|A (short) Pome Dedicated to Asian Roosters |
|One morning in Bangkok, we were up quite early, because of the enthusiasm of at least seven roosters on the other side of the Wat wall. I actually woke up (before dawn, damn them) having written a poem about them in my subconscious, irritated state. I'd like to dedicate this to all the roosters in Asia that have bovvered me in the morning. (Yes, that includes all you little feathered buggers in India.) It goes like this: |
Oh cockerels, how keen are thee
To outcrow those who whisper not
Methinks the contest prize should be
A hatchet sharp and boiling pot.
The things you think of in your sleep huh?
|BabeInTheWoods Does Thailand |
|Due to the illegality of posting here because it's not about India, here's a link to my other blog if anyone's interested. |
IndiaMike, I miss you.
|Ode to India Railways (refer to entry "What Bluddy Platform!", etc) |
|I thought I was intrepid |
Flying 'cross the world
Till I met with Indian trains
That thrashed my bod and bashed my brains
And rendered me to curled, pathetic
Ne'er again will I set forth
"Intrepid be my name"
I'll worry 'bout which platform
And how to step 'round rat swarms
And when to wake
And how to make out
Hindi station names
I was the proud adventurer
(a conqueror of travel all)
But then I had to learn to squat
With pants half mast
Whilst being rocked
Above a stainless steel hole
Smeared with (stuff I won't say here)
Then try to wash my derriere
Long live the porcelein bowl
I'm now a humbled westerner
Who cringes at the blasting horn
And knows now why it sounds forlorn
(Tis sympathy the train does give
For those about to newly live
Intrepid journeys on the lines)
God help them, they're about to find out...
Dude! Don't board that bluddy train -
When you arrive, you'll be insane!
|Tibetan Tea, Prayer Flags, Feelingless Limbs and Buses on India Time |
|Paul and I ran around like blue-bottomed flies trying to find some vertical prayer flags in Rewalsar, which appear to be as scarce as hens teeth no matter where you are. So while I was in one shop organizing some to get made, he was down the road doing exactly the same thing! So we ended up with two sets. That's okay though - we got to watch the guy actually printing the design onto Paul's flags - a huge wooden printing block with a picture of Padmasambava and Tibetan writing on it. Interesting stuff. |
At the Tibetan cafe below our room, the lovely momo expert woman there decided that we should try genuine Tibetan tea before we left town. I gotta be honest with you - to me it tasted like liquid cornflour. No offense intended, but it just didn't grab me at all. However, it was really lovely of her to do that for us and we
weren't ignorant of the compliment she was paying us.
My new sunglasses I bought at Delhi 2 weeks ago - for the grand sum of 200 rupees - broke in half while we were sitting at a dhaba waiting for our bus to Mandi. So I went round the corner and bought some more for 60 rupees. I bet my bottom dollar these ones last for ages longer, Murphy's law being what it is.
We got to Mandi 2 hours early for our bus to Delhi, which was leaving at 7.30 pm. So we sat in a nearby dhaba, drank chai, turned down a whiskey from the owner, ignored the dirt all over the walls and floor and watched a really corny Indian television drama about Shiva and Parvati.
Naturally the bus was running on India time and therefore was late. It was actually more crowded than airplane seats - who would've thought that was possible? - and it ran out of fuel somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, one of the crazy things about India is that there are dhaba's everywhere, and sure enough there was one a few feet down the road. So we sat there drinking chai while the poor guys in charge of the bus sucked on bucketfulls of diesel for a while.
Finally we got going again and made it to Delhi on a wing and a prayer, I think. It was a really uncomfortable ride, as our luggage wouldn't fit in the back of the bus because that was full, so we had to sit ou backpacks in the aisle and I had to sit another heavy bag on my lap. For a good part of the journey I couldn't feel my legs and every time they stopped for a meal or whatever, it took ages to get out of my seat, as the guy in front had his seat tipped right back, our luggage had to be put on Paul's seat so everybody else could get past, and I was literally trapped there for 5 minutes or so each time. When they're only stopping the bus for 15 or 20 minutes, every second counts.
Once at Delhi, we shared a mini-van with some Israelis. That would've been fine if they hadn't had huge amounts of luggage each. Two lots of enormous backpacks were on top of my foot for nearly an hour and by the time we got to Paharganj I think my body was convinced that I no longer owned a pair of feet nor a set of lower legs.
Getting to our room was bliss.Jeepers it's hot in Delhi! We staggered up 3 flights of stairs with our luggage, then threw everything down, dived under the cold shower and lay on the bed with the fan on typhoon speed. Some things in life are so worth striving for. That was one of 'em!
Up to the rooftop for breakfast, and lo and behold, there were a couple of kiwi friends of hours who themselves had just flown into Delhi. We lolled around with as much decadence as we could rustle up between us and talked for 2 or 3 hours.
Later on we rushed around trying to complete last minute chores and doing the usual cold shower thing every time we went back to our room.
Okay, gotta go do some more chores. Bye.
|Kissy Fishes and the Nemesis of the Naked Chef |
|Today is our second to last day in Rewalsar and it's going to be a wrench to leave here. It's absolute heaven (even aside from the daily access to momo). |
Last night we sat up in the secret place on the roof again, played Pink Floyd by candlelight, watched lightening AND looked at stars - pretty awesome combination - and had a gin or two. Little fireflies flitted about and so did the bats who were chasing them. We even had a dog up there with us. The canines round here seem to be part mountain goat. We actually ended up talking until dawn - due to the fact, I guess, that we have such a short bit of time left and wanted to savour every moment. Of course we weren't aware that it was nearly dawn until we heard the puja and wondered why they were so early. Whoops - outside (we were back in our room by then) the light was dawning. They weren't early, we were late! But somehow that doesn't matter when you can sleep in till midday then go and order your breakfast. I could really get used to this life.
I sat in one of the cafes this avo and the woman who cooks there showed me how she makes momo. Another guy was helping her and he said he'd been trying for 2 years now and he still couldn't make them as pretty as she could. She makes them look like seashells then arranges them in a spiral. Move over the Naked Chef!
We walked around the lake again today and watched the fish milling around in the shallows. They make kissing sounds at you from the water and open their mouths really wide. Not the most attractive sight in the world, but then of course I'm not a fish. An Indian family asked me to pose with them for a family photo. This isn't the first time this has happened. There are photos of me all over India by now I think. Bit of a laugh really.
Not a lot else has been accomplished today, as of course we had rather a late start. The 8 o'clock gong has just rung so I might go and grab some momo while there's still some left in town. If you're not fast you miss out around here.
Ciao for now.
|Uncle Chips and Penguin Spit |
|Before dawn I was woken by the sound of what seemed like the Tibetan version of |
the bagpipes coming from the temple. Of course, that started off the dog packs
who accompanied this strident sound with what they thought was rather a nice
rendition of the Barking Symphony Number 3 in C Minor. Even that may have been
almost tolerable had it not been for the monkey packs singing their Screech
Symphony Number 8 in D Sharp. As any musician will tell you, these particular
notes go not together. Finally, thank goodness, the Tibetan bagpipes stopped
and I sighed with relief. Alas, too soon. Horns started up, replacing
bagpipes, with an accompaniment of drums keeping beat as loudly as
Okay, fine, at least the horns weren't being played at as high a pitch as
the bagpipe thingys. But I didn't reckon with the pending cymbols about to be played at a definate
clash of tempo with the drums. Conches then competed this cocophony of sound.
I gave up any idea of continuing my sleep
and looked out the window at the poor monkeys racing up and down the temple
exterior- I swear they had paws over their ears. One of them was particularly
upset at the fact someone had lit a good sized fire at the minor temple next
door - which apparently exists to keep any wrathful deities at bay. Well, if
that didn't work, the noise sure would have. As a lovely finale, a lone
monk went over to the giant bell in the courtyard and got that going. The size
of the noise is in direct proportion to the size of the bell, which is at
the very least 8 foot
Okay, I'm not really a morning person, but in my humble opinion, mornings
should start IN the morning. Not quite a while before dawn. But at least the
singing of a bunch of enthusiastic Tibetans from Ladakh or somewhere waited
until just after light before they started. So, all this combined with my
granite mattresss meant that I was off to a rather late start today and I
confess to not being quite as cheerful as I may otherwise have been. Serves me
right for wanting to witness Tibetan culture and sleep right next to a temple.
Not one of my brighter ideas, in retrospect.
Anyway, yesterday afternoon I amused myself once more watching the world from the monkey hiding place.
There was a group of monks feeding the fish round the lake a little, and once again the monkeys amused themselves
jumping out of the trees into the water. Then they'd rush over to the monks and
chase them around a bit, until some guy
came to the rescue with a large
stick. I'm hoping to catch the monkeys at it again today with my camera. They have to jump
quite a way out of the trees to make it over a steel barrier in the water. Awesome.
A few more observations:
There's a serious epidemic in India, once which I noticed last year also. The Case of the Squeaky Shoes.
Little children wearing shoes that squeak with every step they take. Now I realise that this is probably
extremely practical at a busy railway station, where you don't want to lose your kid in the crowd, but
on an average daily basis, I don't know how the parents can stand it. I know I grit my teeth every time
I hear it. Whoever invented those things ought to be shot. (Did I mention I was a little grumpy today?)
Monkeys do a strange thing (well, several actually, but this is just one of them). They like to sit on
very high ledges or on the roofs of buildings with their backs to
the edge. I can see this as a
bit of a safety thing (no one can creep up on them) but I'd hate to see them get it wrong. Mind you, I haven't seen any monkeys
splatted on the ground so far. I know I seem to rave on about monkeys a lot, but there's a severe lack
of lizards up here and I have to watch something.
They have cute ideas for condiment containers at the cafes here. They put soy sauce, vinegar, garlic water, etc, into
old whiskey and gin hip flasks or vodka bottles. Or plastic cats that spill out salt, or - a favourite of Ernie's - plastic
penguins with tomato sauce in. Imagine sitting to enjoy your meal, and then "Penguin spit anyone?" Talk about cordon bleau.
It's fun to sit at the cafe upstairs and watch the cows trying to steal food. One miscreant walked away with a cardboard box in
it's mouth yesterday and almost got away with it.
I had a dog have a go at me one of the first
days I was here. Thank
goodness it had been tied up.
It was the only dog that had done so here. Then when I went up for
breakfast (well, brunch, in all honesty), there it was, tied up and sitting next to it's owner, who is a Westerner who's been in India for a long time and kind of
lost the plot. You see at least one of these people in every town in India I think. I instantly recognised the dog and the look in its eye.
I was quite glad to realise that this wasn't one of the local dogs, with which I generally get on fine. This one is an imposter. Huh! One day it will meet it's match.
Maybe in one of the monkeys if it's really unlucky.
Other random observations;
The local stores here are often called "Daily Needs Stores'. Oh, and just because they advertise that they have something, i.e. a computer with internet, doesn't mean it's actually true. Sometimes you walk in and ask
for what they're advertising and they look at you as if you're mad.
Up here in the mountain villages, flat roads are a little less than common. There are often piles of bricks or large stones around to use as handbrakes. So one person will park the vehicle and anothe couple will race over and put these 'handbrakes
place. Obviously, they've learnt to pretty quick at it.
On t.v. there are a lot of ads with 'skin-lightening' or 'skin whitening' cream. I shudder to think what's in the darned things. There seems to be quite an attitude here that lighter skin is better. I dunno. I think many of the people in this country are absolutely gorgeous, each to his own I guess.
Snacks (packets of chips, nuts, buja, etc) are manufactured so that they hang in rows outside the shops. Then you just have to tear a packet off. Very practical.
We were wondering when looking at the menu at our favourite cafe what 'Uncle Chips' are. They
call french fries 'finger chips' but we couldn't figure out the
'Uncle Chips'. Turns out it's just a packet of chips that they race across to the daily needs shop to get for you.
Okay, almost due for power cut again. Sorry about any large gaps or whatever in my typing. Each of these 'cyber cafe' computers has its own idiosyncracies and this one will just type in one long
Footnote: I was one minute too late in closing this. The power cut did happen. I must listen to my intuition more and never mind the grammar check.
|More Monasteries, Spoilt Fish and the Near Death of Tinkerbell |
|Yesterday we wandered into the monastery down the road. We were able to go inside for their puja (kind of like a prayer service, I guess). The monks sat cross-legged in a row talking really quickly for ages (reading from books) while one of them beat on a drum at the same time. Pretty awesome multi-tasking! After a while, two of the monks blew on long horns, which fold into themselves telescopically. At the end of the puja, the same two blew on conch shells. Tibetan books are long and narrow and I don't think the pages are stuck together like our ones. When they were finished with them, they wrapped them up in saffron coloured material. The temple was full of the most exquisite decorations I have ever seen in my life. Pictures of animals and various beings are painted on the walls and the ceilings. The fan even hung under a mandala! Now I've washed a few ceilings in my life and I know how uncomfortable it is just to do that. Actually painting the complex pictures they put up there just beggars belief! The doors have huge round gold handles on them with long tassles hanging off and even the foyer outside is painted with mythical beings, etc. Now I've never seen a stunned mullet in my life before but I betcha I was giving a pretty good impression of one! |
Outside, the young monks were playing football with their shoes. As you do. I gave the smallest one, who was hanging out on the sidelines, a spinning top to play with and off he went as happy as a rat in a cheese factory.
Later on we walked to the monastery UP the road. This is where the birthday celebration had happened earlier in the day. We had gone there earlier to look at things, but as soon as we got there the heavens opened up and we had to go hide under the eaves of a shop for a while. (Thanks a bunch, Ernie and Leisa. Shoulda left that stick behind...) The second time there, we were escorted by the dogs we met on our midnight rambling the other night. They stuck with us until we left the temple again and wandered up the road with us. Two of them actually hopped up on a wall we were looking over to see the lake and wandered back and forward on it. I'm not sure if they actually realise they're dogs! Perhaps they've been living around the monkeys too long.
Anyway, this temple was nowhere near as ornate as the other, but it did have some pretty impressive statues inside. They had some pretty cool chalk drawings outside on the courtyard too.
At dusk, I went to the hiding place I share with the monkeys and watched the general goings on around the lake. Dad, I'm sorry to do this to you, but I saw really big fish schmoozing around, quite clearly, just wandering back and forth. I could've walked into the lake, reached out and just grabbed them. I thought about you and Kevin - you both would have been drooling at the mouth and grasping for your fishing rods. Trouble is though, the locals feed these fish and are rather fond of them. If you did have a crack at some angling here, it's likely you'd be the ones roasting over a slow fire.
Dinner time, we went to a trendy cafe (all the Tibetan ones were closed due to the important person's birthday) and sat there for ages, listening to music and meeting people from all over the world. I saw a firefly too. Paul offered to squash it, but I threatened to tell his daughter that he'd killed Tinkerbell, so that put paid to that. Men!!
Later on in the night, we crept along the accommodation building's roof to somebody else's secret spot and had a drink or two, listened to some quiet music (thanks I-Pod creators) and talked for a while. That was really nice - candlelight, drinks in plastic cups (nothing but the classiest of ways for us) and a lake view.
Today we booked tickets out of here, so we are only able to enjoy this place for about two more days. Damn. I could really easily live here.
Okay power cut due. See ya.
|In Which The Magic Stick Is Sadly Missed and the Rewalsar Diving Monkeys |
|Saturday 19 July |
We walked around the lake with Ernie and Leisa and had breakfast at a different monastery. There were a couple of wallahs across the road selling little round things that they poked holes in, put a few chickpeas into, poured some kind of spicy liquid in and this you toss down in one mouthful. I have no idea what these things are called but they're quite an interesting taste.
Sadly, Ernie and Leisa left today, so we went to see them off on the bus. They're really brave, in my opinion. This was their first time in India and they were off to find their way back to Paharganj in Delhi and then to the airport by themselves. Well done guys.
We later walked around a little and I found a tailor shop where I dropped off my trousers to get mended. Thank goodness their English was non-existant, so I didn't have to explain how the rip got there in the first place. I wandered over to "Goldie's Cloth Shop" while I waited to see if he had any dupatta (large scarves). I had seen a photo of this shop on Flikr on the net, so I was curious to have a look at it. It turns out that Goldie is a really nice young man and he and I and Paul had chai together and he gave us his card and told us if we had any problem to give him a call. There really are some nice locals in these little villages.
Ernie and Leisa - since you took your magic stick away, we have had monsoon rain like you wouldn't believe. (We've had a running joke while we've been in India with them. We advised them to buy an umbrella, but every time they brought it out with them, the rain stayed away. Thus named "The Magic Stick" and also known as "The Monkey Basher".) Come back you guys! We're getting drenched here!
There had been an influx of women from the Women's Self-Help Institute or something like this, from Ladakh (also very high in the hills). In the evening, they danced in our monastery courtyard, singing and giggling and having a wonderful time. That was great to watch - beautiful sounds and interesting cultural dancing.
It's Thursday now and the last few days have been reasonably quiet. We've basically been lazing around eating, sleeping, monkey watching, indulging in the odd gin or two and just keeping away from anything that could be described strenuous at all. Yesterday I just wasn't well, so I saw most of the day through closed eyelids. Later we amused ourselves watching Hindi ads on the t.v. They're absolutely brilliant and a lot of them are so corny they kept us laughing for ages.
A few observations -
Don't know if I've mentioned this already, but I was having a shower when I realised that the plug for the 'geyser' is just below and slightly to the left of the shower head. Permanent hairstyle change for no extra charge?
There's a lama here who wanders around with a huge prayer wheel in his hands and a cowboy hat on. Quite a classic combination.
Most of the Tibetan people here are very smiley. It's very easy to have a good laugh with them, even if we don't have each other's language.
Yesterday I was looking down at the courtyard watching a monk riding around on a child's scooter. He was having a great old time. He looked up and saw us watching and had a huge grin on his face. It's great to see adults remembering how to play.
This morning I was sitting in a nice place looking at the lake. This appears to be a secret monkey hiding place. We sort of looked at each other and decided that if we ignored each other we'd get on just fine. Further around the lake, some monkeys were leaping from high up in the trees into the lake. Having discussed this with Paul, it's apparently pretty unusual behaviour.
Last night we walked into a different eatery across the road from our usual one. It's decor was mustard-painted wall till half way up which was then complimented by screaming pink painted wall. I almost rued the fact I'd left my sunglasses back in our room. The woman from the one across the road came in and we thought we were well and truly sprung for abdicating. She came over and had a chat, borrowed some noodles from the cook then wandered back across the road. Her husband sat at the next table chatting with the owner. We've noticed that they all cross back and forward getting change from one another, borrowing ingredients and generally acting more like friends than competition. Considering they all have exactly the same menus as each other, this seems rather a wonderful and friendly approach to things. I showed the boy working there one of our pop-balls (half a rubber ball that you turn inside out and put on the table - after a while it pops way up into the air). He got the giggles and had a great time with it. As did the owner and the guy from across the road. I think this is one of the best toys ever invented.
Most the eating places here have giant photos on the wall of Lhasa. It's a much bigger place now that the Chinese have taken over.
Last night, in the temple up the road, there were horns blowing for hours on end. I don't know if they swap players every now and then or what, but I know that when my son played didgeredoo his mouth went numb after half an hour or so.
There's a dog here that sort of bounces when it walks. It's obviously terribly unwell and I feel so sad watching it and wish someone could put it out of it's misery. But, as Paul pointed out, this is a Buddhist place and that's just not going to happen. The dog will just live out it's life and go when its time is come.
I went up onto the roof earlier and got rather a nice photo of some lamas sitting around reading newspapers while one was talking on a cellphone.
Today is an important Lama's birthday, so all the Tibetan shops are closed and the temple up the road has big marquee up for celebrations. It could be an interesting day. Over breakfast we had a perfect view of a pack of monkeys fighting and running around all over the temple gate. One in particular was having a real bad-fur day. It thumped onto the roof just below us then looked around and spat at us. Geez, sorry for existing dude... It chased several other monkeys all over the place and some of them looked really scared. I can still hear them screeching at each other now from this cyber cafe.
Okay, I'll check in again later. We're almost due for one of the daily powercuts.
|Caves, Hilltop Con-Men and Monastery Escapism |
|Friday 18 July |
This morning, due to the Tibetan Monastery alarm system, I was up pretty early. There had been an influx of monks, lamas, etc, from Leh (way up in the mountains) and lots of them were little boys. I amused myself for ages watching them interacting with the monkeys. These monkeys, otherwise known to us as "The Thugs" can get pretty close sometimes, and some of the older lamas' were actually throwing food to them. So there were a few close encounters. One little guy in a yellow t-shirt and marone robes would bravely tell a monkey off while doing a karate stance at it. Very brave in my eyes, as the monkeys were almost bigger than him and have pretty big fangs. This little guy, however, had a few smarts about him - as soon as he had told the monkeys what for he would run like hell. Funniest thing I've seen in ages.
We jumped on the local bus here that takes you up to the caves of Guru Rimpoche. From what I understand, this is where he lived and meditated before taking Buddhism to Tibet. This time it was us Westerners that had to stand in the bus aisle, hanging on to whatever we could. Usually we manage to get a seat but heaps of locals beat us to it this time. At least we didn't have to go up on the roof though. Although I'm getting used to this mountain bus business, I'm not sure I could quite bring myself to do that on winding skinny one-lane roads with large drops over the sides. I'm just getting too old to be a stunt woman.
The caves are right at the top of the hill above this village. The hill has prayer flags absolutely everywhere - poles of them, strings of them, etc. The view down to the village is fantastic. There was a bit of confusion with finding the caves - or more, finding the caves together. Paul and Ernie went on ahead because they, disgustingly in my opinion, can zoom up hills without huffing and puffing and half dying. Leisa and I ascended in a more civilized fashion and when we got to a building near the top, we couldn't see the guys. So we went further up and found a sign saying "Welcome to Padmasambava's Secret Cave". We poked our heads in, but there were a few stairs spiralling downwards and then a dead end. So we climbed up some more steps and got separated. I took flag photos then went back down. It turned out that we hadn't quite looked round the corner enough when we got to the building and that was where the cave entrance was. So I ended up going in by myself while the others waited. It was pretty awesome. The beginning of it was lined in marble, with a glass display cabinet with various sentient-type beings in it. Then some narrow steps, dripping with water, led up to another, more natural bit of cave. I got up the steps and was looking into another cabinet when the lights went out. Did you know that caves are the epitome of darkness when the glowworms are off duty? Thankfully, having been a Girl Guide for a few weeks once, I had a torch in my bag. A little further in again was a really big statue of Padmasambava himself. How long it took whoever it was to build that thing in there I don't know but it was a pretty impressive feat. I just had to aim my camera in the general direction of the statue and take a few shots with the flash on. The shots I did get made him look a little creepy - nicely atmospheric, I thought.
Back down the hill at the dhaba, we had chai and discussed the bus. We had been told in the village that the bus goes up at 2 p.m. and another goes down at 5 p.m. "Not so" said the dhaba men. "Bus not coming until 7 a.m. in morning." So we had to fork out for a taxi back to town. This was okay actually, because the driver played some lively Indian music and we kept making him stop for photo sessions. And wouldn't you know it - on one of these stops, the 5 P.M. BUS WENT BY!!! We'd been had by the scheming sods up the hill. Never mind, we had a great trip down and didn't have to play squish or be bashed in the head by umbrellas.
Back in the village, we had a few drinks together then dinner at a dhaba. Yum - I love Tibetan food. Afterwards, Ernie and Leisa went to bed, but Paul and I were still feeling lively (it was full moon, after all) so we escaped over the monastery gate like a couple of miscreants and went for a walk around the village. We were greeted very loudly by a large pack of village dogs, but once we stopped and let them sniff us and get used to our voices, we made a fabulous escort for our perambulating. We felt really really safe surrounded by our new friends. We bumped into the village policeman who obviously thought we were mad. Two Westerners meandering down the street in the middle of the night surrounded by most the village dogs. He didn't seem to grasp the concept of a pleasant evening stroll complete with numerous canines, but he let us go on our way - no doubt rolling his eyes behind us. I was just glad I had a long top on so he couldn't see the rip in my trousers where a sharp part of the monastery gate got me.
So, a pleasant time was had by all and we made a whole bunch of new friends in a very short time. Getting back over the gate, I was more careful and not one single spike got me this time. I felt rather triumphantabout that - not bad for a woman of my age, aye what?
|Umbrella Bashings and Momo Heaven |
|Thursday 17 July |
Today Paul, Leisa and I went to Mandi to book tickets back down to Delhi for Leisa and Ernie. We went on the local bus, which is always a delight if squishing up with many people and hanging on for dear life is your thing. Mandi isn't the most attractive of towns.Compared to Rewalsar it was like dropping in on New York. We didn't spend a lot of time there and subjected ourselves yet again to the usual bus stand confusion (i.e. "this bus going to Rewalsar?" "Yes, no, yes, no, maybe, in 10 minutes, in half an hour, in 2 hours", etc...) How we actually get anywhere that we actually want to go in this country is a small miracle. I must remember to thank the patron saint of westerners in Asia for this. On the way back (yes, we actually found the correct bus in the end), when the bus had almost emptied out, some drunk guy went past and bashed me in the head several times with his umbrella, which was tied to his wrist and swinging about dangerously. Oh thank you sir, just when I was slacking off and feeling slightly comfortable, you reminded me that life is not meant to be so at all times. What was I thinking? He staggered up the front and sat next to an Indian woman. The bus driver then turned around and absolutely tore strips off this guy. I didn't understand the words, but the meaning was dedefinitelyGet Away From The Women You Drunken Fool". Bless his chivalrous heart. The drunk guy went back down the bus, giving me a few more umbrella bashings for good luck and if I hadn't been sitting down I would have been knocked over by the gin on his breathe. Naturally, Murphy's law applied and this lovely chap got off before we did, which meant I received my third bashing and I now have a slight bruise on the side of my head as a reminder of our charming introduction to each other.
Later, back in lovely Rewalsar, we dined in a cafe on the street below our room. Now here in this town, I am in Momo Heaven. For those of you who haven't experienced the delight of eating momo, they are Tibetan dumplings, filled with vege or cheese or mutton (goat) or whatever. You can have them steamed or fried and they are the most wonderful thing I have ever had the privelege to eat. A tibetan guy wandered in with a large lump under his shirt and we looked at him accusingly and laughed when he saw that we had sprung him bringing beer into the cafe. It's not a problem actually, but it was funny to spring him not being very successful at secrecy. This guy came through from Tibet in about 1985 and he doesn't speak English so well, but gestured that he would go and get one for us also. English he might not have, and Tibetan we do not have, but we all had a really good laugh together.
They have what they call "English Wine Shops" here. They don't sell wine. At all. They sell whiskey (this is what the Indians call wine), rum, etc and sometimes also the local brew - some of which you could run an airplane engine on. Ironically, on one of our ramblings around the lake, we found an English Wine Shop that actually sold wine and nothing else! This we have never seen before. I took a photo of it, I was so amazed.
Anyhow, at the end of the night (we have to be in the monastry gate before it closes at 10 p.m.) we tried to go to sleep to incredibly loud live Hindi music wafting across the lake. Thank goodness it only lasted until 2 a.m. And to let you know it's the next day now, the monastry very kindly starts bashing gongs, ringing bells and blowing horns for Puja (morning service sort of thingy) at 7a.m. They are so considerate around here with their musical entertainment. This, combined with the hardest rock slab masquerading as a mattress I've ever had the pleasure to torture myself on meant I had a least 3 to 4 hours of sleep. Have I mentioned the splendid variety of comfort levels available here?