India 2008 # 14: Tibetan Tea, Prayer Flags, Feelingless Limbs and Buses on India Time

Tibetan momos. Yum!

Tibetan momos. Yum!

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. 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. Chores before leaving India generally include:

  • last-minute shopping,
  • packing, unpacking, repacking,
  • trying to find a set of scales to borrow to see just how badly overweight our luggage is,
  • hiring ‘boys’ to carry our luggage to where ever it’s supposed to be,
  • giving our favourite waiters and roomboys their last tips, presents and good wishes,
  • trying to order our food so it is ready to eat before we go (but not so early we end up starving at the airport),
  • using the shower one last time,
  • drinking the last of our duty-free liquor to make room for more to take home,
  • double-checking the reception guys really have called the taxi to arrive at the right time,
  • saying our last goodbyes to whatever travel friends we have met,
  • looking at the view from the rooftop and sighing about missing it already,
  • and stuff like that.
Prayer flag maker, madly creating flags in a hurry for us to take home.

Prayer flag maker, madly creating flags in a hurry for us to take home.

Our lovely Tibetan momo-making friends.

Our lovely Tibetan momo-making friends.

Momo pastry being prepared.

Momo pastry being prepared.

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