Tuesday, April 18, 2006

stoner story 4 - Return to Manali

July 2002

Malik and self were supposed to catch the 3am cab from office, head to Baba's penthouse in South Campus, pick him up, and take the same cab to ISBT to catch the first deluxe bus to Manali.
Instead, when we got to Baba's place, he's still sleeping. Half an hour of kicking and cajoling and the Andhraman rises with, "Let's smoke a joint..I still have to pack."
Malik's getting hyper...the heat probably frying his Jat buddhi.
One spliff down and we discover warm left over beer. Can't possibly leave beer like that for five days, so we sit down to finish it. Before we know it, it's 6 in the morning and Baba still hasn't packed.
We leave finally just as the sun comes up and get to ISBT just as the chaiwallahs start their refill round.
The only bus we can see is a Himachal Pradesh State Transport bus. (read: no air-conditioner, cramped wooden seats and smelly armpits in sniffing distance)
We have no choice but to hop on and buckle in.
Thirteen-and-a half hours of fighting for space with someone who smelled like a shepherd and the bus drops us off at Kullu. "Last stop," announces the driver before disappearing into the darkness.
What the fuck!!!
At this point, we're tired, hungover, thirsty and have been put through the spin cycle of turgid rural commotion.
We get off because staying on the bus doesn't make any sense and lug our rucksacks to the highway in the hopes of catching a night bus to Manali. It was close to 9 in the night.

As we smoke a spliff, wondering what to do next, 6 Isras on Bullets roar up with, joy-of-joy, 3 empty pillion seats!!
Baba flags them down, explains our predicament to which they, with uncharacteristic hospitability, say, "Hop on guys!"
In less than a minute, we each grabbed a seat, slung our bags behind us and left Kullu behind.
The initial euphoria of getting a lift soon wore off, when little drops of drizzle began slicing at us. The hippies were swathed in riding gear: helmets, gloves, parkas, jeans and riding boots. We were in Tshirts and Malik had insisted on wearing a lungi. (Because we thought we'd be going straight till Manali and he wanted to be comfortable in the cramped bus)
Riding pillion with no protective gear at the back of a Bullet in the mountains at night with a fuck stoned hippie in control and the last thing you need is rain. But it being July in Himachal, can't expect anything less.
I could feel my testicles slowly soldify with ice as the thumpers roared around the steep, twisty hills in a magnificent formation.
Wish I'd been watching instead.
Got to Manali with snot frozen to my face, icicles of tears around our eyes and a damn near case of hypothermia.
We grabbed the first auto we could and hurriedly pulled out the sweaters and extra jeans to get warm.
But this journey wasn't over.
Just as we crest the hill to Old Manali, I get the sudden rush of the shits. Constant gorging from Delhi with no "exhaust" had made my intestines vulnerable to every single jolt in the road.
Stopping the auto at the bridge, I ran to the nearest bush by the river to dump my load, ignoring shouts from Baba and Malik to find a room first.
But venting that pressure, despite the cold, the wet, the night and the exhaustion was pure ecstacy.
The ecstacy turned to agony a few minutes later when I grabbed a tuft of grass to wipe my ass.

Only it wasn't a tuft of grass...it was a bunch of nettles.

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