By Goirick Brahmachari
After a 16-hour bus ride, and an hour of walk, I have finally reached here. I am tired, very tired; however after a long long time I feel I am fine. No mobile network. And that feels great.
It was a bit difficult for me to get a room with an attached bath at a rate below 500. Somehow, after negotiating enough with this young Himachali guy at Yamuna for a minute or two, I managed a good deal. The room I have is on the top floor with a 180-degree view of the wild mountains rising up. Parvati with all her tempers now envelops me.
In my room now, slightly drunk and writing this. Sipping local Himachali booze, remembering Adity and our trips together, and how we remember the first few tired hours of every new place we travel to.
This is the furthest end of the world. Far.
Very far. 3.00 PM
I sit here watching the mountains that rise up like a fever bringing shivers to the winds.
No mobile network at all! I already feel so good. I do however want to let Adity know that I plan to stay here for a few more days at least.
I was a bit disappointed with one of those popular homestays I approached after I reached here, before I approached Yamuna. They made me wait for 40 minutes and even got me to drink and pay for a coffee, as I waited outside, only to decide after 40 minutes that they do not have a room. 40 minutes! Of observation?
But now I realise it was all good. The peaks that moved over my face, and the black coffee, sun. The breeze was cold enough to unpack my weariness.
Took a quick shower and had my lunch. Tipsy, thinking some ganja would make it right. As everyone knows, no one sells ganja in these parts of the hills. Only cakes and cream, the real stuff. Travelling on a low budget does not help much either. Just two drags would do…
Got drunk with 5:30PM 6:00 PM
Had a light dinner. Hotel guy gifted me some stuff, saying, dewali hein. Fried Potatoes and Paneer. And green chili sauce.
High. I have to sleep.
Woke up once in the middle of the night to finish the rest of those potatoes and paneer. However, slept immediately. I slept well last night. After a long time without worries. It was very cold.
This place is amazing! I spent hours on the road, the day before, after a full day at work. After work, I packed and went straight to the bus station. There were no tickets to anywhere. No Volvo – though I did not want to travel in it, no super deluxe. Not even an ordinary bus either. Plus, I am terribly short on money.
Got a ticket only to a place that is not even half way from here. However, was lucky to get the connecting buses rather quick. I got down twice from my buses before reaching my destinations, only to board another bus that goes farther, hoping for the best.
I still feel very energetic. The morning has fallen upon the mountains, onto our roofs. It seeps in through the two glass windows, now golden, in my room.
Yamuna, like Rinki didi’s, is towards the right end of the village. And the café I went to last evening, looking for a drink and Jack Johnson that they were playing, is to my left. The village is laid across my left window. I can spot the café. Seemed like a decent one. Very cheap. Sat outside and chatted with a few chaps there. Nice people, some Telugu boys and Himachali café tenders. I had forgotten to pay them and almost half way, while walking back to my homestay, I realised it. When I went back to give them the money, I had to remind them that I have not paid for the coffee. They seemed uninterested; however, they finally accepted the money.
I walk and walk the day, to the villages I have never seen, through these lonely roads that snake below the empty mountains. Few campers and trekkers I meet. I do not talk but keep walking. I am not fond of organized travelling, adventure sports, temples or ashrams. So, I stay away. I stroll back to my village.
Brush, paste, soap (add paper soaps)
A book, and a copy of my own book for possible sale, multiuse opener, notebook, pen, antiseptic cream, Nise Tablets and Balm for headaches, Deo spray, sanitizer. (Toothpick and scissors – add)
1 jeans, 1 shirt, 1 t shirt, 1 sweater, I jacket, 2 socks (other than the one you travel with), few undies, 1 slipper, 1 sleeping trouser, 1 gamcha (towels take longer to dry), candles, match box.
Mobile, Charger, Sony Mp3 player for road, earphones (may add power bank, camera – optional)
On my way back, I pass by the only bridge that connects the village to rest of the valley again, and move further right towards Yamuna.
I realise this is probably one of the best places I have visited so far in this variety of Himachali hippie, counter-cultural settlements. The harder the access and the colder the season, less and less tourists appear. Lodging rates remain cheap. Eating and drinking alone, with the day light fading, gets tastier.
The entire village is doped. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains. Mountains with few trees and mountains without trees. Brown, black, ash. Partly rocky. And then, you have those lush green mountains on the other side with trees, so close, that you can spend hours counting every bit of the green. Green in every different shades, and rocks that fall from the sky. I realise these mountains fall here, they do not rise up.
Almost all of them look empty with no human presence. Only few unmetalled roads at their bottoms that lead to the neighbouring villages across these hills. Let us sleep early and order the end of the night. Some Bhairavi from Bhimsen should do?
Mornings here are striking. Everyone is sleeping as I drink.
It snowed last night. The panoramic sight of my room, windows through which I see these ice mountains, rocks white has turned into a divine cold ecstasy. The room deserves much more than what I have been paying per day, I realise. The food is great too. Also, I am their only guest.
The fact that I am writing finally after a year’s break almost makes me happy. Though, the plan was not to write for this trip. But this beauty I face, forces me to. It cradles me to use these words I type.
It is also great that I have not received any calls since I have reached here. However, was able to reach Adity once, to share that I will be back in a few days’ time. I love the fact that I was able to connect. The left side of the village, in which you can go further up, the tower / signal, is sometimes accessible if you are lucky.
Today is a relieving morning. The sun has just come up shining. It was under those stone hills that fall like black ink on the wall. Listening to Alexi and all the waywardness he can bring. The voice of the meanderers? Bright sun falling over my body amid the chill at this cemented room that can get colder than the stone.
A few houses nearby are made of stones. Sure, they are much warmer. But, I feel warm, I am warm alone. From the high and the brightness of the sun that falls, all over the colours. It is all clear here. Clear, so clear that you can lick the hues of the sunrays. Pure light. Over us. I must go out now.
I can see a one and half of a mountain with a few curtains down. Rinki di’s red rooftop. The green walls of another lodge opposite me. Below the window I am facing, is a house with a stone roof, at the furthest end of the village. Sigur Ros now shivering down my spines as the smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of that stone house. The last house of this valley hangs on the edges of a hill.
High and drunk
like these rocks.
“I am a rock, I am an island”
The hot water is ready. Let us take a shot at a hot shower. Hope I will be alive. It is extremely cold. The geyser does not work. So, Tinku got some hot water for me from the kitchen.
Water oh water, joe lynn turner –
– stone – cold – blue
Cohen is an Eskimo
Dylan a drunk blade
Cohen is the Lord
Patron of sex,
All that is holy
Lover of the sound, theory
Killer of the death –
Cohen for the gods and dogs
Sand and the ocean
Dylan must fall in love
Must have sex
The god of grass and gasoline
Rhyme and evil
A Left Winger
Cohen is an unfathomable, untouchable page,
Dylan is an unreadable one, page of page, page full of errors fixed with a pencil
Cohen is the all corrected
Dylan is the correction.
Allen is the C of Sunflower Collective.
Forgetting is the first step. Then comes the road and the stones by the river.
The uncounting, the withering, the angerlessness, the hopelessness of mistrust, post hurricane trauma of treason.
Shameful faces through the witches, evil explodes, friends and acquaintances, stones and trees. We who question them become the question. I smoke to breathe out this hate. I inhale. Try hard to comeback, to search for
in, within me.
Norah Jones, after an early breakfast is recommended on a shiny day here. October is a good old friend. The breeze smells familiar, of fresh weed and life. Even the wildest grass smells good. Little, wild, hippie flowers, trees and stones, rocks. The flowing water. The colours of the village blend and merge in my eyes, with the breeze, in all of their green and blue, white and yellow, red, trees and flowers; below me, buildings, huts, homes and restaurants, cafes and shops, as I sit here on the grass. Glittering clouds move above, as if someone has cleaned this place with tears. And then put some balm on our foreheads.
And a sky that forms and deforms like a kaleidoscope.
12:33 PM: I have to go out for lunch. I must. Go out.
Not more than a 100 to 150 houses in this village. Around 500 people live in them. Almost no visitors now. Has an open space like that of old Manali and Vashisht, a typical temple in Himachali style, where kids play cricket, set fire to fire crackers that echo across the void. They collect last night’s leftover crackers and burn them one by one. They wait and get surprised if they burst. Like every bit of noise here, that brings a surprise.
I sit at a tea-Maggi stall and chat with a family. The women graze a yak, while the man serves me black tea. They talk to me about how old this place is, and how hard it gets to live here during the end of the year. How winters have become comparatively easier over the years. How tourists litter and how they too sometimes need them to sustain. Not all are that bad, the older woman tells me.
I have not done anything here. Nor have I thought of anything else, except this place. Since I have been here, I did not think. This silence, this beautiful coldness, this warmth of the within, through these cold cold breeze, will suffice.
Not a single sound. Except the cold breeze, sometimes angry enough to carry all the negativity away. Let’s listen to Angus?
Not going up for the third time, I decided. I have explored much of the village by now, even those popular cafes high up. Nothing much there. I like the eastern part. It is colder and lonely. Rather, let me take a walk nearby through this dark.
Originally from Silchar, Assam, Goirick B’s debut collection of poems, For the Love of Pork (Les Editions du Zaporogue, Denmark) won the Muse India-Satish Verma Young Writer Award for poetry in 2016. He is also the winner of prestigious Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, 2016. His chapbook of travel notes, Joining the Dots, was published by Nivasini Publishers, Hyderabad in 2017. His third book of poems, Wet Radio and other poems, has been published recently. His poems have appeared in Berfrois, Café Dissensus, Raiot and Nether, among others.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Revisiting the Partition of India”, edited by Kamayani Kumar, University of Delhi, India.