INDIA NEVER CEASE TO BE INTERESTING. Yesterday, we received two more friends, Lukas and Philipa from Germany, and the happy bunch decided to go as a group to Dharamsala together. So from a lone traveler, we became a chatty group of four.
“She is crazy!” says Philipa, “I could not agree more, Yifa is one crazy girl!” I said.
That was one straight-forward agreement between me and the German brother and sister while we were at the Golden Temple. Just before taking our bus to Dharamsala, we’ve decided to go see the Golden Temple one more time. Yifa having been to the temple many times, walked real fast and was separated from the three of us. With her brown shawl on her head camouflaging her within the thousands of locals, finding her seem to be impossible.
We waited for her at the entrance, but even 5 minutes after our designated meeting time, she was nowhere to be seen. And with the luggage token in my hand, we had to bring all her luggage with us to the bus stand, hoping that she’ll get there in time. Our bus leaves at 13:50 and at 13:45, a confused and pale-looking Yifa, covered in sweat, appeared on the bus to a cheering applause. Apparently, she was caught in a long queue and missed us by 5 minutes. Her shoes were in her bags and a local Sikh had to give her shoes from the temple (again proving their friendliness) and drove her all the way to the station, thus saving her from inevitable tragedy.
“You are crazy for not coming back for your bags,” said Philipa, “I was so worried that you may not have money with you.” I added. Lucky for her, we are in Punjab, and the Sikhs are always guardian angels.
OUR BUS TOOK EIGHT HOURS INSTEAD OF THE SIX HOURS IT ADVERTISED. We had a very funny driver, who laughs at our confusion over Indian culture, and drives as though he is on a racetrack. During a break in the middle of nowhere, we found our tires punctured, thus giving us more time to hang out with the villagers who seldom see foreigners and can’t stop asking for photo-shoots. Before sunset, the roads were beautiful. After sunset however, the ride started to worry us. The speed is the same as the day’s (fast even for Indian standards), and on narrow winding roads with no street lamps. Fortunately for us, we all arrived in one piece at Dharamsala, where the weather is cool and the streets noticeably cleaner. Even with an eight-hour bus ride, we had so much drama packed into a day, all because this is crazy India, even crazier than crazy Yifa.
A boy making naan at our guesthouse
Fellow travelers German brother and sister, Lukas and Philipa; Israeli Yifa; me, and staff of the guesthouse
A man showing his handmade leather sitar
A boy begging for money on his knees on the train
Yifa and our funny Punjabi bus driver
Villagers asking for a photo