Some thoughts and some feelings, all while returning from a ten day travel to Shimla, Kulu and Manali.
- Like not receiving e-mails and telephone calls leads first to irritation and then to relaxation. And not having access to internet. It makes me wonder whether I should give up all these gadgets.
- Like the entire terrain of Shimla, Kulu and Manali is so beautiful that any angle of camera produces a lovely picture.
- Like if you want to feel the generation gap then you should play Antakshari by making groups of old and young tourists. Both will hear songs they have never heard before!
- Like ‘Candid Camera’s’ desi version ‘Bakra’ is spreading fast everywhere. It is not only played at parties but also by tour operators!
- Like I am enjoying travel more ever since I started reading about the place, its history and geography, and people, their culture before visiting the place. And I wonder what people did when there was no Wikipedia and Search engines.
- Like our tour group consisted of Marathi speaking people from Goa, Sangli, Aurangabad, Mumbai, and Bhopal. Their accent, use of words, construction of sentences were very different and added to fun. It was interesting to see how geography [Bhopal in Hindi speaking state, Goan Marathi influenced by Konkani, Sangli Marathi probably influenced by Kannada, Aurangabad tourists talked a dialect of Marathi I found difficult to follow] had an influence on the language.
- Like you move in Manali under constant fear of traffic jams which are worse than what we see in Mumbai.
- Like lack of public toilet facilities en route Shimla, Kulu and Manali and then to Chandigarh cause terrible embarrassment and disgust to women travellers. [And I am not suggesting here that men were shameless!]. And the Govt of Himachal is singularly irresponsible in ignoring this aspect of tourism.
- Like I will remember the parody of the song ‘Mere desh ki dharti’ from Manoj Kumar’s film Upkar. A magician while performing in front of the travellers sang ‘Mere desh ki dharti’ / Mera pet nahee bharti’ [My homeland does not provide me two square meals]. The stark truth and reality in the parody will remain permanently associated with this song hereafter.
- And finally in spite of lack of basic facilities, lack of 'rope ways' and other tourists attractions where those could have been well placed, the overall experience of visiting Shimla, Kulu and Manali was very good. Whenever I watched very poor children in Dharavi playing without any facilities I used to wonder how they could enjoy their time. I now have one more unanswered question; I wonder how it happened to me too!