Another man was good-natured as his act was presented to me which I entertained for the time being until I grew tired of the game and simply stuck with the YMCA as I had always planned. On The Ridge, which is one of the two main walking streets of Shimla including The Mall that most visitors do their shopping and strolling on, I got myself a bite to eat composed of a filling thali and then did my own strolling upon this grand view point packed street with all the tiny lights of Shimla brought together gleaming in their scattered array as they bounced with the roll of the hills they were built upon. After a long day with a fix of wifi to tidy things up, I took a splendidly hot shower amidst this chilly climate and curled myself deep under the covers enjoying my last moments in this weather that my body was made for before I would be shoving out in the coming days for temperatures that I should say don’t bode so well for our one and only Tony.
Expecting the Unexpected in India Day 253: Sleepy Ride to Shimla