Today I woke up in Chandigarh and had a list of things to get done before I could set off for Shimla. I had to pack up, check out of the hotel, find the right road to take and replace a spark plug. The bike had been acting weird and kept stalling whenever I stopped at a robot and I was convinced it was the spark plug that needed replacement. So I replaced it. Yes, I, replaced it. And then the bike wouldn’t start.
Turns out, there was dirt in my carburator (?) and that was making the bike act up. I mentioned about the spark plug but the mechanic said the plug was fine. The old plug was also fine. The process of cleaning out my carburator set me back an hour but I had a bigger problem, my diary was gone. There are a lot of things that I could do without on this trip but my diary was not one of them. In it was every contact I’ve made on this trip. Important phone numbers, e-mail addresses and almost every person I’ve met have written in it. It was precious to me and it was missing. Then I remembered where I saw it last, by the open hand monument. My heart sank. I left it on the lawn underneath the monument and it was probably gone by now. What were the chances that it was still there? I’d already lost a few hours of precious early morning riding time but I had to try. I raced to the monument and spent 30 minutes explaining to the guard what had happened and asked if anybody had picked up a book. He didn’t speak English and thought, when I made the sign for book (2 open hands next to each other) that I wanted written permission to see the open hand monument. Eventually I think he got the point but said that there was no book. Feeling very raw about the loss of my diary I decided to walk over to the monument, just in case. It wasn’t there but I saw something in the grass that I recognized. It was a business card from Tritalia in Cape Town and it had been in my diary. Frantically I looked around and found another piece of paper, a contact for someone I could stay with in Nepal. But where was my diary? And then, about 100 meters from where I’d left it, on the grass, was my diary. It was not in the condition I left it but it was there.
My diary had spent the night underneath the open hand of Chandigarh getting some character chewed into it by a stray dog. It was badly bruised but still in-tact and I floated back to my bike clutching my diary tight to my chest.