Saturday, July 17, 2010

come rain come shine

The sun was shining and my illness but a memory when I set off for Sarchu (the gateway to the North) at 7h00 but after only 5km it started raining and I was forced to take shelter. One hour passed and the road merchants were starting to stir (I didn't quite make it out of town). I wanted to avoid any contact on my way out of Manali and was now (cowering under a rain-sheet) being harassed by everyone passing by. It was clear that the rain would persist and I would have to turn back and re-claim my beautiful room before some eager hippie occupied it and turn it into a hot-box. Manali turned out to be a hospital of sorts for me and I felt frustrated that I had to return when I was feeling healthy and restored. My plan was to ride 220km to Sarchu instead of Keylong only 115km away and so gaining a day but the plan changed again and there was no guarantee that the sun would shine tomorrow. This thought plunged me into a gloomy mood that matched the dark skies perfectly. How is it, I thought, that 5 days of glorious sunshine could be forgotten in an instant? Surely, the sun would shine again.

With nothing to do but read and think I considered all that had happened and realized that the reason I was staying longer in a place than I planned was not because I wanted to see more of a place and the people. I was afraid of what lay ahead. I was terrified of that unknown and the road ahead would be the toughest yet. Realizing this was like hesitating before jumping off a great height, it just gets harder once you've hesitated and I resented that I hesitated at all. Up to this point I’d already drove in rain, hail, through thick sand, mud and survived a landslide. A sudden need to jump and not be afraid gripped me as I came to my senses, so to speak. Each little difficulty presented an opportunity to overcome and so silence all those voices telling me I can't do it. Sadly, I was trapped in Manali and all that passion would have to remain bottled for a not-so-rainy day.

Strolling down to the market, oozing determination, I had lunch at 'Amigo's Cafe and German bakery'. Manali caters for a wide range of tourist, can you tell? It wasn’t at all what I expected and inside were 3 Indian guys playing their guitars and singing the most soulful Indian folks music. As I listened to the music (and the rain outside) I remembered that this trip was about more than doing something 'impossible', it was also about having these random and exotic little delights and I was grateful for another perfect moment in India. I stayed for 2 hours and promised to return later that night and play a song on the guitar. Yikes.

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