Monday, April 16, 2007

India Journal 2006 #43 April 13-15 Train Ride and Arrival in McLeod, Dharamsala

Well, the train ride was smooth....arrived at the train station and of course was surrounded by porters and for this train I need one to get to the proper platform. One guy came over and said 100 rupees for 1 bag and I simply gave him a look and started walking away. Another guy came over to me and asked what happened and I told him the price was ridiculous and he said regular price is 50 rupees and told the other guy off! Funny thing was, while walking to the train platform, there was an announcement, which was actually reapeated every 10 minutes or so, that porters are to be paid 50 rupees for one bag up to 40 KG and if anyone over charges, you should get their number and report them to the station manager. this is really something new. Standardizing pricing is beneficial to everyone...customers as well as the porters themselves.

Got onto the train, met a couple of girls in the next cabin and we arranged to take a taxi together to save money. Two nice young Jewish girls from Toronto and we talked about places they've been in in Israel before finally retiring to our respective cabins.

Then met the other 3 people in my cabin...a Russian couple and a guy from Israel, Avi. They asked about getting to McLeod and told them they could come with me and I'd help them also get a taxi.

The trip was nice...there was a couple with a l2 year old child and fun talking a little to her and finally drifted off to sleep and slept well until 6:30. We arrived in Pathankot at 8 AM and all six of us went to the taxi stand. When I told the guy we needed 2 taxis...

he said it would be cheaper for all 6 of us to go together. Instead of 1300 for a taxi with three, we could get a jeep for either 1500 or 1700 rupees for all 6 of us. I asked Avi, who knows about cars, which jeep he suggested and he pointed to the 1700 one. It was a Toyota and I have NEVER had such a comfortable ride anywhere in India before.

I arrived at Kailwood only to find that there was no room available for me...I had this feeling for some time that there would be a problem. When I spoke to them last on the phone I even jokingly said, if I arrive and there is no room, I am sleeping in Kokila's room (the owner) when I arrive. Well, sure enough, that's the room I am now sleeping in. Kokila was upset that there was no place for me but not particularly apologetic...says I can stay in her room for 10 days or so until I make other arrangements. Nice room but I am uncomfortable being there...something energetically wrong with the room...can't put my finger on it. Also the bed is a hard it hurts to lay down on it, but asked for a quilt which I put down over the mattress and now it is OK to sleep on, at least temporarily.

at any rate, I saw Nikolai, who said he would help if he could, and then decided to just go out and find a room. Spent 3 hours (!) checking every guesthouse I could find which seemed to be in a location I could comfortably live in, and noen had rooms. Some were willing to save a room for me for a few days from now, but they were all too expensive and not willing to come down in price even for a long term stay as it is high season now.

Went to see my friend Gill, who was very happy to see me and told him my problem. He called a friend who has a hotel here but it was also too expensive for me. And no room available anyway.

I finally got to this place very far out of down down a very steep hill called Hunted Hill, which was really nice. I am now looking for a place with fan as it will be hot here in another month for sure....And this place had everything, but was too expensive. The manager said he would speak to the owner and would call me in the evening...which they did and he agreed to lower the price somewhat for me and I told him I would be in touch in a few days.

Had lunch at the Japanese restaurant and it was as delicious as always. Among the people who actually recognized me and were happy to see me, were a couple of "beggar friends" from past years. I always thought they never really paid attention to people who gave them money, but a couple of them I had given special help to in the past, and as soon as they saw me, big smiles came over their faces. In their broken English, and my very very broken Hindi, they told me how they were doing, one of the stories quite sad as both his baby and father had died this year, but seeing them was good. I know it may sound funny being happy to be remembered by beggars, but it means that they DO see people as individuals and not just hands giving them money. (Or medicine, or schoolbags for their kids etc). I think they particularly appreciated the fact that I am always willing to sit and listen to them for a friend might.

I slept very well that first night. Stomach still a little shakey, but otherwise feeling very energetic. Will force myself to take it slowly at the beginning.

Got some of theings I needed for now (a kind of supermarket has opened up here!!). Many changes...VERY crowded or maybe this is a season I have never been before. It is not like this Oct-Dec. Jogibara road has been repaired and for the first time ever is easy to walk on.

Nice to see old friends, Evelyn, Nikolai, Susie, Abdella coming tomorrow, Shajar is here. Met other regulars who are staying here. Nice people but I think this whole thing of no room being available is a message for me that it is time to move on to a new place and have time with myself. I am looking forward.

Met a lady "by chance" today who is looking for a Reiki I course and we will be in touch in a few days to choose a suitable time for both of us.

Went down to my regular internet place and the guy, who had just gotten marrired as I was leaving last time, recognized me and was happy to see me. He looks "well fed" by his wife. I told him he looks like he has a good wife and he agreed with a big smile! He also has a 1 1/2 year old daughter.


the guys who were little boys last time I was here waiting at Nick's, are now young teens.

Bumped into Avi (from the train) in the street and we had a snack together there. Saw the cakes (!) and it is going to be hard keeping away from them I can assure you, but will do my best.

Got some cheese and a whole wheat roll at Osho to have for breakfast tomorrow with my (very small and boring) fruit salad they make here. Tangerine, banana and apple....where is the pineapple, mango, papaya, pomegranates, chico (like custard apples) and strawberries from Rishikesh????

The weather here is warmer than I expected but still nice, but I will definitely need a room with fan.

Met Lauren (from Rishikesh) also and we had dinner together at Kokonor. Disappointed me...will have to check out other places for pasta in the future. Well, I mentioned one of the guesthouses I had tried but found too expensive, and seems she is staying there and has the number for the owner. I called him this evening, and he is willing to give me a room at reduced price, and I will meet him on Tuesday at 2 pm to close the deal. Hopefully will move in on saturday. The room has screens, balcony facing off the main street and a fan, as well as 24 hour a day hot water, so it looks like it should be OK. And it is in a fairly good location for me. A little out of the center but not too far and there is internet and restaurants nearby, even one in the hotel, so it is OK.

I am now sitting in a new internet place just down Tushita road from Kailwood, which has earphones and mike so if anyone wants to Messenger me, we can actually talk here. Also has USB port so I will be able to upload pictures (if I decide to take any here!).

I will write one more short post following this about certain insights I've had and haven't written about yet, but for now,

Namaste to all